Many of our patients are surprised to learn that your diet and lifestyle can significantly affect your chances of conceiving. Some patients are even able to bypass treatments with simple dietary changes that ultimately lead to successful pregnancies.
Based on the latest studies, we know that lifestyle choices directly affect fertility and the outcome of a pregnancy. IVFMD’s team of experts has developed a comprehensive fertility lifestyles roadmap that helps patients learn about:
Foods you should eat and those you must avoid
Vitamins and minerals to supplement your diet
How much and how often you should exercise
Proper ways to manage lifestyle-affecting factors such as stress, sleep patterns and your daily schedule
While designed for improving fertility outcomes, our nutritional lifestyles programs enhance overall health and help patients live fuller lives, often making them less dependent on drugs and medical procedures. And we think your child deserves growing up with a healthy parent.
The Nurses Health Study, which involved more than 18,000 married women, found that sugary and refined carbohydrates such as cold cereals, white rice and potatoes were linked to a higher risk of infertility due to poor ovulation. Slow carbs like brown rice and whole wheat bread were linked to getting pregnant faster. [European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009]
What is the difference between good and bad fats?
According to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, those trying to get pregnant should avoid or limit saturated fat intake – often found in red meat, fried food and cheese – as they have been linked to lower sperm concentration, fewer mature eggs, and fewer embryos to choose from for fresh transfers. Trans fats found in chips, cookies and processed foods have also been linked to ovulatory infertility and miscarriage.
Good fats to include in your diet are unsaturated fats, including polyunsaturated fats, such as salmon, seeds, nuts and avocados. All of these can improve embryo quality.
Avocados in particular are lauded for their ability to reduce hunger, according to a study in Nutrition Journal, which showed that subjects who incorporate avocado at lunch decreased their appetite by 40%. Amino acids in avocados also can improve metabolism due to its amino acid L-Carnitine, which can help burn body fat.
What diet should I follow when undergoing IVF treatments?
IVF patients should eat nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes and lean protein, and avoid high-fat and sugary foods. For more details, please click here.
How can Body Mass Index (BMI) affect fertility?
A systematic review, in which more than 47,000 treatment cycles were included, the authors concluded that “raised BMI (>25) is associated with adverse pregnancy outcome in women undergoing IVF / ICSI treatment, including lower live birth rates. This effect is present in overweight (BMI>25) and obese women (BMI>30).” [Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 2011]
For women with BMI (>25), increasing your beta-carotene intake can improve your chances of getting pregnant faster, but taking steps to reduce your BMI should also be a focus for women looking to get pregnant. [Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, 2014]
How can I improve my chances of getting pregnant through exercise?
Dieting alone often causes metabolic changes that can lower your calorie-burning metabolism by as much as 15%, which is why it is recommended to combine diet and exercise for the best results.
Exercise slows the appetite-inducing hormone ghrelin and keeps your metabolism running at higher speeds. The highest pregnancy rates, according to the Fertility and Sterility Journal, are seen in women who engage in regular, moderate exercise, regardless of BMI. However, it is important that you do not over-exercise, as this may have adverse effects on fertility.
A University of South Carolina study also showed that people who use energy-monitoring technologies, like armbands, to help them lose weight dropped triple the amount than those not using monitors.
Should I be taking vitamins if I’m trying to get pregnant?
Women under age 35 benefit from more vitamin C and beta-carotene, and women age 35 and older benefit from vitamin E. For women with BMI (>25), increasing your beta-carotene intake can improve your chances of getting pregnant faster, but taking steps to reduce your BMI should also be a focus for women looking to get pregnant. [Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, 2014]
For men, The Unit of Reproductive Endocrinology at Aristotle University in Greece recently reviewed 30 years of research involving vitamin D and reproduction. They found evidence for “a favorable effect of vitamin D supplementation on semen quality, testosterone concentrations and fertility outcomes.”
How can sleep affect fertility?
Lack of sleep disrupts two hormones that control appetite and satiety: ghrelin and leptin. These disruptions case people to select greater portion sizes of energy-dense foods and snacks (high in sugar and fat), says a study in Psychoneuroendocrinology, which can increase BMI and make getting pregnant more difficult.
Sixty IVF patients with sleep disturbances who received lifestyles counseling treatment, including melatonin supplements to help improve sleep quality, increased their mean number of retrieved eggs. [Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, 2012]
How can stress affect fertility?
A recent study found that stress in young, healthy adults (age 25-50) lowers DHEA-S levels, a precursor of sex hormones, by 23%. [IDEA Fitness Journal, 2014].
And, laughter is also shown to improve overall health and fertility! A good laugh can lower blood pressure, stress and even glucose response after eating high-carb foods, and women undergoing IVF treatments who were exposed to humor in a controlled setting became pregnant at a higher rate than those who didn’t. [Fertility and Sterility Journal]
Where should I start if I want to change my lifestyle?
The British Psychological Society found that breaking up goals into phases increases your chances of completing them all, faster. So, rather than thinking “I want to lose 50 pounds” start with “I will have a healthy breakfast on weekdays.”
When it comes to changing your diet, reading nutrition labels is helpful to find out what you’re really eating. People who choose brands labeled “organic” or “gluten free” consume as much as 35% more calories because they see them as healthy, but they are actually loaded with added sugar.
Surrounding yourself with positive influences and reinforcing photos of your goals, as well as taking charge of your lifestyle by ordering first in restaurants to avoid following others’ leads, can help you make better dietary choices.