Food for Fertility and Pregnancy

Infertility is not a life-threatening condition, but has a huge psychological impact on couples desperately trying to build their families.Dr. Nita Sharma Das explains what to eat to be fertile and once a woman becomes pregnant.

In Ayurveda, infertility is referred to as Vandhya, which indicates complete sterility and this condition is incurable. Artavanasha (anovulation) is one of the primary reasons for infertility. However, infertility is curable in cases referred to as Apraja or primary infertility. In Supraja, infertility develops during the reproductive age but after conceiving once or more.

Diet along with other lifestyle factors such as physical exercise, stress and emotional status plays an important role in the menstrual cycle in women. Ojas (vitality)-building foods are essential to maintain and boost fertility, as it helps to regulate ovulation.

Ayurvedic diet for fertility

In Ayurveda, diet is an important aspect of human health. Ayurvedic treatment method suggests that women should eat whole foods that are rich in fiber to maintain the hormonal level and to nourish the body at the reproductive age. Experts recommend Ojas-building food like ghee, milk, dates, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, nuts, avocados, saffron, and honey as essential to maintain fertility. Vegan food items like organic, fresh, juicy fruits (plums, peaches, pears, mangoes) and vegetables (asparagus, broccoli), whole grains, plant-based protein sources (beans, lentils, and peas) are always good to maintain fertility.

Some root vegetables, arugula, watercress, chives, garlic, and onion can improve blood circulation. Tomato and a few other vegetables that contains lycopene improves semen quality in males due to their antioxidant property. Therefore, men should increase the intake of food that contain a lot of fresh tomatoes.

Herbs are an integral part of Ayurveda and herbs like Ashwagandha (WithaniaSomnifera),  Amlaki (EmblicaOfficinalis) and Shatavari (Asparagus Racemousus) are recommended to treat infertility.

Combination of herbal ingredients gives a better outcome. Appropriate dosage and the correct combination of herbal treatment are effective to regulate the menstrual cycle (in females), improve sperm quality and quantity (in males), and improve the overall energy level by reducing stress, normalizing sleep cycle, balancing hormonal functioning, promoting blood circulation in the pelvic organs. Moreover, certain herbal medications are recommended as adjuvant therapy to increase the scope of pregnancy for women undergoing IVF cycle.

Mensu and Chyavanprash are two herbal ayurvedic formulations that have a synergistic effect to establish the balance between two reproductive hormones including Follicle Stimulating Hormone and the Luteinizing Hormone.

Dadimadighrita, NarayanatailamKalyanagulam, Kalyanaghrita, Phalasarpis,  Satapushpatailam, are ayurvedic medicated ghee (clarified butter) or oil commonly used to improve fertility.

In Ayurveda, intake of processed food, canned products, excessive carbohydrate, and chemical or hormone loaded food items such as poultry, dairy, fish and meat items are strictly restricted. Intake of these items is said to diminish fertility.

Ayurvedic diet for pregnancy

The outcome of fertility is pregnancy, which is a precious moment for every parent. The mother’s body continues to evolve during pregnancy to support the foetus growth. Food plays an important role to nourish both the mother and the foetus for the creation of a beautiful creature. In Ayurveda, a monthly food regimen is recommended for the mother during her gestational period.

First trimester: During this period, foetus is unstable in the uterus. The mother’s body also starts to evolve. In this condition, cold, liquid and naturally sweet food items help to cool down the body. Ayurveda suggests having a cup of lukewarm cow milk with one tablespoon of water chestnut (Singhoda) powder and ghee to stabilize the foetus in the uterus. Sufficient amount of cow milk and ghee is essential to obtain adequate nutrition during this period.

Second trimester: At this stage, the food intake of the mother should gradually increase as it should be able to supply sufficient nutrients to the growing foetus. Curd rice, ghee and milk are advocated in Ayurveda as healthy food during this period along with fresh fruits, vegetables and whole-grain items. These provide sufficient calcium, dairy nutrients, and other essential vitamins and minerals to the mother and the foetus. It is also advised that food intake should be more during daytime, which means breakfast and lunch should be heavier than dinner.

Third trimester: Here, the mother’s plate should have a balanced amount of green vegetables, fresh fruits, dairy products, and whole-grain items.

Food during pregnancy and lactation:

  • To prevent anaemic condition, garden cress seeds roasted in cow’s ghee added to lukewarm milk and honey is considered a healthy tonic for all expecting mothers.
  • In the second-trimester, soya milk, corn soup, and egg yolk are recommended for the bone development of the foetus.
  • Apricot dipped in honey have multiple benefits. This acts as a nerve-tonic, improves blood circulation, and prevents constipation and infections.
  • Black currant juice is a good option to avoid urinary difficulties and infections.
  • Intake of four to six dates that are soaked overnight in cow’s milk helps to improve haemoglobin level of the mother and also helps blood and bone formation in the foetus.
  • Regular intake of spinach reduces the risk of abortion. Six teaspoons of fresh spinach juice is very useful to improve breast milk secretion, prevent anaemic condition and improve overall health after delivery of the child.
  • Moringa (Sahajan) leaf is recommended to breastfeeding mothers, as it acts as galactagogues and increases the flow or production of breast milk.

Follow the ayurvedic diet during reproductive age, ante-natal, post-natal and pregnancy, and every woman would be able to give birth to and groom a healthy baby.

Dr Nita Sharma Das

Ph.D (Alternative Medicine)

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