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You are here: Home > Fertility & Trying to Conceive > Fertility Health

Boost Your Fertility With Diet

by Katlyn Joy | September 2, 2014 1:08 PM
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When you decide to start a family, you want to make sure you've done all you can to get healthy including following a nutritious diet. However, a healthy diet may do more than just add to your overall wellness; it may actually boost your fertility.

"Establishing a healthy eating pattern and weight is a good first step for women who are looking to conceive," said Brooke Schantz, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN of Loyola University Health System.

Schantz continued, ""Not only will a healthy diet and lifestyle potentially help with fertility, but it also may influence fetal well-being and reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy."

Be aware that healthy eating and optimum weight are not just women's issues in fertility; being overweight or obese is a common factor in men with low sperm counts and motility. Males are indicated as the issue in approximately 40 percent of infertility cases.

Weight Issues and Fertility

Being overweight or obese is a common culprit among women with PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome. Making matters worse, women who might be good candidates for assistive reproductive technologies such as IVF, or in vitro fertilization may be rejected as unsuitable candidates due to weight. Extra fat tissue is linked to chronic inflammation which in turn has negative effects on conception. However, even lowering weight by 5 percent can increase fertility.

The Harvard Study and the Fertility Diet

In November, 2007, Obstetrics and Gynecology published a study out of Harvard School of Public Health. For the study, researchers followed over 17,500 nurses who were part of the Nurses Health Study II and concluded that women who changed 5 aspects of their lifestyle in regards to diet and exercise reduced their risk of infertility by 80 percent. From this data, Walter Willett, M.D., a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and Jorge Chavarro, M.D. came up with the plan found in The Fertility Diet, a book published in 2007.

Their recommendations:

Other Tips for Boosting Fertility Through Diet

Limit exposure to pesticides by avoiding the so-called dirty dozen (the foods highest in pesticides): apples, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cherry tomatoes, celery, grapes, hot peppers, cucumbers, peaches, strawberries, potatoes, and spinach.

According to Dr. Willett, of the Harvard Study, the American diet is tied to the rising rate of infertility, "Americans' high consumption of sugary sodas and fruit drinks, starches, red meat and trans fats is a big factor. In terms of fertility, the mediterranean diet has been shown to be effective at helping achieve pregnancy. The sad reality is that even in our study of nurses, fewer than 5 percent of the women had an optimal diet."


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