When I was battling infertility, I would have done just about anything to get (and stay) pregnant. I ate organic, took my prenatal vitamins religiously, exercised regularly (but not too much), and tried as much as I could to keep my stress levels in check. I also ate walnuts and pineapple and drank decaffeinated tea daily because various people had said that they “read somewhere” that those items could help with fertility. So I figured that if they could possibly help and could not hurt, why not give them a try?
A Mediterranean diet typically includes a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, fish, and olive oil, as well as low intake of saturated fatty acids, dairy products, meat, and poultry. It emphasizes consuming foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, while consuming a low intake of saturated fats, meat, and dairy products. This dietary style has many known health benefits (such as reducing Type 2 diabetes) and now dietitians at Loyola University Health System (LUHS) are saying that women who watch their weight and closely follow a Mediterranean-style diet may increase their chance of becoming pregnant.
Up to 30% of infertility is due to either being overweight or underweight, according to the National Infertility Association. Both of these extremes in weight cause shifts in hormones, which can affect ovulation.
And while it is great for you to keep a healthy diet and weight, it is also important to remember that approximately 30% percent of infertility issues are due to male issues such as low sperm count and poor mobility. Both of these issues are more common in men who are not at a healthy weight, so both a hopeful mom and a hopeful father might want to consider following these guidelines.
The nutritional recommendations for women who are looking to conceive include the following:
- Reduce intake of foods with trans and saturated fats while increasing intake of monounsaturated fats, such as avocados and olive oil
- Lower intake of animal protein and add more vegetable protein to your diet
- Add more fiber to your diet by consuming whole grains, vegetables and fruit
- Incorporate more vegetarian sources of iron such as legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds and whole grains
- Consume high-fat dairy instead of low-fat dairy
- Take a regular women’s multivitamin
In addition to the guidelines released by Loyola University Health System, recent research has shown that eating a good healthy breakfast could help women with PCOS improve menstrual regularity and increase their chances of fertility.
For more information about weight and fertility, visit the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
Please note that this post is intended to share information and ideas, as well as to create conversation. Please consult a medical professional before making changes to your lifestyle.
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