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Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015


Healthy meals could improve odds

While planning for a family and working to conceive come with a multitude of factors, one element has been proven to potentially increase the odds of a successful outcome. A proper and nutritional diet that aims to enhance fertility can be both beneficial to the conception of a child as well as maintaining a healthy, balanced life.

“The Fertility Diet,” a book released by a group of Harvard Medical School researchers, found that there are particular foods that may increase the chances of becoming pregnant – as well as foods that may also be a hindrance.

The findings of the study, which took place over the course of eight years with more than 18,000 women, revealed the answer to boosting fertility is not in exotic or rare food items that may exist in folklore but rather in a balanced diet of whole grains, healthy fats and protein. The University of Rochester’s Women’s Lifestyle Center offers a breakdown and targeted strategies to using the information released by the study. Carbohydrates are often a component to many effective and appropriate diets, but it is the particular type of grains and carbohydrates that provide the nutritional and fertility benefits.

“Slow carbs” and “fast carbs” – the difference between the two can have significant meaning. Fast carbohydrates such as white breads, rice and potatoes, digest quickly and can contribute to the risk of ovulatory infertility. Consuming slow carbs, which are minimally processed and are rich in fiber, are a superior choice and can include whole grains, legumes, fresh fruit and unflavored milk. It is important to read the nutrition label on grocery items carefully to make sure a product that says “whole grain” does in fact contain whole grains.

When the study concluded that healthy fats were beneficial in boosting fertility, it lead to the suggestion of staying away from one kind in particular. Trans fats were strongly linked to an increase in ovulatory infertility. These negative effects from trans fats were drawn from diets that consumed as little as 4 grams per day.

Another example of how the diet was specific to particular food items rather than general categories is when it came to protein intake. While protein plays a significant role in proper nutrition, it was the amount and sources of the protein that had the most effect. Women who had high animal protein intake were found to report more ovulatory problems and were more likely to have ovulatory infertility. Fish and eggs were found not to have any negative effect on ovulation, but plantbased protein such as nuts, soybeans and tofu were found to have a moderate protection against ovulatory infertility.

There were considerable findings regarding the consumption of milk that led to the suggestion that while full-fat dairy products such as whole milk, whole milk yogurt and 4 percent cottage cheese were beneficial; skim and low-fat milk were found to do the opposite. It was suggested that after becoming pregnant, it may be recommended to switch back to skim or low-fat milk. Making room in a diet for the extra calories from full-fat dairy products was also noted.

In strategically planning for conception, appropriate and healthy body fat and weight both played a significant role. What is termed the “fertility zone” for body weight outlines that women with too little body fat may have a difficult time maintaining a pregnancy or menstruating, and women with too much may also have a difficult time conceiving.

The American Pregnancy Association states proper nutrition can be beneficial to both men and women when trying to conceive. In particular, the nutrient zinc has been found to contribute to testosterone production in men and ovulation and fertility in women. It is recommended that 15 mg a day is appropriate in maintaining a healthy reproductive system. Changing a diet to effective fertility is best done anywhere from three months to a year prior to conceiving There are many well-known suggestions for healthy nutrition, especially relating to fertility. Some of those items include folic acid, which the U.S. Public Health Service recommends women of childbearing age obtain 400 micrograms a day, calcium, supplements and vitamins. And there are well-known items to be avoided as well, such as caffeine, alcohol and artificial sweeteners. Ultimately, diet should always be discussed with a physician when trying to conceive, as some infertility issues are not diet-related, but a balanced and healthy diet of minerals and vitamins can often be the best place to start.


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