Can diet really help you to conceive? That’s one of the questions we will be addressing at our Holistic Approach to Fertility event on 8th June at our Wickford clinic. Angela Attwood of Love Nutrition will be available to give advice.
Researchers Drs. Jorge Chavarro and Walter Willett, both of the Harvard School of Public Health, have been investigating the best fertility diet to help conception. They have a number of recommendations based on extensive data analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study, one of the largest and longest-running studies of women’s health in America.
They found that women trying to become pregnant naturally (without “assistive reproductive technologies” such as IVF), the following vitamins and nutrients were linked to positive effects on fertility:
- folic acid
- vitamin B12
- omega-3 fatty acids
- healthy diets (such as the Mediterranean diet)
However, in this review, antioxidants, vitamin D, dairy products, soy, caffeine, and alcohol appeared to have little or no effect on fertility.
The big baddies were found to be Trans fat and “unhealthy diets” (those “rich in red and processed meats, potatoes, sweets, and sweetened beverages”) as these were found to have negative effects.
Studies of men had a similar pattern, showing that semen quality also improves with healthy diets (as described above), and declines with diets high in saturated or trans fat. Alcohol and caffeine appeared to have little effect, good or bad.
Importantly, semen quality is not a perfect predictor of fertility, and most studies did not actually examine the impact of paternal diet on the rate of successful pregnancies.
For couples receiving assisted reproductive technologies, women may be more likely to conceive with folic acid supplements or a diet high in isoflavones (plant-based estrogens with antioxidant activity), while male fertility may be aided by antioxidants.
Three other recently published studies also indicate the benefits of a healthy diet:
- Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (especially sodas or energy drinks) was linked to lower fertility for men and women, while drinking diet soda and fruit juice had no effect.
- Women who consumed high amounts of fast food and little fruit took longer to become pregnant than those with healthier diets.
- Couples eating more seafood were pregnant sooner than those rarely eating seafood. Most pregnant women consume far less than the recommended 2 to 3 servings of lower-mercury fish (such as salmon, scallops, and shrimp) per week.
Angela Attwood from Love Nutrition will be at the Holistic Approach to Fertility event on Saturday 8 June
Angela is looking forward to talking to people at the Holistic Approach to Fertility Event.
Angela comments: “As a Nutritional Therapist I consider you to be unique and therefore recommend a personalised nutrition and lifestyle programme that is right for you rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
“Having nutrition and lifestyle advice that is right for you can help you feel empowered as you are positively contributing to your fertility.
There are a number of nutrients with unequivocal evidence behind them for egg and sperm health, which I can advise you on the best way to incorporate into your diet via food or supplements; helping you to understand how the systems in your body are all interlinked and can have a significant impact on your fertility.”
Coping with stress
Angela comments that “one of the most common areas to impact on fertility is stress.
We are all familiar with how our lifestyle and emotions can impact on our stress levels, however, what we eat and drink and even the type of exercise we do can all affect our stress levels and ultimately our hormonal health.
You may accept difficulty getting up in the morning, not feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep, feeling low, gaining weight around your middle, not being able to concentrate or focus, digestive issues, period problems, a coffee or sugar habit, muscle and joint aches and pains or a myriad of other little quirks in your health as being part of life.
To me, as a nutritional therapist, they are part of a picture that builds a unique profile of you and helps me to understand how your health maybe impacting on what you want from life, including your fertility health.”
The Bourn Hall package
The package available to Bourn Hall patients includes:
- initial consultation of 60-90 minutes when we will explore your health and fertility concerns as well as your medical and family history, medication and supplement use, diet and lifestyle
- Evaluate your individual needs to develop a personalised, safe and effective nutrition and lifestyle programme.
- Followed up with another 45 minute consultation 2-4 weeks later, and schedule in a 20 minute telephone catch up to suit you too.
Other programmes are available depending on your situation and needs.
Diet and fertility: a review. Gaskins AJ1, Chavarro JE2 Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Apr;218(4):379-389. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2017.08.010. Epub 2017 Aug 24.
Intake of Sugar-sweetened Beverages and Fecundability in a North American Preconception Cohort Hatch, Elizabeth et al Epidemiology: May 2018 – Volume 29 – Issue 3 – p 369–378
Pre-pregnancy fast food and fruit intake is associated with time to pregnancy Jessica A Grieger et al Human Reproduction, Volume 33, Issue 6, June 2018, Pages 1063–1070
Seafood Intake, Sexual Activity, and Time to Pregnancy Audrey J Gaskins et al R The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 103, Issue 7, July 2018, Pages 2680–2688,
Angela will be at Bourn Hall Wickford for the Holistic Approach to Fertility event on 8 June. She says, “I am really looking forward to working with you to enhance your nutritional health and support you on your fertility journey.”
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