Benefits of a plant-based diet for pregnancy
Photo credit: Danny Kavanagh @lifethroughalens83
Lifestyle factors such as weight, smoking, diet and alcohol consumption, can impact how fertile we are. Our GP & certified lifestyle physician Dr Mishkat Shehata (pictured above) works with you and Rachel Huban, our plant-based nutritionist to curate a healthy diet plan for optimum fertility.
A poor diet can cause a hormonal imbalance, which in turn, can result in issues with ovulation. Excess insulin in the body can interfere with ovulation by stopping eggs maturing and increasing formation of ovarian cysts. A woman will often have high levels of insulin if she consumes a diet high in processed carbohydrates with lots of starchy foods such as white bread. Such high levels of processed carbohydrates force the pancreas to release more insulin to help the body metabolise it. Consequently, consuming certain foods and cutting out others can actually improve our fertility.
The following micronutrients are believed to have positive effects on the fertility, for women trying to conceive naturally:
● Vitamin B12
● Omega-3 fatty acids
Deficiencies in vitamin D, selenium, iron and iodine are also linked to lower rates of ovulation. A wholesome plant-based diet that includes spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes and beetroot will improve your intake of iron and other essential nutrients.
To conceive, men need to be producing healthy numbers of sperm – a process also influenced by hormones. A healthy diet and weight will aid sperm quality and numbers. Male fertility may also be aided by antioxidants. On the flip side, a diet rich in trans fats, red and processed meats, potatoes, sweets and sweetened beverages are found to have negative effects.
During pregnancy, plant-based diets may protect mothers and babies from several pregnancy-related complications such as gestational diabetes. Such diets are rich in fibre, low in saturated fat and processed sugar, which can limit excess weight gain and high sugar levels in the blood. A vegetable and fibre rich may protect against preeclampsia — a complication caused by a rise in blood pressure. Vegan diets may help prevent DNA damage and reduce the baby’s risk of certain developmental issues e.g. neural tube defects.
Women interested in following a plant-based diet during pregnancy should consider seeking guidance from Rachel Huban, a plant-based nutritionist, specialised in fertility and pregnancy. Her aim is to support couples in optimising their fertility through a whole-food, plant-based approach before, during and after pregnancy. She makes it clear for you to know which foods to focus on and offers you a large variety of meal ideas and recipes. Rachel is also a mindset coach #winning who helps you feel more confident and empowered on this life-changing journey. The plant-based approach is an incredible way of replenishing your body with the essential nutrients needed for optimum hormonal and microbiome balance. So why not book an appointment now?