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Diet and Fertility: Foods that Can Impact Chances of Fertility Issues

If you’re trying to conceive, chances are that you’ve read an article or two about a fertility superfood or supplement. While the majority of these claims have little to no scientific evidence to back up the results, eating a balanced and nutritious diet that avoids things like refined sugars, excessive alcohol, and trans fats can help improve your chances of conception.

So what does the ideal diet look like for couples trying to conceive? Here, Heather Doerr, ARNP of CRM Orlando in Orlando, Florida goes over what to eat (and what to avoid) to give women trying to conceive their best chance of success.

Pile Your Plate with Fruits and Veggies

You’ve heard it hundreds of times – Americans need to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to maintain a heart healthy diet. But upping your intake of greens doesn’t just decrease your risk of heart disease – it can also improve your chances of successfully achieving a pregnancy. According to Nurse Practitioner Doerr, “Studies examining the effects of lifestyle on fertility have shown some promising data regarding dietary modifications and improved outcomes. Men and women who choose to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains tend to have better fertility.”

But why are fruits and veggies so good for fertility? The answer may lie in antioxidants, compounds that reduce oxidative stress or damage. Sperm and eggs are particularly sensitive to the damage caused by free radicals as oxidative stress has been associated with decrease sperm and egg maturation, fertilization, embryo development, and pregnancy. [i]

So are all fruits and veggies created equal on the antioxidant front? Not quite. While all fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, berries pack the biggest punch. Soy is also a great source of antioxidants (and a great plant based protein!), along with dark chocolate – so feel free to indulge in a square or two every now and then.

Say Yes to Healthy Fats

Not all fats are created equal. While those trying to conceive should avoid monosaturated trans fats (which have been proven to increase ovulatory dysfunction), research has shown that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help semen and egg quality[ii]. For women undergoing fertility treatment, a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is even more important as it has been shown to increase blood flow - an important factor in ovarian stimulation and egg quality.

The best way to work omega-3’s into your diet? Nurse Practitioner Doerr of CRM Orlando says around 8oz of smaller species of fish each week is the way to go. Fish such as salmon, tilapia, haddock, and trout contain an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids without exposing you to the increased levels of mercury often found in larger fish such as mackerel and big tuna.

Putting it All Together

If you think these recommendations look familiar, it’s because they’re very similar to the Mediterranean diet – and with good reason. According to Nurse Practitioner Doerr of CRM Orlando, findings reveal that following the Mediterranean Diet can positively impact your levels of folate, B6, the fluid surrounding a woman’s eggs, and omega-3 fatty acid intake, with one study even showing that following the Mediterranean Diet can increase your chances of pregnancy by up to 40%![iii]

While following a healthy lifestyle that includes a Mediterranean-style diet doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to get pregnant, it can help create the right environment for conception. If you have been trying to conceive for one year without success (or 6 months if over 35), contact us at CRM Orlando to schedule a consultation with one of our fertility experts by calling us at 800-343-6331 or requesting an appointment today!

[i] Ahmadi, Bashiri, Ghadiri-Anari, & Nadjarzadeh, 2016

[ii] Salas-Huetos, Bullo, & Salas-Salvado, 2017

[iii] Mmbaga & Luk, 2012

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