This post and recipe is By Diana Weil, Matcha.com's Integrative Nutritionist and Food Relationship Specialist.
The decision to have a child may be one of the biggest ones you will make in your lifetime — and one that can often come with many challenges.
While we hope everyone making this decision has a smooth road to parenthood, fertility issues affect up to 15% of couples. It’s very normal to have trouble getting pregnant and conceiving.
There are, however, natural ways that have been studied by scientists to help increase and support fertility. In fact, food and lifestyle choices have a significant impact on fertility for both males and females, and small day-to-day changes can significantly increase your likelihood of getting pregnant.
Some of these choices may come in surprisingly sweet places- like a cup of matcha!
Besides the delicious taste and vibrant color, could matcha green tea really help with pregnancy? We’ve put together a report covering the latest research around matcha + fertility, and all things natural when trying to conceive and get pregnant.
Why Antioxidants (Which matcha is FULL of) are very important in reproductive health
Matcha is well known for containing catechins, a compound that acts as an antioxidant. A fun fact is that while green tea also contains catechins, matcha has a whopping three times more.
Antioxidants are essential for overall health, but especially when considering fertility, because they can neutralize free radicals in the body.
Free radicals have become a buzzword lately and something you'll often hear/see in the skin care industry. But what exactly are they, and why are they problematic? Free radicals are unstable molecules that create oxidative stress and damage DNA and our cells. As a result, they can decrease sperm function and sperm motility and affect egg quality. Free radicals lack an electron and therefore "steal" from other molecules, which results in damage.
While it's normal for our bodies to produce some free radicals, such as when we exercise, and having a certain number of free radicals is needed for several normal physiological processes (like ovulation), our day-to-day lives often create an excess number of free radicals, which can then impact both female and male fertility.
Toxins such as BPA, herbicides, pesticides, smoking, obesity, poor nutrition, imbalanced insulin levels, excess caffeine, and keeping your cell phone near your groin area, among other factors, can all increase free radicals and, therefore, oxidative stress.
Thankfully this isn't all doom and gloom, however. Antioxidants can be thought of as selfless superheroes when it comes to free radicals.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating their electrons and therefore stabilizing the molecule. This "donation" turns an unstable and dangerous molecule into an unobtrusive one.
This chemical process helps protect cellular DNA and egg and sperm supply. So next time you drink a glass of matcha, find peace knowing that you are giving your body the tools to reduce dangerous free radicals.
Matcha is full of a variety of nutrients essential for fertility
Eating a healthy and nutritious diet is vital for fertility and preparing your body for pregnancy. Proper nutrition plays a massive role in getting pregnant and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Many nutrients become especially crucial in fertility — and there are quite a few that can be found in matcha:
Iron is an essential nutrient, and having appropriate iron levels has been shown to lower the risk of ovulatory infertility. Being low in iron while pregnant can also create risks for your baby. There are two forms of iron: heme (which comes from animals) and non-heme (which comes from plants. Matcha contains non-heme iron. Non-heme iron isn't quite as bioavailable as heme iron (meaning your body has a more challenging time absorbing the iron).
Still, vitamin C can make non-heme much more bioavailable. Matcha, thankfully, contains vitamin C!
A diet rich in fiber (which matcha has) helps keep hormones in check and supports fertility health
Eating a diet rich in fiber helps control cholesterol levels, maintain regular bowel movements, control blood sugar levels, helps with weight control, and also helps to balance out estrogen levels. Wool balances out estrogen levels by binding to the hormone in the intestines and removing it. Having high estrogen levels can increase your chances of fertility issues, so being able to remove any excess is essential. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people are deficient in fiber. But matcha can help! Matcha contains 385 mg of fiber for every gram of matcha. It's an easy and delicious way to increase your fiber daily.
Matcha is also high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Maintaining adequate amounts of these vitamins is essential for the overall health for any healthy adult — and this need only intensifies when trying to conceive.
While matcha contains many necessary nutrients, taking a multivitamin may still be a good idea when trying to conceive.
Matcha can help you relax — stress and anxiety often worsens fertility problems
Stress can be a massive downfall to fertility. The more your stress increases, the less likely you are to conceive. Constantly feeling stressed may also change your habits- think eating sugar for comfort, drinking alcohol, smoking, or skipping out on your workout or daily meditation practice. All of these lifestyle choices can add up and impact your fertility.
Matcha contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which can help manage stress and anxiety. The best part about L-theanine is that it can give you a calming feeling without making you drowsy.
Some studies have also shown that L-theanine can benefit your immune system. Maybe you've noticed the relaxed yet focused energy a glass of matcha delivers compared to a cup of jitter-inducing espresso. Just one more reason to thoroughly enjoy your matcha each day!
Matcha has much lower levels of caffeine than coffee and is processed differently by the body — making it a safer energy boosting option while trying to get pregnant
While there isn't conclusive evidence that caffeine lowers fertility, a few studies have shown that women who consume more than 500 milligrams of caffeine daily take 9/12 months longer to get pregnant.
Since matcha can give you that same alert feeling, but with 1/2 of the caffeine, it may be worth making the switch while trying to conceive. Matcha has about 35-50mg of caffeine per gram, whereas coffee has 95mg.
You can learn more about matcha caffeine here.
Matcha is also a natural aphrodisiac that may help get you in the mood
Having trouble getting in the mood to conceive? Have a matcha date with your significant other!
According to studies, matcha can be an effective natural aphrodisiac that boosts libido and overall sexual pleasure while also offering a grounding and blissful effect.
Consider how you are preparing your matcha to optimize for fertility
It's also important to consider what you may be putting in your cup of matcha and how that may impact your fertility. For example, eating low-fat dairy products may increase your risk of infertility, whereas eating high-fat dairy may decrease your chances of conceiving. So, if you add milk to your matcha latte, go for the full-fat version!
The bottom line
Regardless if you are trying to have a baby now or later on, there are practical steps you can take to boost your fertility, overall health, and chances of having a happy and healthy baby. Eating a nutritious diet, decreasing your overall stress, and enjoying your cup of matcha all belong on this list!
If you are concerned about your fertility, talk with your healthcare team to decide what options make the most sense for you and your body.
Trying to switch from coffee to matcha? Check out our article on how you can seamlessly make the switch from coffee to matcha.
You may also like:
Chavarro, J. E., Rich-Edwards, J. W., Rosner, B. A., & Willett, W. C. (2006). Iron intake and risk of ovulatory infertility. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 108(5), 1145–1152. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.AOG.0000238333.37423.ab
Oliwenstein, Lori. "USC cancer researchers report fiber-estrogen link." USC News, 22 October, 2004, https://news.usc.edu/24318/USC-cancer-researchers-report-fiber-estrogen-link/#:~:text=What%20they%20found%20was%20that,so%20did%20the%20hormone%20levels
Rahman, S. U., Huang, Y., Zhu, L., Feng, S., Khan, I. M., Wu, J., Li, Y., & Wang, X. (2018). Therapeutic Role of Green Tea Polyphenols in Improving Fertility: A Review. Nutrients, 10(7), 834. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10070834
Sharma R, Biedenharn KR, Fedor JM, Agarwal A. Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2013 Jul 16;11:66. DOI: 10.1186/1477-7827-11-66. PMID: 23870423; PMCID: PMC3717046..