What is the role of nutrition in fertility?
Diet and nutrition play an important role in the conception and delivery of a healthy baby. A growing unborn child relies on its mother for vitamins, minerals and calories, and the mother requires nutritious food to remain strong and healthy throughout pregnancy. Women and couples struggling with infertility can benefit from dietary changes. A woman’s ability to ovulate is heavily impacted by her body weight. Being both overweight and underweight can have an impact on the ovulation cycle. Women with extremely high or low body fat and weight may stop ovulating and menstruating.
For men, adding antioxidants and other vitamins improves sperm parameters and helps increase sperm health. Men who are either significantly over or under weight may experience a decline in testosterone, a reduced sperm count, as well as a decline in their libido. A healthy range of body fat is between 18 and 25 percent for men, and 25 to 31 percent for women.
The Nurses Health Study found that the women eating just 2 percent of their daily caloric intake in trans fats -- which can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cholesterol levels -- experienced a significant decrease in infertility. Labels should be read carefully for trans fats and foods containing them should be avoided both before and during pregnancy. Increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables is often recommended for women planning to become pregnant. Also recommended are iron and folic acid, which is a type of B vitamin that helps prevent neurological birth defects that may occur in the first three months of pregnancy.
What is fertility nutritional counseling?
Fertility nutritional counseling is a program designed specifically for women and/or couples who wish to conceive and are looking for nutritional guidance. A fertility nutritional counselor evaluates your overall health, diet, and lifestyle. A step-by-step program will be created after the assessment to support fertility needs. This program may include a nutritional analysis, stress reduction applications, food recipes, nutrition suggestions, a fitness routine, and perhaps nutritional supplement suggestions.
Each session lasts about one hour with your nutritional therapist. Sessions are suggested to be held once a month, beginning six months prior to beginning any fertility treatments. These sessions are available for couples and for individuals.
What are the benefits for nutritional counseling?
- Learn what fresh whole foods would be most advantageous in preparing your body for conception
- Learn how to overcome unhealthy habits and cravings
- Achieve a healthy ideal weight
- Deal with any chronic health issues including reproductive issues
- Decide if food based supplementation is right for you
- Build routine exercise routine
- Minimize and deal with stress on a day-to-day basis
What foods help increase fertility?
A common saying during pregnancy is that a woman is “eating for two.” However, it is recommended that expectant mothers add only approximately 100 calories to their diet during the first trimester of pregnancy, and about 300 calories during the second and third trimesters. To increase fertility as well as the health of the blood, cells and hormones, certain foods should be increased.
- Colorful fruits and vegetables: Brightly colored fruits and vegetables, like blueberries, red peppers, and kale are high in nutrients. Two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables a day are recommended.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are needed for optimal fertility. Fish is the best source. Women must be careful, however, about mercury toxicity, which can be harmful to a developing fetus. Mercury can linger in a woman's bloodstream for more than a year.
- Iron: Iron reserves should be increased before a woman becomes pregnant, especially if her periods are particularly heavy. For women who don't eat much red meat or who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, a multivitamin with iron is suggested.
- Proteins: The Nurses Health Study found that certain proteins were healthier for pregnant women: A serving of red meat, chicken or turkey once a day, increased risk of infertility for one-third of participants. But when the source of protein came from vegetables, nuts and legumes, infertility rates dropped slightly.
- Dairy: Women who ate a half cut of ice cream two or more times a week reduced their infertility levels by nearly 40 percent more than women eating ice cream just once a week.
- The Fertility Diet: Created by Researchers at Harvard’s School of Public Health proposes that women eat a full-fat, lowered carbohydrate, organic diet. It was found that women who did experienced increases in fertility.
What foods may decrease fertility?
- Caffeine: Caffeine consumption should be eliminated or limited to less than 300 mgs a day or about two eight-ounce mugs of coffee. Some experts suggest cutting out caffeine altogether for those having difficulty conceiving or undergoing in vitro fertilization. There is reasonable data to suggest that even 150 mgs of caffeine increases miscarriages rates
- Alcohol: Drink alcohol sparingly
- Listeria: A bacterium that is harmful, particularly to pregnant women. Women trying to conceive should also avoid foods that tend to carry the bacteria because it can cause a miscarriage early in the first trimester. Ready-to-eat meats, soft cheeses, and unpasteurized dairy products can carry Listeria and should be avoided