Women who watch their weight and adhere to a Mediterranean-style diet – high in vegetables, vegetables oils like olive oil, fish and beans – may boost their odds of becoming pregnant, say dietitians at Loyola University Health System (LUHS) near Chicago.
“Establishing a healthy eating pattern and weight is a good first step for women who are looking to conceive,” Brooke Schantz, a dietitian with LUHS, a part of the nationwide Catholic health network Trinity Health, said in a news release.
“Not only will a healthy diet and lifestyle potentially help with fertility, but it also may influence fetal well-being and reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy.”
A 2010 study, meanwhile, suggested women who eat a Mediterranean-style diet may have better odds of becoming pregnant while undergoing infertility treatment.
Infertility affects 7.3 million people, according to the National Infertility Association. It said 30 percent of infertility is attributed to the male, while 30% is attributed to the female. The group also said 30 percent of infertility cases are due to weighing too much or too little.
Both of these extremes in weight cause shifts in hormones, which can affect ovulation. Reducing weight by even 5 percent can enhance fertility, LUHS said.
Schantz recommended the following nutrition tips for women who are looking to conceive:
- Reduce intake of foods with trans and saturated fats while increasing intake of monounsaturated fats, such as avocados and olive oil.
- Lower intake of animal protein and add more vegetable protein to your diet.
- Add more fiber to your diet by consuming whole grains, vegetables and fruit.
- Incorporate more vegetarian sources of iron such as legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
- Consume high-fat dairy instead of low-fat dairy.
- Take a regular women’s multivitamin.
Among the factors attributed to infertility among men is low sperm count and poor sperm motility, which are common in overweight and obese men.
“Men who are looking to have a baby also have a responsibility to maintain a healthy body weight and consume a balanced diet, because male obesity may affect fertility by altering testosterone and other hormone levels,” Schantz said.