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Nearly three million women and/or couples face fertility challenges in America. They are not necessarily incapable of conceiving, but factors such as waiting until later in life to start a family, the high-stress lives many of us lead, and health issues, such as a history of using birth control pills, can compromise the reproductive system, making conception seem like an impossible chore. The more women stress about getting pregnant, the more difficult it can become.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long been relied on as a healthy, natural way to treat many conditions, including infertility. One of the most important and proven practices of TCM is adding foods to the diet that can aid in restoring the body’s natural balance.

One of the core principles of conception, according to TCM is “preparing the soil” before pregnancy. So even if you don’t think you have fertility issues, you can increase your chances for an easier time conceiving by adding key foods to your diet in the three to four months before you plan to get pregnant. Eating organic is always recommended as some chemicals added to foods have been linked to infertility.

The healthy salts found in miso—a paste made from fermented soybeans—balances kidney essence. Considered to be the most important organ in the body according to TCM, making sure your kidneys are working properly can greatly improve your fertility chances.

Dark leafy greens such as kale, chard and collards are full of minerals, vitamins and nutrients such as folic acid, which is an important nutrient for once you are pregnant, and can also improve your chances of conceiving.

Beans, such as those shaped like kidneys and ovaries are beneficial to their respective organs. Like the Doctrine of Signatures, nature makes it kind of easy to recognize which foods to eat for our ailments, if we pay attention.

Seeds and some nuts such as almonds are also quite nutritive to your body and can help rejuvenate fertility. So can figs, which are shaped much like ovaries.

TCM suggests that balancing your “water” essence can improve the health of the organs that relate to water, such as the kidneys. A great food for water balance is seaweed. It’s also loaded with minerals and natural salts, which are nourishing and toning.

Sipping teas made from herbs including red clover, dong quai, raspberry and nettles leaves can also be very nurturing and regulating to the reproductive system. You may even have nettles growing in your yard!

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Photo: Jill Ettinger