IVF Diet Myths
Some books or web sites may purport that certain foods have the ability to increase a woman’s fertility, although these sources should be taken with a grain of salt (and no, sodium won’t help either). Most of these miracle foods do not hold up to rigorous scientific scrutiny, and are further mitigated by the differences between each woman’s own nutritional needs. In fact, anything short of a complete diet will be doing your body a disservice.
Nevertheless, there are a few foods and nutrients that play a more important role than others when it comes to fertilization. Likewise, expecting mothers should remember which foods to consume and which to avoid during pregnancy.
Dietary Suggestions for IVF
First and foremost, women should aim to maintain a healthy, balanced diet if they are planning to conceive. Unless a disease or medical condition prevents someone from consuming certain foods, no dietary components should be completely ruled out. With that said, studies suggest that a greater focus on the following foods may help IVF success:
- Protein: Women who consume a generous amount of protein per day tend to have higher levels of fertility, especially when protein is consumed in place of an abundance of carbohydrates. Leaner sources of protein are best, with the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish also providing benefits during pregnancy.
- Folic acid: Foods that are high in folic acid are positively linked to fertility rates. Try to consume daily servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals and breads.
- Water: Proper hydration is a key factor of good general health, fertilization and pregnancy included. Drink plenty of water while avoiding beverages that may dehydrate you.
- Good vs.bad fat: Consuming many monosaturated fats, which lower LDL cholesterol and are generally considered “good” fats, has been correlated with better fertility. These can be found in olive oil, seeds, nuts, and avocadoes. Saturated fats, on the other hand, can have a negative effect when consumed too often. These are found in red meat, whole milk, and butter.
- Limit caffeine: Try not to consume more than 200mg of caffeine per day, which amounts to roughly two cups of coffee. One study suggests that five or more cups of coffee per day can decrease fertility rates by as much as 50 percent.
- Limit alcohol: Studies are mixed on whether alcohol impairs fertility, but limiting alcoholic intake is certainly a good idea in general. Even if it doesn’t affect fertility, women should avoid alcohol while pregnant.
- Avoid herbal remedies: Although vitamins can be useful for filling the gaps in dietary needs, herbal supplements have not been shown to have a positive effect. In fact, some herbs may interact negatively with fertility drugs. Always consult your doctor before taking any medicinal supplements, prescription or otherwise.
The Importance of BMI
Body mass index, or BMI, also plays a role in the fertility of men and women alike. Naturally, dietary choices play a significant factor in BMI. Women should bear in mind that obesity may very well decrease their fertility as well as regular ovulation cycles. On the other hand, too much exercise and physical activity can also play a negative role. As a general rule for women trying to conceive, it’s best to maintain a healthy yet stable weight, while engaging in no more than an hour of exercise per day.
Increase Your IVF Success with Us
We want your IVF treatment to be as efficient and successful as possible. To learn more about what you can do in regard to IVF and pregnancy, visit our office for a consultation.