There are many different diets out there touted as helping fertility, and it can be challenging to discern how to best support yourself. After over a decade of clinical experience and trying out all of the different fads, I would say, barring any specific health complaints, that it is less about taking more things away and more about introducing some of the right foods and eating relatively consistently. After all, part of health is happiness, and part of happiness is eating the things we love.
A recent study examined Mediterranean-style eating and fertility outcomes in 167 couples going through IVF + ICSI and the results of this study help validate the idea of adopting some healthy eating habits to potentially contribute to positive pregnancy outcomes. So, you can boost up your overall fertility process with the following 10 strategies:
1. Eat foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids such as fatty, cold water (not farm raised) fish, including salmon, tuna, herring and mackerel. Eat walnuts, flax seeds and leafy green vegetables. You can also use a high-quality EPA-DHA (fish oil) supplement.
2. Use monounsaturated oils, especially virgin or extra virgin oil, coconut oil or sesame oil as your primary fat/oil sources.
3. Minimize oils that are high in Omega 6 fatty acids, including corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed oils.
4. Reduce or eliminate intake of trans-fatty acids which are prevalent in margarine, vegetable shortening, and almost all commercially prepared packaged foods.
5. Eat small, protein-based meals throughout the day including natural sources of good protein, such as organic meats (raised without hormones or antibiotics), organic nut butters, eggs, hummus and quinoa.
6. Include vegetable proteins such as peas, beans, lentils and nuts.
7. Eat whole grains (organic when possible) such as quinoa, millet and amaranth. Avoid refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white rice, white pasta and white sugar.
8. Look for sprouted grain breads (sprouted grains have a higher protein and lower carbohydrate content than regular flour). These must be kept refrigerated.
9. Make complex carbohydrates such as bread, past and grains your smallest food group.
10. "Binge" once a week on things you love. Eating outside of the above parameters once a week not only optimizes the metabolism to best utilize how you're eating the rest of the week, but also contributes to the longevity of eating well most of the time.
Caylie See, L.Ac., FABORM
American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Ferriss, Tim. The 4 Hour Body, New York: Crown Archetype, (2010).
Simopoulos, Artemis P., M.D., and Jo Robinson, The Omega Diet: The Lifesaving Nutritional Program based on the Diet of the Island of Crete, Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., (1999) p.9