Oftentimes, people ask about what to eat during pregnancy, but inquiring into what is best to eat before pregnancy may be even more important. Modern American pregnancy culture does not offer much information about what to eat in preparation for pregnancy. However, focusing on diet before becoming pregnant can help you conceive more easily and can help baby be healthy! Before I became pregnant with my first child, I had just recently switched over to a strict AIP diet to address several health concerns: malabsorption of nutrients, endocrine disruption, thyroid issues, IBS, candida, and leaky gut. It was a long laundry list. My health care provider at the time told me that it would be difficult for me to conceive based on my blood work results. One of the main concerns was malabsorption - I wasn't absorbing many of the nutrients I had been eating.  It was the push I needed to make some changes, as I wanted to be able to become pregnant and sustain it. I began eating a more nutrient dense diet full of real whole foods like greens, seafood/fish, high quality meats, larger variety of vegetables, and I was keeping my sugar consumption low. I credit these changes to me being able to get pregnant. My health provider was kind of in shock when I came back two months later and was pregnant!


To start, here's a list of the nutrients essential to optimizing fertility:

- Folate

- Iodine

- Iron

- Vitamin A

- vitamin B 12


- Vitamin D

- Vitamin E

- Vitamin K2

- Zinc

Eating to conceive CAN be easy and can be done by adding the following 5 real foods to your diet.

 Liver
  •  Liver is a known superfood in the autoimmune world and provides three essential nutrients which can help boost fertility: folate, vitamin K2 and iron.
  • Folate deficiency can cause devastating defects on the brain and spinal cord before you even know you are pregnant. Folate can also support adequate birth weight and proper development of the face and heart. Chicken liver is the most folate-rich of all  (Planck, 2009).
  • K2 helps to deposit calcium in the bones while keeping it away from soft tissues like arteries. We also know that K2 is important to maintain healthy sperm (Planck, 2009).
  • It is best to consume liver 1-2 times a week, but make sure the liver you are eating is grass fed and organic in order to minimize your pesticide exposure. If you are not accustomed to eating liver, I would recommend starting with the more mild varieties like chicken, as these are more palatable​
  • You can always try liver pills (which is simply dehydrated liver) if you struggle with eating liver on a consistent basis. 
Olive Oil
  • High quality extra virgin olive oil has been well researched for its anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, and numerous heart healthy macronutrients. It also provides vitamin E which is essential to sperm cell maturation.
    • Being deficient in vitamin E has been linked to low sperm count (Planck, 2009).
    • You can add olive oil into your diet by making salad dressings, drizzling it over sautéed veggies, or adding it to dips.  
Eggs
  • Eggs are one of the best known foods for promoting fertility in women. Vitamin A, vitamin K2 and vitamin B12 are three of the many important nutrients found in eggs.
  •  You cannot make estrogen without Vitamin A, and some say it is just as essential as folate. Why? Because vitamin A is needed when the primitive heart/circulation and hind brain begin to form in the first 3 weeks of pregnancy - often before you know you are pregnant (Planck, 2009). 
  • The entire B vitamin family is important in making sex hormones and producing eggs and sperm.
    •  But vitamin B12 is vital because it promotes sperm health and aids conception in women with anemia (Planck, 2009).
Leafy Greens-
  • Leafy greens contain a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but most importantly they provide extra folate which we know to not only be important during pregnancy but also in the months before pregnancy.
  • Having a daily salad, adding greens to smoothies or soups, or turning them into dips can help you get those extra nutrients needed to optimize your fertility! 

Fish/Seafood
  • Fish and seafood are extremely beneficial in a nutrient dense, real food diet and are known to be heart and brain foods. They are thought to help boost fertility because of several key nutrients: Iodine, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and Zinc.
  • Iodine can help prevent hypothyroidism which is a common and reversible cause of miscarriage and unexplained infertility (Planck, 2009).
    • It is an essential component of thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
    • Iodine is found in many types of seafood including kelp, fish, roe, and milt (fish sperm), and we only need it in small amounts. Iodine deficiency can be associated with menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome, PCOS, and infertility (Planck, 2009).
  • Both men and women need vitamin D to make sex hormones, and it helps regulate the process that determines what a cell is to become (Planck, 2009).
    • It is best to obtain Vitamin D through real foods like fish and seafood, but you can also get it from sunlight.
  • Zinc is essential to mothers, fathers, and babies in every aspect of pregnancy and before.
    • You need zinc to maintain a healthy thyroid and for sex hormone and egg production and also to absorb folate (Planck, 2009).
    •  Men especially need it for the development of sex organs, and they cannot make sperm without it.
    • Oysters and crustaceans are the most rich in Zinc.

My top two recommended sources for learning about real food for you and your baby are, "Real Food for Mother and Baby" by Nina Planck and "Super Nutrition for Babies" by Katherine Erlich and Kelly Genzlinger.

     ">


Erlich, K., & Genzlinger, K. (n.d.). Super Nutrition for Babies.

Planck, N. (2009). Real Food for Mother and Baby. New York, NY: Bloomsbury.

Kellie is a wife, mamma, health coach, and recipe developer for MyCrazyJourney. Celiac disease, digestive issues and a plethora of food intolerances led her to AIP in 2014 and the CEP in 2017. She and her family have since adopted a modified version of these templates. Her goal is to inspire others to take their health into their own hands by cooking foods that are creative, fun, and contributive to health and wellness. Kellie's background is in art and education, but she has always had a passion for food and it's powerful healing properties. Many of her creations are inspired by her experiences and designed to be enjoyed by the entire family! You can find Kellie here at MyCrazyJourney writing guest posts and on Instagram.

>