Written by Caroline Farrell - A study conducted by the University of Surrey showed that couples with a previous history of infertility who made changes in their lifestyle, diet and took nutritional supplements had an 80% percent success rate of conception. This is no surprise given that the maturing egg, sperm, endometrium and foetus all depend upon key nutrients for development. It is important to follow a nutritional therapy programme for three months before trying to conceive. This is because it takes approximately three months for the follicles on your ovaries to develop before one is mature enough to release an egg at ovulation. This is especially important if you are having IVF due to the increased demands on your body.
Make Sure You Eat Regularly
Eating regularly maintains steady blood sugar levels. When our blood sugar levels fall we produce stress hormones. Stress hormones have a negative effect on reproductive hormones. Try to eat a couple of snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Good snacks or foods for fertility include a Nak’d bar with a small handful of nuts and seeds or a couple of oatcakes with nut butter such as almond butter or cashew nut butter. This is because nuts are a good source of zinc which is needed for hormone synthesis, egg and sperm development, and for development of the embryo.
Eat A Rainbow Every Day
Fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants which improve egg quality. Consumption should be continued in pregnancy as a high consumption reduces miscarriage risk by 46%. Green vegetables should be included each day as they contain high levels of folic acid, essential for egg quality, implantation, and the prevention of neural tube defects in the foetus after conception.
Include Protein With Every Meal
IVF studies have shown that women consuming a low protein diet produce fewer follicles and eggs, a fertility diet should contain plenty of protein as it’s needed for good ovulatory function. It is especially important during IVF due to the fact that the ovaries are producing several eggs. Good options include tofu, beans, lentils and chickpeas.
Reduce Your Intake Of Alcohol
Alcohol can delay conception and result in chromosome damage. It also decreases sperm count, increases abnormal sperm and lowers the proportion of motile sperm. Reducing alcohol when undergoing IVF is extremely important as just 2-3 glasses of wine per week has been shown to reduce IVF success rate by as much as 24%.
Caffeine has been found to delay conception in fertile women and can contribute to sperm abnormality in men. Replace caffeinated drinks with herbal teas such a camomile or Rooibos.
Reduce Your Intake Of Synthetic Chemicals
Synthetic chemicals found in everyday life, from shampoos, cosmetics and household cleaning products to pesticides, plastics, food wrappings, tin-can linings and heavy metals are known as hormone disruptors because their molecular shape is very similar to that of oestrogen. To reduce your exposure to these chemicals make sure you drink unfiltered water, limit tinned foods, avoid wrapping or cooking food in plastic containers and opt for organic when buying the foods with the highest levels of pesticides. See www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary for a list of the foods with the highest levels of pesticides.
This article was written by our nutritionist Caroline Farrell.