How to reduce inflammation in your diet and increase your fertility

While the common hormonal disorder polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can inhibit pregnancy, one of the most underestimated obstacles in fertility is inflammation— specifically the type that results from diet. A 2014 study published in the journal Seminars in Reproductive Medicine showed that inflammation can throw estrogen and progesterone, the two main hormones involved in the menstruation cycle, out of whack. When these two hormones are out of balance, it’s nearly impossible to get pregnant or take a baby to full term.

Inflammation contributes to estrogen dominance, a hormonal state that consists of having too little progesterone in your body compared with your estrogen. This can lead to progesterone resistance, which can prevent your progesterone hormone receptors from working properly. When these receptors don’t work correctly, your body can’t utilize progesterone, and that can lead to recurrent miscarriages if the problem isn’t addressed. If you’re having trouble getting pregnant or are experiencing miscarriages, try reducing inflammation to get your hormones back on track.

Here are a handful of ways to reduce inflammation through your lifestyle:

Avoid trans fats and fast foods

There is a link between infertility and diet. A big source of inflammation is fat. The more fat you have, the more inflammatory issues you’re likely to get, and the more hormone imbalance you’re susceptible to. A 2011 study published in the journal Developmental Period Medicine found that avoiding trans fats and unsaturated fatty acids found in sweets, chips and fast foods can help prevent infertility. So cut out McDonald’s and Wendy’s, and instead look for items with anti-inflammatory properties. Go for dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach, and try adding spices like turmeric to your favorite dishes.

Drop some pounds

Because fat cells produce estrogen, being overweight can in and of itself be a problem because it can contribute to estrogen dominance. If you’re overweight, simply losing 10 to 15 pounds— or any weight at all— can go a long way in getting your hormones back to where they should be. Whether it’s through changing your diet, exercising more, or both, any loss of fat can aid in reducing inflammation.

Invest in probiotics

Various research has been introduced showing probiotics’ effect on inflammation, including a 2008 study published in the World Journal Gastroenterol. As reported by Reproductive Biomedicine Online, probiotics specifically containing lactobacilli can treat abnormal vaginal bacteria, which has been associated with miscarriages. According to the Cleveland Clinic, good sources of probiotics include fermented and soy drinks, buttermilk, some soft cheeses, kim chi, sauerkraut and various types of pickles. Ask your physician about lactobacilli probiotics and how they may be useful to you.

Lower your cortisol levels

Too much secretion of the stress hormone cortisol can lead to inflammatory responses in the body. A 2012 study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found a link between stressors in social environments and inflammatory processes. To keep those cortisol levels low, try meditating, yoga, relaxation exercises, or any routine you typically do to de-stress.

Even if you follow only one or two of these recommendations, you’ll reduce inflammation in your body— and that’s a positive step toward re-balancing your ratio of estrogen and progesterone. This is essential to the fertility battle.