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5 Foods To Avoid If You're Trying To Get Pregnant

Bindiya Gandhi, M.D.
December 4, 2017
Bindiya Gandhi, M.D.
By Bindiya Gandhi, M.D.
Dr. Bindiya Gandhi is an American Board Family Medicine–certified physician who completed her family medicine training at Georgia Regents University/Medical College of Georgia.
Photo by Lumina
December 4, 2017

I often see many women in my practice who are unsuccessfully trying to conceive after numerous cycles. There are many reasons for this ranging from diet to lifestyle, hormonal imbalance, poor nutrient content, poor detoxification, and genetic variances. Not to mention many chronic medical problems, including stress, affect fertility.

After talking to my patient about all of these factors in detail, I often like to start with diet since tweaking a few things can actually improve fertility. After some questioning, there are a few foods women are often ingesting, unaware that may actually decrease their fertility. These are five foods I encourage women to avoid when trying to conceive:

1. Turmeric.

As much as I am a huge fan of curcumin and turmeric for my patients for its anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer fighting benefits, I encourage patients not to take additional curcumin supplements when trying to conceive. So using it in your daily cooking is fine, but when taking high doses of it for its other benefits, it can negatively affect fertility by acting1 like an oral contraceptive instead.

2. Stevia.

Even though stevia is a great natural sugar substitute, it may be one you want to use with caution when trying to conceive. In studies2 on3 rats, stevia actually decreased fertility in male rats and acted as a contraceptive in females.

3. Alcohol.

Excessive alcohol consumption (more than two drinks a night) can deplete your body of essential nutrients, like B vitamins, that are crucial for helping your baby develop. Excessive alcohol can negatively affect4 sperm production in males, and more than two drinks a night can do the same in older females trying to conceive. Excessive alcohol intake also increases oxidation stress, glucose metabolism, and overall inflammation in the body, which makes it harder to conceive.

4. Low-fat dairy.

Studies show5 that consumption of low-fat dairy like milk and yogurt may negatively affect women trying to conceive due to its androgen levels. This effect was especially noted in females with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is associated with irregular cycles, fertility struggles, increased testosterone, weight gain, and insulin resistance. This is likely due to androgens remaining in the dairy products when the fat has been removed. In fact, studies show6 that full-fat dairy products improve fertility and ovulation.

5. Soda.

Studies show that regularly consuming two or more caffeinated soft drinks negatively affected ovulation and fertility. This is believed to be due to the high sugar content, artificial sweeteners (in diet drinks), chemicals, and BPA, which negatively7 affect8 glucose metabolism and ovulation. Excessive caffeine also increases cortisol production and spikes blood sugar as well as increases chances of ovulation disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome. There was no association with caffeine, especially with coffee and tea, affecting fertility but mainly sodas.

Bindiya Gandhi, M.D. author page.
Bindiya Gandhi, M.D.

Dr. Bindiya Gandhi is an American Board Family Medicine–certified physician who studied family medicine at Georgia Regents University/Medical College of Georgia. She completed her undergraduate training at the University of Georgia with a bachelor's of science in biology and psychology in 2004 and her doctor of medicine at American University of Antigua College of Medicine in 2010. She completed an integrative medicine fellowship at the University of Arizona with Dr. Andrew Weil. She is also currently working on her functional medicine training with the Institute of Functional Medicine. Her interests include integrative, holistic, and functional medicine; women's health; preventive medicine; international medicine; and health care reform. She's also a certified yoga instructor and Reiki master. She enjoys writing and educating everyone on important health matters.