FERTILITY AND NUTRITION
Dr. Maria Arqué is specialized in assisted reproduction and Medical Director of Fertty International clinic. Her vision of medicine, and of fertility, is holistic and integrative; she believes it is essential to take care of patients from a global perspective, in order to guarantee optimal results and the best possible experience. One of her main interests is how our lifestyle and diet affect our global health, and our fertility. She is currently finalizing her doctoral thesis on this subject.
In this post, she answers our questions about fertility and nutrition.
Diet and fertility: doctor, what should we eat to boost our fertility?
This is probably one of the questions that I get asked more often by patients. The impact of diet, dietary supplements, and lifestyle on fertility is a subject of tremendous interest, and often concern, among those who are planning conception or experiencing difficulty in becoming pregnant.
Taking in consideration the economic, psychological and emotional distress that infertility involves, identifying modifiable lifestyle factors, such as diet, that influence human fertility is of major clinical and public health significance.
So, what we eat can have an impact on our fertility. What does this mean if you are trying to get pregnant?
Whether you are trying to become pregnant naturally or undergoing fertility treatment, eating a healthy diet is a good idea for both men and women. Extra folic acid, B12, and omega-3 fatty acids might be helpful for women, and a prenatal vitamin (which includes folic acid and vitamin B12) is already recommended for women trying to get pregnant.
It is also important to bear in mind that the potential beneficial effects of a healthy diet on fertility are limited and cannot overcome all fertility causes (like age, previous surgeries, etc.)
Even though, at the end of the day, experts agree that when it comes to conceiving, giving patient’s the option of proactively contributing to enhance their fertility is meaningful, and lifestyle changes are in our hands.
What would be your recommendations in terms of lifestyle and diet for couples seeking a pregnancy (with or without assisted reproduction treatments)?
Based on the current evidence available, at Fertty international we recommend some strategies that could potentially boost your fertility:
1. Eat fresh vegetables and fruit daily, which should be half of your plate in all your meals. Aim for color and variety, and remember that potatoes don’t count as vegetables!
2. Avoid prepared products and fast foods, which usually contain trans fats.
3. Use unsaturated vegetable oils, such as olive oil.
4. Eat more vegetable protein, like beans and nuts, and less animal protein. Avoid red meat.
5. Choose whole grains and other sources of carbohydrates that have lower, slower effects on blood sugar and insulin rather than highly refined carbohydrates that quickly boost blood sugar and insulin.
6. Take a multivitamin that contains folic acid and other B vitamins.
7. Stay hydrated. Good quality water is the best source of hidration for your body. Avoid sugared sodas.
8. It is ok to drink coffee and tea in moderation.
9. Avoid alcohol, or consume it with moderation. Whereas the evidence to avoid alcohol during pregnancy is very clear and it is already a recommendation for all women who are pregnant, it is not that clear when it comes to fertility. In any case, the recommendation, as for general population and health, is to avoid alcohol, and in the case that you consume it, do it with moderation.
10. Try to maintain a healthy weight. Ideally, your BMI should be between 20 and 25 if you are trying to conceive. If you are overweight and you suffer anovulation, losing between 5% and 10% of your weight can jump-start ovulation.
11. Be active. If you aren’t physically active, start a daily exercise plan. It is recommended to do, at least, 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking or fast dancing. If you already exercise, pick up the pace of your workouts. But avoid overdoing, as too much exercise can have a negative effect on the odds of conception.
12. If you smoke: quit. Smoking has a detrimental effect on both male and female fertility.
Fertty International team is very much concerned about the impact of lifestyle and diet on fertility. This is why we invest a lot of resources in giving our patients proper counselling and care, as well as personalized attention.
Diet and fertility: a review. Audrey J. Gaskins, ScD; Jorge E. Chavarro, MD, ScD. AJOG. APRIL 2018 American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Diet and female fertility: doctor, what should I eat?Yu-Han, MD, ScD, Jorge E. Chavarro MD, ScD and Irene Souter, MD. Fertility ans Sterility. Vol 110 Nº4/September 2018