Diet and Fertility

Some out there are promoting the “fertility diet.”

According to an article in that great medical jouirnal, USA Today, “Many nutritional experts say follow the “fertility diet.” The plan is based on research from the landmark Nurses’ Health Study — one of the largest and most comprehensive studies on women’s health — which informed 10 steps for improving fertility through changes in diet, weight and activity.” I say it’s just common sense from everything we all have ever heard about diet, weight, activity and general health.

They claim that if you’re trying to conceive (TTC), the “fertility diet” can increase ovulation, which in turn increases a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. The Nurses’ Health Study, upon which the plan’s recommendations are based, found a diet high in vegetables and fruit, whole grains and beans, healthy fats, certain protein-rich foods, and full-fat dairy was related to a 66% lower risk of anovulatory infertility (when ovulation doesn’t occur) and a 28% lower risk of other causes of infertility.

Here are the ten recommendations:

1. Avoid trans fats. Eating trans fat raises the level of your LDL (bad) cholesterol, according to the Food and Drug Administration. It’s one of the reasons the FDA has ordered food manufacturers to phase them out. Trans fats are found in fried foods (like french fries) and in baked goods (like cookies and cakes).

2. Consume more unsaturated vegetable oils. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated may help improve your blood cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. Add more olive oil and canola oil to your diet, and try to consume healthy fats from foods like fish and avocados.

3. Get more protein from vegetables. Instead of a serving of steak, consider a serving of lentils.

4. Eat slow carbs. Choose whole grains, oatmeal and vegetables, which are are not highly refined, over carbs like white bread and pasta, which can increase ovulatory infertility, which Brissette said can mean irregular ovulation or lack of ovulation.

5. Make it whole milk. If you’re trying to get pregnant, whole-fat diary is the best choice. Opt for whole milk over skim, and enjoy a small dish of ice cream or full fat yogurt each day.

6. Take a multi-vitamin. Folic acid (400 mcg) and vitamin B are essential. The CDC says folic acid helps prevent birth defects.

7. Don’t neglect iron intake. Get plenty of iron, but not from red meat. Eat vegetables high in iron, like spinach, and consider taking an iron supplement.

8. Drink water. Skip the soda. Everything else (coffee, alcohol) in moderation.

9. Get to a “fertility zone” weight. Being in the “fertility zone” means achieving a BMI of 20 to 24. Weighing too much or too little can affect your menstrual cycle.

10. Be active. If you don’t exercising regularly, starting could help your fertility. If you’re already active, be careful not to overdo it. According to Resolve, low body fat can affect ovulation and fertility.

I am sure none of this is new to you and I do not know if it really improves fertility, but anything that improves your general health is good when you are trying to conceive. For more in formation on lifestyle issues, please see our Lifestyle & Fertility page.

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