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Over the past five years, Oova has helped countless women take control of their fertility.
Research has revealed that there could be a significant link. Here’s what to eat to boost your fertility.
How does the food you eat impact fertility? Well, up until about 10 years ago, we didn’t have many answers. Since then, research has revealed that there could be a significant link. Here’s what to eat to boost your fertility.
Are there really fertility super foods? Can what we eat really affect our ability to conceive? While your diet might not be the single factor contributing to infertility, what you eat can impact your fertility, and luckily, there are certain foods that can help you boost yours. Registered dietitian and wellness expert Tamsin Jordan shares how food and fertility are linked and makes fertility diet suggestions.
The link Foods that may boost fertility Foods to avoid Fertility diet sample menu
According to the World Economic Forum, fertility rates are at an all-time low. While delayed pregnancy partially explains these figures, our lifestyle coupled with a poor diet can also contribute.
So, how are fertility and diet linked? There are a few ways:
The connection between body fat and fertility has been a focus of much fertility research.
Some studies have shown that obese women (that is those with a BMI >30), are more likely to have ovulatory dysfunction and poorer outcomes with IVF. While the biological mechanisms underlying this remain unclear, higher levels of inflammation and altered hormone levels could play a role.
Patients with very low BMIs (<20) are also at an increased risk for reduced fertility. Having too little body fat can also be detrimental to fertility and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Maintaining a BMI of 20-24 has consistently been shown to promote increased pregnancy rates and healthy pregnancy outcomes.
So what should we eat for fertility diet? The fertility and nutrition field is still relatively new, however, a few foods have stood out in clinical trials.
One of the most well-researched nutrients in the reproductive world is folic acid, or vitamin B9. Folic acid has been proven to help reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTD) in fetuses, and there is evidence it may boost fertility too.
Research shows that women undergoing ART can also benefit by taking folic acid at doses higher than for the prevention of NTD, around 800 μg/day. Similarly, another study showed lower risk of ovulatory infertility when consuming folic acid.
>>RELATED: Fueling Your Body for Fertility: 9 Essential Vitamins and Nutrients
Aside from taking a prenatal supplement, eating more leafy green veggies can boost your intake. Aim for two to three servings per day, such as spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, or collard greens. Increasing your intake with real food has added benefits including better absorption and fiber. Try to eat your greens raw or steamed and wash thoroughly to remove pesticides.
Eating more fish, especially fatty fish, may help support fertility in men and women. The anti-inflammatory action of omega 3 fatty acids is linked to improved egg quality, maturation and embryo implantation.
Results from the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) Study also found that men who consistently ate foods containing omega 3 fatty acids had a higher number of healthy sperm.
Rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids include salmon, sardines, herring, and freshwater trout. As with pregnancy, high mercury fish should be avoided such as swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark.
Not a fan of fish? You can also get a good serving of omega 3's from a daily sprinkling of walnuts and chia seeds. In contrast, trans fats (those found mostly in highly processed, sugar-laden foods) are associated with impaired fertility.
Eating a diet rich in whole grains provides a range of health benefits, including supporting improved fertility. Aside from vitamin and minerals, wholegrains contain lignin. This plant-based compound has a similar structure to the hormones involved in reproduction.
One study found that women that consumed a diet high in lignin had a shorter time to pregnancy. Another study showed that women undergoing ART who consumed high quantities of whole grains had a higher number of live births compared to women who consumed smaller amounts. Other lignin-rich foods include flaxseeds, sesame seeds, beans, berries, and nuts.
Choose unrefined, fibrous whole grains such as brown rice, buckwheat, oatmeal and farro. The fiber helps to slow down breakdown and digestion, releasing glucose into the bloodstream slowly. This action is particularly helpful for women with PCOS and diabetes who can struggle to maintain healthy blood glucose control.
One prominent fertility study found that consuming high-fat dairy foods, such as whole milk, decreased the risk of infertility linked to a lack of ovulation. In contrast, consuming low-fat dairy products, such as yogurt and sherbet/frozen yogurt, around 2 servings per day, increased the risk of infertility.
Dairy has vitamin D, which has shown to support fertilization. In one study, women undergoing IVF who had normal Vitamin D levels had pregnancy rates 4-fold higher than those who were deficient in the nutrient.
I recommend one to two servings of full-fat, low added sugar dairy per day. Good choices include plain whole fat milk, full fat greek yogurt, kefir and cheese.
Know that you know what foods to include in your fertility diet, what are some of the ones you should avoid?
Want to include some ‘fertility’ foods in your diet? Give this sample menu a try!
While your diet likely won’t make or break your ability to conceive, it can be an important part of your fertility journey, and eating the right fertility diet can help boost your chances of conceiving and a healthy pregnancy. If you’re interested in trying to eat a fertility diet, start by incorporating more fertility-friendly foods in your diet, and decreasing the number of foods that can negatively impact fertility.
Tamsin Jordan is a registered dietitian, wellness expert, and mom living in NYC.
Jordan provides one to one nutritional counseling to people of all ages, with a specialty in women’s health, bariatrics, diabetes and digestive health. She writes about nutrition and wellness topics on her blog. you can also find her on Instagram: @nutritionbytamsin.
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