Foods for IVF - how to increase your chances of success

Emilie's picture

I get asked at least weekly if there are certain foods someone should eat before, during and after IVF. So here is my list of foods and dietary suggestions to optimize your chances of a successful IVF cycle.

Foods To Eatgood food, pregnancy, fertility diet, natural, acupuncture, acubalance healthy eating

  • Avocados. A study put out by the Harvard School of Public health noted that women who consumed the highest amount of monosaturated fat were 3.4 times more likely to have a child after IVF. And of the foods high in monosaturated fats, Avocados have come out on top. Chavarro, the lead author, has also published other studies on ovulatory infertility and the benefits of diets high in monosaturated fat. So, avocados, here we come!
  • Mediterranean diet (if you like that kind of food). In one study, researchers found that there was a 40% increase in positive ART outcomes in people who consumed a Mediterranean diet pre-pregnancy. The key here was less about the fact it was Mediterranean and more about the fact the diet was rich in good fats, vegetables, low mercury types of fish, and legumes. 
  • Warm, easy to digest foods. This is my most basic rule. Avoid foods that are cold and difficult to digest, like raw vegetables, ice cream and frozen smoothies. The Chinese Medicine idea around avoiding cold is that cold and raw foods require more energy and focus by the body to break down and absorb, and that takes away from the body’s ability to focus on reproductive functions. While consuming a smoothie on the day of transfer will not make or break your chances of success, providing an optimal environment, where the body is not redirecting blood and energy away from the uterus and to the digestive system, is ideal. 

Foods To Avoid

  • Coffee. Several studies have drawn a connection between high intake of caffeine (especially coffee) with an increased chance of miscarriage. The suggestion is to limit caffeine to less than 200mg of caffeine a day. In my opinion, while some may be able to ‘get away with’ over 200mg/day, some may see an increase in miscarriages with less 200mg. So, it is best to avoid coffee altogether or to limit it to a weekend treat of one 8-10oz cup.
  • Low-fat dairy. This is a surprising one for most people. Another discovery by Chavarro. Women who consumed two or more servings of low-fat dairy had an 85% higher risk of certain types of infertility than women who ate less than 1 serving a week. Also, women who consumed high-fat dairy were 27% less likely to be infertile. Our suggestion at Acubalance is that if you do not have any dairy sensitivities and feel a great need to consume dairy, we suggest consuming high-fat yoghurt and butter from grass-fed cows. Note: if you do have sensitivities to dairy, you should abstain from consuming it altogether.
  • Foods that you have sensitivities to. This seems pretty straight forward to me. If strawberries give you an itchy throat, or dairy makes you run to the bathroom immediately, you are best to avoid those foods throughout your IVF and well into the first trimester. The key is to avoid foods that create an immune response in your body during the time that you are introducing a foreign entity into it (ie. Your embryo and hopefully, future baby)

Ambiguous Results

  • Pineapple. This is an interesting one that makes its way to every IVF forum and too copious fertility blogs. While bromaline (the active ingredient in the Pineapple core that made it so famous in the IVF forum world) may have a positive effect on implantation, too much may actually have a negative effect, and too little will do nothing. Dosing is an issue, so, I usually tell people not to bother with this one.

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More Evidence-Based Fertility Diet Suggestions

Looking for more evidence-based fertility diet suggestions? Click here.

Bon appétit!

Dr. Emilie Salomons


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