by Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapist)
There is a strong connection, supported by a variety of research, that what you eat (or don’t eat) can affect your mood and mental health in a variety of ways. Improving your nutrition can help you think more quickly and clearly, as well as enhance your mood and energy levels. Fertility issues, fertility treatment, the two-week wait – the entire process can be highly stressful and cause much anxiety. It is therefore a good idea to plan your nutrition and meals weeks ahead of hoping to conceive – 3 to 6 months ideally, to put yourself (mind and body) in the best possible place for the upcoming weeks and your fertility treatment program.
There are a variety of different key nutrients foods involved in keeping your mind healthy and these include:
Complex carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are an important macronutrient and should provide us with around 50% of our daily energy requirements. They are provided to us by all plant foods including fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. When it comes to carbohydrates – the key is to think ‘slow and low’. Carbohydrates are ranked using the glycemic index (0-100) based on how fast foods raise blood sugar levels. Slow carbohydrate foods (such as oats, brown rice, boiled sweet potato, beans, lentils) rank lower on the GI index than fast carbohydrates (sweets, cakes, processed food) which cause the blood sugar levels to rise and fall. So, by eating more lower GL foods, digestion slows down and energy release from foods and drinks is more controlled. Low GL carbohydrates help to balance sugar levels as they regulate the sugar release into the blood. If your blood sugar drops you might feel tired, irritable and depressed. Complex carbohydrates also help to enhance the proper absorption of tryptophan which is a natural precursor of Serotonin (the ‘feel-good’ chemical in the brain).
Folate – This helps to reduce the high levels of homocysteine associated with low mood. Homocysteine is a common amino acid in your blood and a high level of homocysteine is a risk factor for heart disease. It’s associated with low levels of vitamins B6, B12, and folate. Some examples of foods that provide us with folate include avocados, spinach and turkey.
Magnesium – An important nutrient in healthy brain functioning, as Serotonin depends on magnesium for its production and function. Foods that contain good amounts of magnesium are leafy greens, dark chocolate and sunflower seeds.
Niacin (and B vitamin complex) – This is involved in the process of producing Serotonin from tryptophan. A deficiency in the B vitamins can lead to low mood. B vitamins are water soluble and so need to be replaced regularly as they leave the body in the urine. Good sources of B vitamins include chicken, green vegetables and venison.
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids – The brain needs fatty acids (such as omega-3 and -6) to keep healthy, boost mood, reduce inflammation and much more. So rather than avoiding all fats, it’s important to eat the right ones and in the right balance. Include 2-3 portions of oily fish per week into your diet such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and some nuts and seeds.
Need some help to get an individual nutrition plan in place prior to fertility treatment? Why not email Sue for a chat on firstname.lastname@example.org
For an added boost head over to our Fertility shop for a range of Magnesium products, Female supplements and Male supplements plus a full range of pill free vitamin oral sprays and immune system support from a range of Matcha products.
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