Our food affects fertility

Eat right when you want to have a baby

liliput-lounge.de: When a couple has decided to have children, most of them want the baby to come as quickly as possible. How long does it actually take for most couples for their wish to come true?
Uta König: The probability of getting pregnant is no more than 20 percent per cycle, even for young, healthy couples. This means that it takes an average of 5 months for them to become pregnant. For couples in their mid-30s, waiting for a year is completely normal. Forty-year-olds often try longer before they become pregnant.

How long should couples wait to seek advice from an expert if the child is a long time coming?
As soon as they feel insecure and in any case when symptoms arise, for example cycle problems. Fertility specialists advise all couples not to take too much time, but to seek professional help in good time so as not to waste valuable time. There can be physical causes - in men or women. Very often, however, no organic causes can be found.

What options are there to stimulate fertility without medical help?
Eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep and exercise. It is very important that the ability to enjoy and enjoy life is not neglected. This also includes pleasurable sex, not only because the abdominal organs are supplied with blood, but also because reproduction should be fun for both partners.

What role does a couple's way of life play?
A very big one. Even the egg and sperm cells prefer to be healthy. The endocrine system also benefits from a healthy lifestyle. Women often notice this very quickly: Stress and lack of sleep, for example, can mess up the cycle. In men, the connection is not that obvious, but in them, too, tension affects potency, libido and semen quality.

You have dealt intensively with the subject of “nutrition and the desire to have children”. How did you come up with this topic?
Through discussions with doctors and therapists who deal with couples who want to have children in their daily practice. They repeatedly emphasize the importance of nutrition - unfortunately, they usually don't have the time to educate their patients accordingly.

How does diet affect the female cycle?
Sometimes huge. For example, crash diets can mean that a woman no longer has a cycle. If the supply of nutrients is not correct, the first thing the body does is stop its sexual functions - this protection serves to prevent the organism from being burdened with pregnancy in times of need.

When should you definitely start to change your diet?
From around three to four months before the planned conception, a varied and balanced diet favors the woman's willingness to conceive. The production of the male semen takes about 72 days, which is why it makes sense for the partner to live particularly healthy two to three months before conception.

In ancient China, a “baby program” was even started two years before the planned conception in order to have healthy offspring. I emphasize: It's not just about getting pregnant more easily. It's also about giving your baby the best possible start in life. Today, the findings of epigenetics confirm that many diseases are created by the parents' diet even before pregnancy.

What are the most important vitamins and vital substances for our reproduction?
Above all, B vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E as well as selenium and zinc - we need them for our sex hormones and the maturation of egg and sperm cells. And because the thyroid gland also plays a role, an adequate iodine supply is also important.

So is it enough to take a good multivitamin?
No, not. Natural vitamins from food are considered the first choice by nutritionists. If you eat healthy and varied, you don't have to worry about your vitamin supply in general.

However, folic acid is an exception. This B vitamin promotes the baby's nerve development, and problems such as spina bifida occur less often. This is a serious illness in which the mantle around the spinal cord does not close completely. To prevent this, women who want to have a child should take 0.4 milligrams daily in the form of a preparation. In addition, you should eat foods rich in folic acid, for example spinach, kale, citrus fruits, nuts or whole grains.

What does a healthy and varied diet look like for you?
As a TCM therapist, I orient myself towards the five-element diet. The quantitative evaluation of the food according to the vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats or carbohydrates it contains does not play a role. Much more important is their energetic quality. Therefore, the meals should be freshly prepared and contain all five flavors (sweet, hot, salty, sour, bitter).

Important: Food that is currently in season should be preferred - they have the better nutrient content and ensure that we eat a varied diet. Otherwise you tend to only eat your favorite foods all year round.

Is there anything else to consider?
You should eat mostly cooked food - this way we relieve our digestive organs of a lot of work. Grains such as rye, spelled or rice, legumes such as peas, lentils or chickpeas, and vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, beetroot, lamb's lettuce, endive salad and berries should form the basis of meals.

And when it's cool outside or when you're shivering, you should eat warming spices, fennel, onions, leeks, as well as stews and soups with legumes, root vegetables or cabbage vegetables. Unfortunately, women in particular often rely on energetically “cold” food, for example raw vegetables, salad, fruit, yoghurt and chilled drinks. This can have a negative impact on fertility.

Which foods should definitely be removed from the menu?
I don't believe in prohibited lists. Of course, you shouldn't be fed up with sweets, chips and junk food - these are just as bad for your health as caffeine and alcohol in excess. But in well-dosed amounts, these things are also fine. They often help us to feel good.

Does it matter whether I shop at the discount store or at the market?
Good food has its price. With animal products in particular, more and more people are interested in the circumstances under which the animals lived. Incidentally, of course, it depends a lot on how I use it to prepare my meals. Healthy and tasty food can also be cooked with ingredients from the discounter.

What would be your main advice to a couple wishing to have a child?
Plan enough waiting time - the older you are, the longer it can take before the pregnancy you want to become a reality. Do not despair after just a few months. Do not put yourself under inappropriate pressure!

Uta King is a medical journalist and author of various books on the subject of having children and fertility. The mother of two is also a trained alternative practitioner for TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) and homeopathy with her own practice. More information at www.koenig-heilpraxis.deBook tip: Uta König: We want a baby. From monk's pepper to in-virtro. Alternative and conventional medicine at a glance, rororo paperback, 160 pages, 2003 (6th edition) ISBN 978-3-499-61561-0. € 9.95