The saying “Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food” may not be unfamiliar to you and this is especially important when a couple is planning to start a family but although there is a lot of evidence that nutrition is critical to male and female fertility. , is often overlooked. Nutrition can be a risk factor for reduced fertility as well as a protective factor for fertility and a healthy pregnancy, therefore, a balanced and healthy diet can have positive effects on fertility and the likelihood of becoming pregnant .
Let’s look at some factors where nutrition and fertility are linked –
1. body mass and composition –
a. Underweight: Women who are overweight may stop ovulating completely or have irregular menstrual cycles. This may affect fertility.
b. Obesity: Obesity affects fertility in both men and women. It can cause ovulation dysfunction, irregular menstrual cycles, and diseases including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in women. It may affect the quality of sperm in men.
2. Eating Habits –
a. Folate: To prevent neural tube abnormalities in a growing fetus, adequate intake of folate is necessary. Women seeking pregnancy should take folic acid supplements before and during the early stages of pregnancy.
b. Iron: Women with iron deficiency may experience anovulation, or lack of ovulation. It is important for both sexes to ensure 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 may also have a positive effect on the fertility of both men and women.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Shobha Gupta, Medical Director, Gynecologist and Infertility Specialist at Mother’s Lap IVF Center in New Delhi and Vrindavan, shared that protective factors are factors that can increase your chances of having a healthy ovarian cycle, and you are good. enough nutrition to support pregnancy in women or increase your chances of producing enough mobile, well-structured sperm in a male. She explained, “Men and women need different nutrients for fertility, but there are some dietary habits and foods that are generally beneficial. Meals that are regular and consistent, with plenty 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 if a person is consuming enough of certain micronutrients, which are critical for all stages of ovulation and sperm production.”
On the other hand, she pointed out that dietary risk factors for fertility are specific dietary patterns, nutrients or biochemical changes associated with diet that reduce your chance of healthy ovulation and sperm production and these include –
a. Alcohol and Caffeine: It is recommended that alcohol intake be minimized during pregnancy as it is linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. Excessive alcohol consumption can also be harmful to fertility.
b. Sugar and Insulin Resistance: Refined diets rich in sugar are linked to insulin resistance, a condition linked to disorders such as PCOS. In women, insulin resistance can affect ovulation.
Perhaps the most significant risk factor for reduced fertility is being overweight or obese. Dr Shobha Gupta said, “For women, a body mass index (BMI – a measure of how heavy you are compared to how tall you are) above 30kg/m2 can lead to reduced fertility or under 20kg/m2. In this case, seeing a nutritionist to bring your weight closer to a healthy weight in a safe and nutritious way can significantly increase your fertility. In addition to this, diets high in saturated fat, simple sugars or alcohol are associated with reduced fertility in both males and females as mentioned above. There are specific micronutrients that are essential in ovulation and sperm production that may be missing from your diet which affects your fertility. In this case, food is always the best option to ensure adequate intake, but supplementation may also be necessary.”
She added, “Lifestyle factors such as not being active also reduce your fertility. Regular moderate exercise has a positive effect on fertility and general health. On the other hand, women who do excessive exercise may experience irregular menstrual cycles and more importantly long term stress may affect reproductive hormones. Yoga and meditation are two ways to reduce stress that may 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 family history, this can be treated with medicine or a specific diet.”
According to Dr. Shobha Gupta, a healthy and well-balanced diet can have a positive effect on fertility and increase the chances of conceiving from a healthy lifestyle and intake of essential nutrients –
- improves egg and sperm quality respectively,
- regulates hormones,
- promotes a healthy and regular menstrual cycle,
- supports uterine health,
- balances blood sugar levels,
- reduces inflammation
- it promotes overall health
In conclusion, Dr. Shobha Gupta said, “It is advisable to consult a nutritionist for a complete nutritional assessment and customized recommendations to ensure that you have the best dietary pattern that offers all the necessary macro and micronutrients for healthy ovarian cycle, healthy sperm production and successful pregnancy. .”