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 5 Changes to make to your diet now

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Sarah
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Number of posts : 2618
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Registration date : 2007-09-11

PostSubject: 5 Changes to make to your diet now   14th September 2007, 1:08 am

Improve your diet
The sooner you start eating well, the more likely you are to get pregnant. For both men and women, food and fertility are linked. You need to stick to a balanced diet to boost your chances of conceiving and of having a healthy baby.

Eat several servings of fruit, vegetables, grains such as whole wheat bread, and calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, cheese, and milk every day. Certain vitamins and nutrients such as vitamins C and E, zinc, and folic acid are important for making healthy sperm. Not getting enough nutrients can affect your periods, making it difficult to predict when you ovulate. And you may not ovulate at all if you've lost a drastic amount of weight or are obese.

What to avoid
If your eating habits leave something to be desired and many people's do you'll have to make some adjustments. Some solid advice: Cut out or only occasionally drink alcohol. (For non-alcoholic alternatives, see our list of the best virgin drinks). Stop using recreational drugs and, if you smoke, quit. All of these substances and habits can harm a developing fetus.

You may also want to cut back on caffeine. The research on whether caffeine can affect fertility is mixed. Experts generally agree that low to moderate caffeine consumption, less than 300 mg a day or about the equivalent of three cups of coffee, won't affect your fertility, but your doctor may recommend that you cut caffeine out entirely to play it safe. Learn more about caffeine and fertility.

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 shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish while you're trying to conceive. Instead, eat lower-mercury fish such as salmon and canned light tuna once or twice a week. For more on fish safety, read our article.

Processed meats should be consumed in small amounts, and smoked or raw meats should be avoided entirely during pregnancy. Even hot dogs or deli meats should be heated until they are steaming before you eat them if you are pregnant.

Take a vitamin-mineral supplement.
Although you can meet almost all of your nutritional needs through a balanced diet, many experts believe that even the healthiest eaters can use extra help. You may find it particularly hard to eat well when you're at work or parenting other children, so taking a prenatal vitamin ensures that you're getting enough folic acid and other nutrients to boost your chances of conceiving.

Remember that a supplement is a safeguard, not a substitute for a sound diet. And since regular over-the-counter multivitamins may contain megadoses of vitamins and minerals that could be harmful to a developing baby, it's smart to switch to a pill formulated specifically for pregnant women. Those who consume a vegetarian diet may also need Vitamin D and B12 supplements in addition to extra protein. Talk with your doctor about the right prenatal supplement for you

Get lots of folic acid -- at least 400 micrograms a day.
This vitamin has been proven to reduce a baby's risk of neural-tube birth defects such as spina bifida, and it is linked to a lower incidence of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and diabetes.

Most women of child-bearing age should get 400 micrograms (mcg) daily, the equivalent of 0.4 milligrams (mg), according to the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS). If you have a family history of neural-tube birth defects or take medication for seizures, your doctor may suggest that you boost your daily intake to 4,000 mcg, or 4 mg, starting at least a month before you conceive and continuing throughout your first trimester.

A good over-the-counter prenatal vitamin should contain more than the minimum recommendation of folic acid, between 600 and 800 mcg what you'll need during pregnancy. In addition, you can eat folate-rich foods, such as dark green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale, citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fortified breads and cereals. Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, so your body will flush out the excess if you consume too much. But there's a downside to being water-soluble, too. You can lose a lot of this vitamin in cooking water, so steam or cook vegetables in a small amount of water to preserve the folate.

For some women, there's an exception to this rule: Getting too much folate may hide a B-12 deficiency, which is sometimes a problem for vegetarians. Ask your doctor or midwife if you think you may be at risk.

Find your ideal body weight.
Shedding some pounds, or gaining a few if you're underweight, while you're attempting to get pregnant is a good idea, since you want to be as close as possible to your recommended weight when you conceive. Being over- or underweight can make it harder to get pregnant. Also, overweight women have more pregnancy and birth complications, and underweight women are more likely to have a low-birth-weight baby.

Use our calculator to figure out if you should lose or gain weight.

While you're following a smart eating plan with low-fat, high-fiber foods, start or increase an exercise routine. If you're overweight, aim to lose one to two pounds a week, a safe rate of weight loss. Extreme weight loss from crash dieting can deplete your body's nutritional stores, which isn't a good way to start a pregnancy.
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