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What Is the Fertility Diet?

What Is the Fertility Diet?

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    Up to 15% of reproductive-age couples globally have a difficult time conceiving a child. The fertility diet aims to increase ovulation and raise the chances of getting pregnant.

    Dietary choices, alongside other lifestyle changes, become more critical to maximize the chances of having a happy, healthy baby.

    While age and genetics are factors you can not change, a healthy diet can impact your fertility. This diet offers research-backed changes that may increase fertility, particularly for women with ovulation disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, fibroids, and immune system disorders.  

    What Is the Fertility Diet?

    The Fertility Diet is the result of the Nurses’ Health Study research that studied 238,000 nurses aged 30 to 55. It identified that females consuming healthy fats, plant protein, and unrefined carbohydrates (for example, whole grain bread) had increased chances of pregnancy.

    While diet alone will not produce these effects, nutrition can substantially impact the body and fertility. It’s not a weight loss diet, but the fertility diet does recommend that overweight women having trouble conceiving could raise their odds through limited weight loss.

    Certain foods can also influence males’ fertility.

    While the focus is generally on females, it is crucial to consider that up to 50% of instances of infertility stem solely from males. A man with an overweight or obese body generally has a low sperm count and poor sperm motility compared to men at a healthy weight. Decreased consumption of processed meats, increased fish consumption (with omega-3 fatty acids), and regular exercise is recommended for males to boost their fertility.

    How Fertility Diet Works

    Guidelines

    Women are born with a set number of eggs that decrease over time. While this can’t be altered, the quality of the eggs can — by providing a nutrient-rich environment for them.

    There are a variety of changes you can make to increase your fertility. Firstly, the study identified that women with the highest consumption of foods with a high glycemic load (i.e., result in a significant increase in blood glucose following consumption) were more likely to be infertile than women with lower consumption. This is because rapid increases in insulin levels in response to a meal negatively impact ovarian function.

    Consequently, the first recommendation is to opt for unrefined carbohydrates, which have a low glycemic load. These include beans, vegetables, whole grain pasta, and brown rice. More recent research has also found that females on low carbohydrate diets increased reproductive hormones, menstrual cyclicity, and ovulation rates.

    Their second finding was that women who obtained their protein from the plant rather than animal sources (like red meat) were less likely to have ovulatory infertility. These plant proteins boost fertility through their high content of vitamins and minerals. These include folate and non-heme iron, only found in plant-based foods. Folate/folic acid is critical for your baby’s health once you become pregnant.

    Thirdly, whole milk and full dairy foods are the way to go. Surprisingly, one serving of either resulted in a lowered risk of infertility. They noted that only one serving is necessary and additional servings would not add extra benefits. These are great to keep up B12 intake, as low B12 stores have been correlated with infertility.

    Trans fats are something you want to avoid—one study identified that a 2% increase in trans fat intake, rather than from carbohydrates, resulted in a 73% increase in infertility. Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fatty acid commonly found in shortening, fried foods, and commercially baked foods.

    Tea, coffee, and alcohol are to be consumed in moderation.

    Foods rich in antioxidants are recommended due to their ability to protect eggs from damage and oxidative stress. Good sources of these include berries, dark leafy greens, and apples.  

    Exercise is recommended while on the fertility diet, which increases your chances of pregnancy, but it’s also a great way to socialize and boost your mental health. Light to moderate exercise has been found to boost fertility, while heavy exercise (more than 60 minutes) has conflicting results.

    The Diet Plan

    The diet encourages the consumption of lots of plant protein, beans, and nuts.

    Whole grains are encouraged rather than processed carbohydrates to avoid spikes in blood sugar. Berries, citrus fruits, and bananas are great additions to your shopping list.

    It’s also recommended that you add a multivitamin to your daily routine with folic acid and B vitamins, as these are critical for your baby’s health once you become pregnant.

    They also state that you should aim for 2,000 calories per day for weight maintenance. However, this number can be reduced if you also want to lose weight while on the diet.

    Cost

    Some great news regarding this diet is that you shouldn’t expect to see significant changes in your grocery bill. You can find The Fertility Diet book online for $15, which outlines the key findings from their research alongside meal plans and recipes to help get you started.

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    Sample Diet Plan

    Breakfast: High fiber muesli and a glass of milk

    Snack: Banana

    Lunch: Bean salad

    Dinner: Fish tacos with salsa

    Dessert: Ice cream

    Health Benefits and Drawbacks

    Benefits

    Benefits of the fertility diet include:

    Drawbacks

    Only designed for women. The focus of the study behind this diet was only on females; however, males can make changes to their diets to increase their fertility, too, as more recent research has demonstrated.

    Increased consumption of full-fat dairy products. While consuming these short-term may boost fertility, these may hinder overall health long-term.

    Inconsistent study results. Some findings have been inconsistent, and this is not a be-all, end-all approach.

    The Bottom Line: Is Fertility Diet a Healthy Way to Lose Weight?

    Overall, we think that your diet should be improved alongside various other factors to increase fertility and optimize pregnancy. This diet won’t necessarily get you pregnant, but it can boost your chances while encouraging you to make healthy dietary choices.

    Disclaimer: The information on this website is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.
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