For the majority of my patients' diet plays a big role in their success. What we eat on a day to day basis plays a massive role in our overall health. The old saying "we are what we eat" is one that I do believe. If we eat food low in nutrients, high in calories and toxins then our body isn't able to perform as it wants. If we are eating foods that support our bodies needs it will be able to function optimally. Our body needs more than calories and research supports how the quality of food is imperative to our health.
Recent data looking at fertilty has shown a correlation with what we are eating and the time it takes to achieve a pregnancy. The numbers are strong that women who eat healthier will get pregnant in less time than those who don't eat well. This study
looked at 3 different areas of our diet. Fast food intake, fruit intake, and green leafy vegetables with fish.
The data collected showed that women who did not eat fast food had a 41% reduced risk to experience infertility. That was based off of women who ate fast food 4 or more times per week. Fast food is high in calories and low in nutrients. It's generally a highly refined food meal which will not support the day to day functions needed to obtain both optimal health and hormone function for fertility. So if you are eating fast food and want to boost your chances of conceiving by over 40% stop switch to more home-cooked whole food meals!
The second aspect of the study was for fruit intake. Women who ate fruit only 3x per month had a 29% increased risk of infertility versus those women who had fruit 3-4x per day. This correlates well with the poor nutritional value of fast food. The massive benefits of fruit is likely due to the protective antioxidants which are richly found in these types of whole foods.
The third and last aspect of the study was for women eating deep leafy greens with fish. This study didn't find detriment or improvement with woman having these foods in their diet. Unfortunately, this study did not look at overall vegetable intake in their diet. If the study did look at the overall vegetable intake and not just deep leafy greens and fish it may have shown a similar fertility benefit as the others.
Research has shown a whole food diet does improve fertility. The consumption of a Mediterranean diet which is high in vegetables has shown an improvement with IVF pregnancies
. The Mediterranean diet generally emphasizes a plant-based diet with small amounts of animal protein. There is a large amount of both fruits and vegetables, some whole grains, legumes and nuts, and seeds. Good fats such as olive oil are also found in relatively large amounts.
Diet modifications definitely deliver a boost to all couples who are trying to conceive. Even small modifications to how and what we are eating helps our fertility. Although diet can be a complex subject try to keep it simple. The easiest place to start is to eat more fruit and vegetables, drink more water and eat less fast food. Even these three small changes can make a huge difference.
Best of Health
Dr. Ryan Funk
Doctor of Chinese Medicine
Fellow of the ABORM