Diet, nutrition and lifestyle tips to influence fertility, increase the chances of conceiving
Expert reveals the causes behind infertility; shares diet, lifestyle and nutrition tips to positively influence fertility and increase the chances of conceiving
The saying, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" may not be unfamiliar to you and this is especially important when a couple intends to begin a family but although there is ample evidence that nutrition is crucial for both male and female fertility, it is frequently overlooked. Nutrition can be a risk factor for decreased fertility as well as a protective factor for fertility and a healthy pregnancy hence, a balanced and healthy diet can have positive effects on fertility and raise the likelihood of getting pregnant.
Let’s look at some factors in which nutrition and fertility are linked -
1. Body mass and composition -
a. Underweight: Women who are underweight may cease ovulating entirely or have erratic menstrual cycles. Fertility may be impacted by this.
b. Obesity: Obesity has an impact on fertility in both men and women. It can cause ovulatory dysfunction, irregular menstruation cycles, and diseases including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in women. It may impact the quality of sperm in men.
2. Eating Habits -
a. Folate: Preventing neural tube abnormalities in growing foetuses requires a sufficient consumption of folate. Pregnancy-seeking women should take folic acid supplements both before and during the early stages of pregnancy.
b. Iron: Women who are iron deficient may experience anovulation, or an absence of ovulation. It is important for both sexes to make sure their iron levels are appropriate.
c. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The development of the baby's brain and eyes depends on omega-3 fatty acids. They might also positively affect both men's and women's fertility.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Shobha Gupta, Medical Director, Gynecologist and Infertility Expert at Mother’s Lap IVF Centre in New Delhi and Vrindavan, shared that protective factors are factors that can increase your chances of having a healthy ovulatory cycle, being well-nourished enough to support a pregnancy in a female or increasing your chances of producing enough mobile, well-structured sperm in a male. She explained, “Males and females require different nutrients for fertility, however there are several dietary habits and foods that are generally advantageous. Meals that are regular and consistent, with enough of fish, veggies, iron, and healthy fats, are a great place to start when it comes to giving your body what it needs for optimal fertility. Dietitians can determine whether a person is eating enough of certain micronutrients, which are crucial for each stage of ovulation and sperm production.”
On the other hand, she revealed that dietary risk factors for fertility are specific dietary patterns, nutrients or diet-related biochemical changes that reduce your chance of healthy ovulation and sperm production and these include -
a. Alcohol and Caffeine: It is advised to minimise alcohol intake during pregnancy as it has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. Overindulgence in alcohol can also be detrimental to fertility.
b. Sugar and Insulin Resistance: Refined sugar-rich diets have been linked to insulin resistance, a condition that is linked to disorders such as PCOS. In women, ovulation can be impacted by insulin resistance.
Possibly the most significant risk factor for reduced fertility is being over or underweight. Dr Shobha Gupta said, “For women, a body mass index (BMI – which is a measure of how heavy you are compared to how tall you are) of over 30kg/m2 or under 20kg/m2 can lead to reduced fertility. In this case, seeing a dietitian to bring your weight closer to a healthy weight in a safe and nourishing way can increase your fertility significantly. In addition to this, diets high in saturated fat, simple sugars or alcohol are also implicated in reduced fertility in both males and females as mentioned above. There are specific micro-nutrients that are essential in ovulation and sperm production that may be missing from your diet that affect your fertility. In this case, food is always the best option to ensure adequate intake, but a supplement may also be required.”
She added, “Also factors related to lifestyle like not being active also reduces your fertility. Moderate to regular exercise has a good impact on fertility and general health. On the other hand, women who exercise excessively may experience irregular menstrual cycles and most importantly reproductive hormones may be impacted by long-term stress. Yoga and meditation are two stress-reduction methods that could be helpful. Reduced fertility may be linked to elevated levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in your blood test results. Depending on the results of each individual test and the family history, this can be treated with medicine or a specific diet.”
According to Dr Shobha Gupta, a healthy and well-balanced diet can positively influence fertility and increase the chances of conceiving since healthy lifestyle and in taking of essential nutrients -
- improves egg and sperm quality respectively,
- regulates hormones,
- promotes healthy and regular menstrual cycle,
- supports uterine health,
- balances blood sugar levels,
- reduces inflammation
- promotes overall health
Dr Shobha Gupta concluded, “It is advisable to contact a nutritionist for a full nutritional assessment and customised recommendations to make sure you have the optimum dietary pattern that offers all the essential macro and micronutrients for a healthy ovulatory cycle, healthy sperm production and successful pregnancy.”