Dr. Juan Francisco Solís Bercian
MULTIMEDICA VISTA HERMOSA
One of the most frequently asked questions to fertility specialists is: What changes in my diet can I make to improve my fertility? There are only a few strictly scientific studies about the subject. One of the most complete, took advantage of the great scale study of women, THE NURSES HEALTH STUDY (120,000 married nurses between the ages of 30 and 35), which began in 1976, updating the information every 2 years. Taking advantage of this large population, Harvard scientists (Jorge Chavarro and Walter Willett) published in 2008 their book THE FERTILITY DIET, where they present their results.
It must be clarified that such advice significantly help improve fertility when the problem is OVULATORY, that is to say, in women who cannot get pregnant because they are not ovulating or have some imbalance in their ovulatory process. It would be incorrect to believe that these changes are going to solve fertility problems caused by tubaric obstruction, endometriosis, severe male factor, etc. However, it is general advice that can be used to have good health in general and improve the ovulatory process.
On the other hand it is important to say that if you have fertility problems, that is 1 year of exposure to pregnancy and it has not happened if you are under 30 years old; or 6 months if you are over 30 years old, you must consult your doctor as soon as possible to begin a basic investigation of your reproductive system and correct the factors involved in such difficulty.
This study discovered 10 simple strategies that improve fertility:
- Avoid “trans-fats” (margarine, French fries, “fast food”)
- Use unsaturated vegetable oil for cooking, like olive and canola oils.
- Eat more protein from vegetable sources, like beans and nuts, and less protein from animal sources (red meat).
- Choose whole grains and other sources of carbohydrates that elevate sugar and insulin more slowly than highly refined sugars which rapidly increase glucose and insulin in the organism (cakes, brownies, doughnuts, pies, etc).
- Take daily a glass of whole milk, a small cup of ice cream or a glass of yogurt made from WHOLE MILK. In this diet it is better to temporarily avoid skim milk or “light” dairy products like cottage cheese. Of course, if you are not lactose intolerant!
- Take a multivitamin supplement that contains at least 40 to 80 mg of iron, 400 mcg of Folic acid, and other B complex vitamins.
- Ingest iron from fruits, vegetables, beans, and vitamins supplements and less from red meats.
- Ingest drinking water. Coffee, tea and alcohol may be ingested but with moderation. Avoid sodas. A regular soda equals 12 tablespoons of sugar! This is one of the main reasons for being overweight.
- Maintain a healthy WEIGHT. If you are overweight, losing between 5 and 10% of your present weight may significantly improve your ovulation.
- Exercise. A daily exercise plan, or at least 3 times a week, for a period of 1 to 2 hours per session, especially “aerobic” exercise improves your ovulation. Excess exercise may have the opposite effect.
Tobacco consumption deserves to be mentioned separately because it has been more than proven that cigarettes have highly negative effects over fertility and pregnancy. This is as valid in men as it is in women. It is more than proven, for example that women who smoke have a harder time getting pregnant, spontaneously as well as when they seek assisted reproduction, have a higher risk of spontaneous abortion and congenital abnormalities. Therefore if you smoke and plan to get pregnant, you must stop smoking first.
As you may realize these recommendations also work for having good health in general, so try to take them into account if you are planning to get pregnant and want to help improve your fertility and reduce future complications.