It is important to be aware of the role of diet and infertility. Remember, ‘you are what you eat’! A healthy diet is crucial to a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby. Diet and proper nutrition can also help assist to correct hormone imbalances that may affect your ability to conceive.
Fertility Diet Mantras
- “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”.
- “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wounldn’t recognise as food’.
- “Don’t eat anything incapable of rotting”– Michael Pollan, In Defence of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto
Diet and infertility guidelines
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, preferably organic.
- Eat complex carbohydrates – wholegrains like brown rice, oats and wholemeal bread.
- Have adequate protein with every meal, or at least four times daily. Protein is essential for egg and sperm development and maturation.
- Buy organic foods whenever possible – especially eggs, dairy and chicken.
- Eat phytoestrogens, including beans such as lentils and chickpeas.
- Eat oily foods, including fish (free of mercury), nuts, seeds and oils.
- Reduce your intake of saturated fat which disturb hormone and nutrient balance.
- Drink two litres of filtered water daily.
- Increase your intake of fibre, including ground linseeds for hormone health.
- Avoid additives, preservatives and chemicals such as artificial sweeteners.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Alcohol will affect both you and your partner. In fact, drinking any alcohol at all can reduce your fertility by half – and the more you drink, the less likely you are to conceive. One study showed that women who drank less than five units of alcohol a week (equal to five glasses of wine) were twice as likely to get pregnant within six-months compared to those who drank more. Research has also shown that drinking alcohol causes a decrease in sperm count, an increase in abnormal sperm and a lower proportion of motile sperm. Alcohol also inhibits the body’s absorption of nutrients such as zinc, which is one of the most important minerals for male fertility. Ideally, you should eliminate alcohol from your diets for at least three months before you start trying to conceive. Remember to think of your long-term goal here – a healthy baby. More information can be found in my book The Holistic IVF Diet Guide to Making Babies.
Caffeine consumption is an important factor in regards to diet and infertility. Drinking as little as one cup of coffee a day can halve your chances of conceiving. It’s important to eliminate all caffeine-containing food and drinks for at least three months before trying to conceive. More information can be found in my book The Holistic IVF Diet Guide to Making Babies.
There are strong links between smoking and infertility in women. It can even bring on an early menopause, which is a particularly important consideration for older women who may be trying to beat the clock. Smoking can decrease sperm count in men, making the sperm more sluggish, and it can increase the number of abnormal sperm. The effects on male fertility are increased with the number of cigarettes.
Other diet and infertility tips
- If you can’t buy organic fruit and vegetables, wash them in a veggie wash or with vinegar to remove any pesticide residue.
- Do not overcook. Do not use microwave ovens for cooking or defrosting. Apart from radiation exposure, microwaves denature proteins.
- Cook with minimal amount of sesame oil, organic butter or coconut oil. These are mono-unsaturated fates and will not saturate on heating. Store these oils out of light (in dark containers), in the fridge (except olive oil, which is fine at room temperature).
- Eat seasonally. Look at what is in season and stick to eating those fruits and vegetables.
- Eat locally grown products. Think about where you food is coming from.
My popular book, The Holistic IVF Diet Guide to Making Babies provides essential information on preconceptual care, the best diet, nutritional medicine and support physically, mentally, emotionally during your fertility and IVF journey. This book will teach you how you can support yourself and your partner to maximise your chances of success – providing a combination of my professional knowledge and personal experience.
While there is advice out there from various sources, this book offer so much more – providing you the information you need to ensure you and your partner are as healthy as possible in the quest to have a happy, healthy baby. If you want to learn how best to improve egg quality, sperm health and to maximise your chances of IVF success, this book is for you!