- Caffeine can affect fertility in women and men
- Sorry Guys: booze affects sperm quality
- Tap water can have added extras to avoid – like metals and impurities
- Artificial sweeteners have been linked to a raft of health issues from headaches to weight gain, including hormone problems
Most people know that it’s important to eat and live well when you’re pregnant. The mantra is ‘act pregnant to get pregnant’ or ‘preconception care’, as it’s also known.
We all start with the basics: quitting smoking, cutting down on the booze. But it’s not just about the demon drink. Alcohol isn’t the only thing to stop drinking if you’re trying to conceive. Here are some things to watch out for, plus some easy swaps to make, whether you’re trying for a child naturally or using assisted means.
Coffee and tea
Caffeine can affect fertility in women and men. It’s found in coffee, tea, green tea, cola drinks, energy drinks, chocolate and some medication, like headache pills.
Tea also contains tannins, which block absorption of some nutrients. So that’s a double whammy!
If you’re struggling to get pregnant or carry a baby full term, giving up caffeine is a good idea. Drinking two or three cups of regular coffee has been linked to miscarriage and higher rates of stillbirth in some studies.
For the guys, there seems to be a correlation between caffeine intake and sperm health. But before you rush to stock up on decaf, buyer beware! Many decaf products are processed with chemicals and it’s best to reduce them when you’re planning to have a baby. Look for tea and coffee that has been naturally decaffeinated or find other alternatives, like fruit or herbal beverages.
Most women give up their tipple when they find out they are pregnant, because the danger of alcohol to unborn babies is well known. Even exposure to small
amounts is risky.
If you’re planning for a baby, I suggest quitting the booze altogether, or drinking only on very special occasions. Alcohol depletes vitamins and minerals and we need good levels of nutrition to make a healthy baby.
Heavy drinking in women can affect your cycle and ovulation and, ultimately, ability to fall pregnant.
Guys: booze affects sperm quality.
Tap and water from plastic bottles
Drinking plenty of water is key for general and hormonal health, but not all water is created equal – or at least, doesn’t end up that way.
Tap water can have added extras to avoid – like metals and impurities. Buy a water filter and filter those nasties out. Drink, wash food and cook with filtered water. Mineral water is great but avoid plastic bottles, which are likely to contain hormone-harming chemicals.
Fizzy drinks and flavoured waters
Fizzy drinks and flavoured waters can be sugar-laden or brimming with artificial sweeteners. Sugar is high in calories, low in nutrients. It can rob your body of nutrients including B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and chromium, all vital for your reproductive health.
Artificial sweeteners have been linked to a raft of health issues from headaches to weight gain, including hormone problems.
Fizzy drinks sometimes contain phosphorus, which can upset calcium stores and balance in the body.
Fruit ‘juice drinks’
Just because it says ‘juice’ on the label doesn’t mean it’s actually juice.
It could be a ‘juice drink’; laced with sugar, artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Some shop-bought smoothies can be sugary or full of unwanted extras too. Only drink real juice or real juice diluted with water or smoothies made from natural ingredients.
What to drink instead?
Stay healthily hydrated by choosing:
- Filtered or mineral water from glass bottles. Six to eight large glasses per day – more if you exercise, if it’s hot, if you haven’t managed to give up caffeine yet and if you’re travelling on a plane. • Herbal and fruit teas – there are so many available, you’re bound to find
one you like. Remember, green tea still has caffeine. Rooibos is naturally decaffeinated.
- Fresh juices, either plain or diluted. Try to have more veggies than fruits in your juice to keep the sugar content low.
- Eat plenty of veggies and fruit – they are mostly water!
Make healthy drinking part of your preconception care plan, as well as healthy eating.