A good diet can help improve the success rate of infertility treatment. In this article, Anya Sizer of The London Women’s Clinic discusses the importance of a eating the correct food and recommends changes to make to eating patterns to give your body the best chance possible of conceiving.
Diet and assisted pregnancy
Eating for two starts well before those magical two lines on a home test kit. Indeed, most experts say a minimum of three months is needed to obtain the optimum healthy environment in which to grow your child.
Even those of us who think we eat well could do with increasing our intake of certain vitamins and minerals. One study indicates that approximately 74% of women are nutrient deficient. For those facing fertility issues, especially unexplained infertility, it is well worth ensuring that you follow the best diet possible before undergoing treatment.
Diet recommendations for women about to undergo infertility treatment
What then would be the key changes to recommend? I would point out that these recommendations are aimed at improving your life circumstances rather than adding an extra burden to what is already probably quite a stressful time. I always say follow the 80-20 rule. For 80% of the time, make sure your nutrition is as good as possible. See yourself as an athlete in training and invest in yourself. However, be kind to yourself and DO allow yourself the occasional treat. I see too many women making their lives stressful by trying to get everything perfect. The occasional piece of chocolate cake can do one the world of good.
My top recommendations would be:
- Stick to a low GI diet to regulate blood sugar levels and stop insulin spikes. Insulin has been shown to not only inhibit conception via the blocking of progesterone levels, but also to be linked to increased birth defects in developing babies. In addition, treatment can be a demanding time and you will need a good, steady supply of energy just to see you through.
- Increase your water intake to at least two litres a day. This is necessary for several reasons: hormone regulation, flushing out of toxins, and energy levels.
- Increase your intake of protein and try to eat a little protein with every meal. This is vital for both egg and sperm quality, and it will take a minimum of three months for this to have an effect. Combining both carbohydrates and proteins in a meal slows down the release of energy, helping to stabilise energy levels throughout the day.
- Increase levels of essential fatty acids, especially omega 3 and 6, both of which are key for healthy hormone levels and foetal development.
- Reduce or preferably cut out caffeine as this leaches vital nutrients, causes false energy spikes, and has been linked to poor sperm count and miscarriage.
- When possible, buy organic foods as it will be higher in vitamins and minerals and without the pesticides that, in high doses, have been linked to both poor fertility and unhealthy pregnancy.
- Take a multivitamin pill containing folic acid together with an omega 3 and 6 supplement. Government advice is to also take vitamin D supplements, ideally in liquid form.
- Finally, make sure you have as much rest as possible. Sleep is incredibly important in the body’s recovery process, hormone regulation and energy levels. Sleep deprivation has been linked to adrenaline overload and the overproduction of insulin.
The best of luck with your baby plans.