A lot of women come to our clinic for both natural fertility and IVF support acupuncture, and they ask what else they can do to improve their general health and hence their chance of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy.
I am a strong believer that a healthy balanced diet with all the right nutrients is absolutely necessary to getting your body ready for conceiving a baby.
Here is a list of 5 things you can do to get you into better health for conception
- Eat a Mediterranean type diet. A Mediterranean diet consists of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, beans, seeds, nuts and extra virgin olive oil. Proteins include lean chicken, fish, seafood, legumes, nuts seeds, feta cheese and eggs. A study done in the Netherlands found that a Mediterranean diet increased pregnancy rates by 40% in couples undergoing IVF
A Mediterranean diet has also been found to reduce cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and helps with weight loss. In another study, it was suggested that a higher intake of vegetable oils in the Mediterranean diet is beneficial due to the presence of fatty acids especially linoleic acid in these vegetable oils. This fatty acid is a precursor of the prostaglandins that play an important role in the ovulatory cycle and endometrial receptivity”
- Avoid a Western DietAvoid high consumption of low-fat dairy food, animal protein, trans- unsaturated fats, refined carbohydrates and refined sugar. Studies have shown that this kind of diet is associated with a high dietary glycaemic load, and is linked to ovulatory infertility. Refined sugar and foods that have a high glycaemic index (GI), rapidly increase glucose levels in the blood. Research studies show that insulin and glucose metabolism may affect fertility and lead to ovulatory dysfunction.
- Increase protein in your dietProtein intake is important for fertility as protein is essential for important enzyme reactions and it provides the building blocks to making healthy eggs and hormones. Protein sources from fish, eggs, chicken and lean meat as well as vegetable sources like tofu, lentils, beans, chick peas and soya seeds are all crucial to egg health.
Eat 3 – 4 servings per day. A serving size is the size of a deck of cards.
Ensure plant-based proteins are included. Plant-based proteins such as beans and lentils are also high in folate which is an essential nutrient for the woman wanting to conceive.
- Consume more healthy whole foodsHere is a list of delicious foods that are good for fertile health.Berries – high in fibre, antioxidants and Vitamin C
Oysters – high in Zn, B12, Iron and Selenium
Avocado – high in folate and Vitamin K
Spinach – high in folate and iron
Almonds – high in monosaturated fats which are good for reproductive health.
Eggs – good source of B12, protein and Iron
Salmon – high in protein and omega 3s, Vit D and selenium.
Broccoli – high in polyamines which are beneficial to both male and female reproductive health.
Hazelnuts, pistachios – also high in polyamines
Sunflower seeds – high in Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, folate and selenium.
Wholegrains – a great complex carbohydrate high in folic acid and fibre
Lentils and beans – high in protein for ovulatory health also high in folate.
- Consume Full Fat Dairy Products and Aged Cheese In small amounts full fat dairy products such as milk and aged cheese is beneficial for fertility. A great source of calcium, protein, B12 and the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Avoid low fat milk and dairy products. Research has been done and concludes that a high intake of low-fat dairy products may increase incidence of anovulatory infertility whereas consumption of high fat dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese decrease the incidence of anovulatory infertility.
- Vujkovic M.de Vries J.H. Lindemans J. Macklon N.S.van der Spek P.J. Steegers E.A.et al.The preconception Mediterranean dietary pattern in couples undergoing in vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection treatment increases the chance of pregnancy.
Fertil Steril. 2010; 94: 2096-2101
- Toledo E, Lopez-del Burgo C, Ruiz-Zambrana A, Donazar M, Navarro-Blasco I, Martínez-Gonzalez MA, de Irala J. “Dietary patterns and difficulty conceiving: a nested case-control study.” Fertility & Sterility.96(5):1149-53. Web. 9/11/2011.
- Chavarro J.E. Rich-Edwards J.W. Rosner B.A. Willett W.C. A prospective study of dietary carbohydrate quantity and quality in relation to risk of ovulatory infertility. Eur J Clin Nutr.2009; 63: 78-86
- Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Protein intake and ovulatory infertility. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2008;198(2):210.e1-e7. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2007.06.057
- E. Chavarro, J.W. Rich-Edwards B. Rosner, W.C. Willett. “A prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility.” Human Reproduction.22 (5): 1340-1347. Web. 2/28/2007.