Women's fertility–Healthy diet

Women's fertility – Advises for a healthy diet

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the medical definition of infertility is the failure to conceive following twelve months of unprotected intercourse. Global estimates of infertility range between 8 and 12% of couples with women of childbearing age affecting between 50 and 80 million people.

A large study found out that there are some foods that can be eaten in order to improve fertility and some others that can be avoided in order to avoid infertility. For eight years, the Harvard study followed 17,544 married nurses without any history of infertility as they tried to become or became pregnant. The research found that by changing five or more aspects of their diet (and exercise) habits, women with irregular or absent ovulation, which is responsible for 18 to 30 percent of infertility cases, reduced their risk of infertility by 80 percent.

Nutritional advises:

According with Walter Willet (professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of public Health) the author of The Fertility Diet (published by McGraw Hill) the follwing advises are to be followed in order to improve fertility:

  • Consume Good carbohydrates: Good carbohydrates are the ones containing fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. These nurients are digested slowly and have a more gradual effect on blood sugar and insulin. Previous studies have demonstrated that high insulin levels appear to inhibit ovulation. The Harvard study measured the glycemic load in women. The glycemic load is a measure, which shows the amount of bad carbohydrates eaten and how quickly they're turned into blood sugar. The study results reveal that women with highest glycemic load were 92% more likely to have ovulatory infertility than those whose diets had the lowest glycemic load.

  • Avoid trans fats: Trans fats are found mostly in cakes, cookies, animal products, fried food and some margarines. Trans fats are dangerous for the fertility because they increase insulin resistance. Insulin is in charge of transporting glucose from the bloodstream to the cells; this means that trans fats makes very difficult to move glucose into the cells. The pancreas pumps more and more insulin to the body and therefore the bloodstream becomes full of insulin. High levels of insulin cause a lot of metabolic disturbances, which affect ovulation. A previous study conducted by Willet and Chavarro found out that each 2% increase in trans fats was associated with a 73% increased risk for ovulation infertility.

  • Prefer full-fat dairy products instead of low-fat or non-fat ones: Full-fat dairy products convey the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. If low-fat or non-fat products are consumed, these hormones are also removed, so that only the male hormone stay in the body (androgens). When male hormones are unchecked by female hormones, ovulation is impaired.

  • Consume more proteins from plants: Plant proteins can be found in beans, nuts, seeds and tofu. Plant protein comes with healthy fats and is relatively low in calories and can be helpful for weight loss. Studies have revealed that a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24 is best for fertility.

  • Take folic acid: The study revealed that women taking 400 mg. folic acid daily were 40% less likely to experience ovulatory infertility over the eight years than women who did not take it.