Nutrition and Fertility

Some Things to Consider about Nutrition and Your Fertility

fertility foods

How does nutrition affect conception?

A woman’s intake should help prepare her body for conception. A good prenatal supplement with high doses of folate and Vitamin B12 is essential. A woman should start thinking about what to buy, cook and eat as well as the amounts to consume even as much as 3 months before conception, to balance out her own deficiencies or excesses. The Nurses study followed over 17,000 women over 8 years, identified a combination of five lifestyle factors in two-thirds (69%) of women with ovulatory disorder fertility. These include diet, weight control and exercise and reported many infertility cases may be preventable through diet and lifestyle changes.

How can you tell if you have nutritional deficiencies?

In our modern lives “sub-clinical” deficiencies which are not picked up by regular tests give subtle symptoms. A symptom can range

from dry hair to brittle nails. One deficiency may seem more severe than the other and could be related or unrelated. For instance deficiency in Essential Fatty Acids can produce some of the same symptoms as a deficiency in Biotin that can also be correlated to Premenstrual Syndrome or Infertility. An imbalance in the intake of different fatty acids can result in arterial disease. Zinc deficiency can manifest through hair loss, it can also be a cause of Male Infertility.

Why does nutrient balance matter in pregnancy outcome?

Eating correctly during pregnancy lowers the baby’s risk of illnesses in later adult life because of good nourishment in the womb. For the mother, it provides nourishment without excess weight gain which could cause gestational diabetes or contribute to high blood pressure. Following a few simple rules can help: eating a healthy variety of fresh whole foods (organic whenever possible), checking and correcting your nutritional status, adopting a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, being screened for infections, avoiding environmental hazards and timing your fertility investigations.

How important is body weight?

Even in normal weight women with sub-clinical bulimia nervosa there is hormonal dysfunction from imbalanced nutrition (pathologically low FSH and LH levels). Irrespective of the method of conception, Obese and underweight women have an increased risk of miscarriage. A review of 16 studies reported that women with a body mass index of 25 or more had significantly higher odds of miscarriage, regardless of the method of conception. Just losing 10% body weight improves rates of fertility. With actual obesity, the miscarriage risk is even higher. A study of over 5000 IVF patients in Australia found that women with a body mass index over 30 had a 50 per cent greater chance of miscarrying than women of normal weight.

What else may influence fertility?

Untreated Celiac disease, has been linked to infertility. Excess abdominal fat even with normal body weight may contribute to infertility. PCOS, often undiagnosed, affects fertility. For men, sperm quality is linked to diabetes.

Anything to avoid besides (caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, high mercury fishes…etc.)?

We need to be weary of crash diets which can cause a malfunction of the hypothalamus, resulting in reduced secretion of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which can cause disruption or cessation of the follicle stimulating hormone needed for egg stimulation. Quinine, the key ingredient in tonic water, has been linked to birth defects. Aspartame stimulates the pituitary gland, possibly causing elevated Prolactin levels, which can prevent ovulation from occurring.

Are there foods that promote fertility?

There is no one food or method that will magically do the trick. It is the balance of the “synergistic whole” of everything, not just what we consume or do at a meal or for a week that affects our long-term health, hormone balance and fertility. You can be transform your body through consistent good habits and healthy appreciation of your challenges. Each of us responds differently to nutrients and lifestyle factors depending on our genetic make-up. For some woman, wild yams which contain “plant estrogen” produce estrogenic effects that have been shown to be valuable in relieving female problems

Is sperm quality tied in with nutrition and lifestyle?

Zinc and B vitamins (B6, B12 and Folate) are essential nutrients for proper sperm production and generation of motility. A deficiency may result in lowered testosterone levels. The usual recommended dosage of zinc is about 15 to 30 mg daily, coupled with 1 mg of copper for balance. Diets rich in anti-oxidants improve sperm quality. Men who smoke, drink excess alcohol or do drugs will have poor sperm quality. Being obese is also linked to poorer sperm quality.

What role does lifestyle play in a successful pregnancy?

“Letting go” was positively associated with pregnancy in a study of 88 women undergoing IVF. Our “nourishment” includes our experiences and stress levels. Organ function can be affected in different ways in regards to our emotions relating to those experiences. For example, stress can cause constipation which in turn affects nutrient absorption and our mood. Other people can help us to see things we do not readily see. Therefore, advice should be sought within areas of our lives that need attention as potential parents.