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There are many resources online that offer diet tips to those trying to increase their fertility. For the most part, these articles focus on things that are so general as to be worthless: drink less alcohol, quit caffeine, stop eating processed sugar... 

All of the above suggestions are good ones, but they are not specific to fertility. Also, the standard suggestions are all focused on what to *stop* doing. It's actually very difficult for a generally healthy person who is looking for tips on fertility foods to find a list of foods that they *should* be eating!

Part of the problem is that there is no one diet that is "good for fertility." What you should eat is very specific to who you are, what is going on in your body, and what phase on the menstrual cycle you are in. Since I can't offer personalized diets through this blog (we have Ask An Acupuncturist for that!) I'll focus on foods that are good depending on where you are in the cycle.

Recently, I published a blog post that reviewed the four phases of the menstrual cycle. Using this  as a guide, here are some foods that are good for each phase.

1. Blood Phase: In this phase the body is purging all the old blood and tissue from the last cycle. This phase starts on day 1 of your period, and lasts til about day 7. Foods should be focused on moving the blood and promoting circulation. Some good options for everyone are: potatoes; shitake mushroom; and kidney beans.

If feel easily warm and you are in the blood phase, good foods to add are: Crab; mung bean; asparagus; eggplant; kelp; celery; and banana.

If you crave warming foods while in the blod phase, good choices are: shrimp; oats; mustard leaf; peach; vinegar; ginseng; black pepper, and turmeric.

Many of these are also good foods for chronic pain.

2. Yin Phase. In this phase the body continues to build yin energy in the body, focused on the ovaries. Eventually, one (or two) ovaries reach "full yin," and they transmute from full yin into yang - meaning they pop out an egg and you oviulate (no, that's not the technical medical term). This phase lasts from about day 7 to about day 14 in the textbook menstrual cycle, but of course everyone is different.

Good foods to help your body build yin energy are: artichokes; avocados; asparagus; barley; bananas; millet; oatmeal; peas; seaweed; string beans; sweet potatos; water chestnuts; yam; zucchini; beef; duck; goose; pork (yes, acupuncturists eat meat!); cheese; eggs and milk.

3. Yang Phase. In this phase, which starts at ovulation and goes to about day 21 of the textbook cycle, the body is focused on pushing the egg down the fallopian tube for possible implantation. Then the focus becomes creating and maintaining a warm, safe environment for a possible fetus to grow. 

As you might expect, foods that gently warm the body are good for this phase: ginger; ginger tea; beans; grains; and vegetables such as mustard greens, winter squash, cabbage and kale. 

4. Qi Phase. In the final phase of the cycle - which lasts from about day 21 - 28 in the textbook cycle - In the Qi phase, you should continue with youre yang building foods, and start to add the blood moving foods from phase 1. This will help you prepare for the coming period. If you have heavy cramps or painful periods, this is the most important time of the cycle to mind your diet. Keep foods warm, avoid ice and cold foods, and use heat on the abdomen BEFORE PMS starts.

By eating according to your cycle you will be using food as preventative medicine and helping your body establish and maintain a healthy menstrual cycle, which is by far the best way to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Keep an eye out, I'll be publishing some more specific recipes in blogs to come!

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