Diet and fertility are intrinsically linked, and eating a healthy and varied diet is probably the most important cornerstone to good health. An ideal fertility diet has lots of fresh fruit and vegetables (organic if possible), balanced by a variety of foods that provide protein, whole grains and essential fats. Processed and packaged foods are best avoided if possible, and eating wild salmon, tuna, herring, sardines and trout 2-3 times a week is safe, but marlin, swordfish and shark may contain mercury so they’re best restricted to once a week. It’s widely known that a Mediterranean diet is considered ideal for fertility (that’s not one based on lots of pizza or pasta by the way!) as it has fresh fish, vegetables, fruit and olive oil, but a south-east Asian diet is equally good for many people. Quite what is best for each of us varies, and we have specific, personalised dietary advice for each of the six fertility types, but certain things apply to all of us:
We know diet is important for female fertility and studies show:
- Changing the diet by replacing carbohydrates with animal protein reduces ovulation rates, and adding just one serving of meat (especially chicken or turkey) a day increases the chances of not ovulating by 32%! i
- In contrast replacing carbohydrates with vegetable protein doubles the likelihood of ovulating!
- Having trans-fats in the diet rather than monounsaturated fats more than doubles the risk of infertility due to anovulationii
Trans-fats are present in unsaturated plant fats (generally vegetable oils) and are found in many pre-prepared foods, particularly in fast-foods, snack food, fried food and baked goods.
- When trans-fats are eaten instead of carbohydrates there’s 73% greater risk of anovulation iii
Monounsaturated fats are found in natural foods including red meat, milk products, nuts and high fat fruits such as olives and avocados, as well as cashews, macadamia and oatmeal and oils are an especially important source of monounsaturated fats:
- Olive oil is about 75%
- Sunflower oil (high oleic variety) contains up to 85%
- Canola oil 58%
- Lard 40%
Women wishing to follow a highly “fertile diet” should concentrate on:iv