Foods to avoid if you’re trying to conceive

Make these changes to your diet to help with your baby-making.
© MSN Healthy Living // © MSN Health

You know you should avoid certain foods when you’re pregnant. But did you know that there are a whole lot of foods to avoid if you're trying to conceive? We spoke to nutritionist Carina Norris, author of the You Are What You Eat  books, about changes you should be making to your diet to boost fertility.

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If you’re preparing to conceive, now’s the time to cut back on your drinking. A Danish study has shown drinking between one and five drinks a week can reduce a women’s chances of conceiving, and 10 drinks or more decreases the likelihood of conception even further, although exactly how alcohol makes women less fertile isn’t understood clearly.

“You don’t have to deny yourself completely,” Norris says. “Just be aware of your consumption and try to stick to no more than two small glasses a week.”

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Who would have though the humble pea could be an anti-fertility food? Peas contain a chemical called m-xylohydroquinone, which can prevent pregnancy, so switch to another green vegetable to make sure you are getting enough veggies in your diet.

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Soybeans and soy food

Some medical studies have found that large quantities of soy protein can inhibit fertility. If you are having trouble conceiving, then it might be worth ditching the soy milk and tofu.

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Research groups at Yale University School of Medicine and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have confirmed that consuming more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day reduces fertility, but a study from Alicante University in Spain found effects only at levels of 500 milligrams per day or more.

The bottom line is: For your best chance of conceiving quickly, reduce or eliminate caffeine consumption.

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Sugary drinks

Excessive sugar can lead to low blood sugar, which can upset levels of reproductive hormones.

“You want your hormones to be as balanced and stable as possible when trying to conceive,” explains Dr. Pam Spurr. So ditch the soda and stick to water instead.

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Certain types of fish

Although fish is generally very healthy, certain types are high in mercury, which can be dangerous to your unborn baby. Because mercury can accumulate in your body and linger there for more than a year, it's best to avoid high-mercury fish such as swordfish and mackerel while you're trying to conceive.

Instead, switch to a lower mercury fish such as cooked salmon once a week, “which is packed full of vitamin B12,” Norris says, “and really good for actually boosting fertility.”

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Canned food

A new study suggests that the common canned food chemical BPA, or bisphenol A, could lower a woman's chance of getting - and staying - pregnant while on IVF treatment. BPA, a potent hormone-disrupting chemical with a long rap sheet of health problems, is already one of the suspected environmental causes of infertility.

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