Why ignore fertility when we have diets for weight loss, PCOS, cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes? Its right that we only frame a set of guidelines, do’s & don’ts, recommendations and foods to avoid instead of chalking down a whole new diet for women trying to conceive. But this has already been done by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health who conducted their research on more than 15,000 women who had no history of infertility but were trying to conceive. This team arrived at the logical conclusion that the quality of your diet, activity levels and smoking habits play a determining role in supporting or delaying fertility. Know what’s recommended in the diet and get complete details of the allowed/to be avoided foods by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com. Assisted reproductive technology (ART), using IVF or IUI methods for conception or surrogacy is not the solution when you are unable to conceive. Rather than spending money on medicinal treatments and procedures isn’t it worthy to spend your time and effort on changing your lifestyle and making a few alterations to successfully conceive naturally? Fertility diets do help couples conceive naturally many-a-time and this is the expert opinion of many.
A Toast to Fertility
A few registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) feel that the fertility diet proposed by the Harvard researchers is a great option for women with PCOS and also helps women increase their intake of all the nutrients that are advantageous for conceiving. There has also been research evidence showing a positive link between fertility diet and decrease in infertility risk in some women. This brings us to yet another important phase of fertility-is it really the diet or the resulting weight loss due to compliance with the diet that improves the chances of conception in women?
Obesity/overweight issues have always been major contributors for infertility as your excess weight affects egg quality and also a series of hormonal imbalances in the body-as in insulin levels, testosterone and FSH and TSH. FSH & TSH play important roles in ovulation and when you are stuck with excess body weight these hormones go for a roller coaster ride and fall off the alignment leading to serious consequences with your ability to reproduce. Achieving weight loss and reaching normal weight helps in ovulation. Losing even 10% of your body weight improves insulin sensitivity and also triggers ovulation in women suffering from PCOS.
But what about those women who are of normal weight but still face problems with ovulation due to insulin resistance? In such cases what these ladies eat becomes the core concern. Quality of the diet matters more. Maybe they can opt for eating less of processed carbs, more of whole grains such as quinoa and opt for whole-wheat varieties instead of others. For instance, whole-wheat bread instead of white bread or whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta. This decreases insulin production and rise in blood sugar levels which are great for fertility. Here also, according to the Harvard researchers’ fertility diet they recommend eating full-fat dairy due to the presence of certain hormones in dairy that promote conception. But we need to take care that the quantity doesn’t go overboard when weight is a concern and weight loss is prescribed for the woman trying to conceive.
Its not only the Fertility diet proposed by these researchers that help women conceive but studies propose quite a few other diets too. For instance, the Mediterranean diet helps in elevating the chances of pregnancy and delivery of a healthy baby when women undergo in vitro fertilization. So, you might choose ART methods for conception but still a healthy diet plays the primary role in helping you conceive successfully and deliver a healthy baby.
But all these diets have a few things in common-they are all rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and legumes.
There was a diet plan devised by the same set of Harvard researchers: a pro-fertility diet plan rich in vitamin D, vitamin B12, folic acid, dairy, soy and reduced-pesticide fruits and vegetables. This diet plan offered better outcomes in people undergoing ART methods compared to the Mediterranean plan. But again, the pro-fertility diet’s results were completely based on the woman-how keen is she to follow it?
But if you ask bluntly if eating a particular diet can redeem you from infertility completely there is not a decisive answer here. If you are in your 20s and planning for a kid but not ovulating it is always better to try these diets before jumping into IVF or other methods. But if you are above 40 you cannot wait indefinitely. Maybe give a year or so, try a diet plan and when things don’t work as planned decide onto something else. Remember, the fertility diet mainly focuses on women who have problems conceiving due to ovulation and has not got to do anything with the fallopian tubes.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.