Being overweight can reduce your chances of getting pregnant. Angela Attwood, a Nutritional Therapist specialising in nutrition for hormonal health, fertility and pregnancy, is often asked about how to reduce body mass index (BMI) to help people conceive.
Angela runs complimentary nutrition sessions on a monthly basis at Bourn Hall’s Wickford clinic aimed at encouraging people to look at how and what they are eating might be affecting their fertility. In this blog she answers some of the frequently asked questions about nutrition and fertility.
I have been advised to reduce my BMI to improve my natural fertility. Can you offer a few tips that seem to work for the people you speak to?
As a general rule the most effective way of reducing BMI is to ensure that you have a healthy intake of protein and whole unprocessed foods that are high in fibre and healthy fats.
These foods will help to balance blood sugar, so reduce the amount of insulin required which leads to unused calories being stored as fat if they are not used for energy. It also helps to reduce cravings for higher calorie foods.
Some other tips are:
- Reducing intake at meal times by using a smaller plate is an easy way to reduce calorie intake without feeling deprived.
- Ensuring a 12 hour overnight fast and allowing 4-5 hours between meals is also a great way to reduce calorie intake.
- Keeping well hydrated can also really help to reduce cravings as well as having many other health benefits.
- Exercise is also key to reducing BMI and doesn’t have to be high impact – walking is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise you can do.
These tips also have the added health benefits of improving sleep and digestive system health, and reducing stress and anxiety, which may improve hormone balance, all really useful benefits for someone preparing for IVF.
However our relationship with food is complex, and often there are lots of emotional issues associated with weight, so as a Nutritional Therapist I also take the individual into consideration and work with them to reduce their BMI in a way that is going to work for them.
Is there any evidence that good nutrition boosts sperm quality?
Most research on sperm quality focuses on individual nutrients, of which many, such as zinc, vitamin D and vitamin E, amongst others, have been suggested as important in improving sperm quality.
Can people get the vitamins and minerals they need from their diet and when do you think nutritional supplement have their place?
Nutrition has a lot to offer any couple encountering fertility issues, whether it is to address any underlying health issues or to ensure you have covered off every aspect of your health that is under your control to give yourself the best chance of conceiving naturally or via IVF. Dietary changes can have a huge impact and often people have an imbalance in their macronutrient intake (good fats, carbohydrates, protein and water) which really affects their health, and these have to be included in our diet.
Nutritional supplements have their place – for instance if a patient has a vitamin D deficiency. Antioxidants as supplements may be indicated in men with sperm DNA damage and omega 3 fatty acids also have a significant role in fertility as well as general health since we have to get them from the diet and many individuals do not eat oily fish or sufficient oily fish. It really isn’t one size fits all, but about individual nutritional needs, and this will be affected by people’s lifestyle, any medication they may be on and any hormonal or health issues they have such as endometriosis, PCOS or digestive issues.
To book a session with Angela at Bourn Hall Wickford please use the form below email us [email protected]