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Dietary and Life Style Change to Increase Fertility Rate

Dietary and Lifestyle Changes That Increase Fertility Rate

By Dr. Dongfeng Zhou, AP, DAOM

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 8 couples have trouble conceiving in the United States. In other words, about 6.7 million Americans are unable to have children after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse. Health experts often advise these couples to turn to certain diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, in order to increase their odds. Diets such as the Mediterranean diet have nutrients that stimulate the body for fertilization. Aside from the Mediterranean diet, decades of research tell us that other nutritional sources improve fertility. This article will go into detail on certain lifestyle changes that are known increase fertility rate.

Nutrients that Improve Fertility

The nutrients listed below are nutrients that are known to assist with the increase of fertility rate.

Omega-3: Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that comes from diets. It helps reduce inflammation and blood coagulation. Omega-3 assists with improving egg quality. Apart from that, it slows down ovarian aging and improves embryo morphology. Omega-3 also helps to reduce the risk of miscarriages and may improve sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg. Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, catfish, halibut, canned tuna, as well as avocados are particularly high in omega-3.

Folic acid: This may help to regulate ovulation and prevent neural tube defects in fetuses.  Sources of folic acid include dark, leafy green vegetables, fruits, avocados, nuts, beans, peas, dairy, poultry, eggs, seafood, and grains.

Vitamin E:  A powerful antioxidant that has been shown to improve the thickness of the endometrial lining and reduce oxidative stress on sperm. Organically, Vitamin E occurs in nuts and seeds

Iron and Vitamin B-12: Due to menstrual blood loss, reproductive women are at risk of iron deficiency and anemia and because of this vitamin supplementation may have to be used. Furthermore with men, B-12 is known to help improve sperm count. Rich sources of iron and B-12 are animal liver,  beef, turkey, and clams. Others include meat, spinach, beets, black fungus and other mushrooms, mulberries, blackberries, dates, goji berries, and raspberries.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C has been shown to significantly reduce oxidative damage to the sperm. Its sources are citrus, peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, baked potatoes, and tomatoes.

Iodine: If a woman has hypothyroidism, her body is likely to lack iodine. When a pregnant woman lacks the nutrient, she is also at risk of having a miscarriage. The reason is that its deficiency affects the fetus. To make iodine part of your meal, eat seaweed, yogurt, eggs, white fish, shellfish, and meat.

Zinc: Zinc is important for sperm production and motility. Its deficiency leads to low testosterone levels and low sperm counts. Essential sources of zinc are oysters, red meat, poultry, and seafood.

Selenium: Selenium may lower thyroid antibody levels in women who have normal thyroid function and may prevent miscarriages. It is found in Brazil nuts and fish.

Healthy Fat: Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health noted that women who consumed the highest amount of plant-based monounsaturated fats (chiefly avocados) during the IVF cycle were 3-4 times more likely to conceive. Other healthy fat sources include fatty fish, nuts and seeds, and olive oil.

To Improve Overall Fertility

Many people often ask the question, “Can lifestyle affect fertility?” The answer to that question is yes, it can. Many couples feel powerless about fertility and are often at the mercy of assisted reproductive technologies like IUI, IVF, and ICSI. On the bright side, however, many dietary and lifestyle choices can  improve fertility. Small daily choices can lead to big changes in fertility and pregnancy outcomes. Follow the steps below to change your narrative:

The Do’s:

  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, poultry, fiber, and seafood. Fiber-rich foods, for example, help your body get rid of excess hormones and maintain your blood sugar level. By binding fibers with the intestine, certain fibers remove excess estrogen from your body.
  • Eat nuts: 75mg of walnuts per day improves sperm count, motility, and morphology. All nuts and most seeds benefit the sperm as well. You should also eat pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, black sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, and cashews.
  • Moderate exercise:  Moderate exercise increases circulation and lowers stress levels, promotes healthy sleep/wake cycles, and benefits the pituitary gland to release healthy fertility hormones. In men, a lower BMI increases testosterone. For women, a healthy weight promotes regular ovulation and menstruation cycles.
  • Sun exposure helps increase serotonin levels, reduces stress levels, and increases Vitamin D. Note that exposing your face and forearms to the midday sun for 20 minutes produces about 2000 IU of vitamin D. Yes, you should try it!
  • Acupuncture: To emphasize its benefits, acupuncture reduces stress and increases circulation to the ovaries and uterus. It also increases sperm production, assists implantation, reduces the side effects of IVF hormone therapies and reduces morning sickness.
  • Adequate sleep. Studies have shown that sleep can affect hormone production. In short, 7-9 hours of sleep lowers FSH and cortisol levels and increases melatonin levels. It also increases estrogen and testosterone levels. In summary, the more rest you get, the more your chances of taking in.
  • Stress management. Stress decreases Gonadotrophin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), and reduces menstrual cycle length. Acupuncture, behavioral therapy, meditation, and relaxation exercises could help lower stress levels.

Eat a bigger breakfast: As a woman dealing with infertility problems, eating a substantial breakfast can help change your story. In one study, researchers found that eating a larger breakfast may improve the effects of hormones on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is a major cause of infertility in women.

The Don’ts:

  • Avoid full-fat dairy: You should avoid it because it has a negative effect on sperm morphology, motility, and concentration. In a 2007 study, Jorge E. Chavarro, a Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, concluded that high intake of dairy foods may increase the risk of anovulatory infertility.
  • Avoid processed meat and sweets: Indeed, you have to stay away from processed meat and sweets because they can reduce sperm motility. Sperm concentration is reduced in men who consume high carbs and high glycemic diets. If you are a woman suffering from PCOS, you need to cut down on carbs because they may increase your insulin levels and get you overweight.
  • Avoid processed foods that are high in trans-fats: Without mincing words, they can negatively affect ovulation. While it is good to always eat healthy meals to improve your fertility, ensure that meals with high trans-fat have no place in your diet. By and large, trans-fat harms insulin sensitivity.
  • Avoid plastic. Keep in mind that micro-plastic in plastic containers and food wraps lower sperm and follicle numbers. Let that sink in!
  • Avoid environmental pollutants: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), long exposure to certain environmental pollutants can affect fertility or lead to miscarriages. These environmental pollutants include chemical agents (such as organic solvents), heavy metals, vegetal toxins, and pesticides.
  • Avoid cold drinks and foods:A woman should avoid icy cold drinks and foods during menstruation because the cold constricts circulation in the abdomen, thereby decreasing fertility.
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, and marijuana use:These lower sperm count and cause ovulation disorders. Smoking affects the reproductive health of both men and women. To be precise, female smokers are likely to suffer from a rapid decline of ovarian reserves, delayed conception, increased risks of miscarriage, and low success rate of assisted reproductive technology.
  • Cut down on caffeine: Excess intake of caffeine causes insomnia, agitation, irritation, chest pain, nausea, and nervousness. So, you don’t need any of those while making efforts to conceive.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there is no denying the fact that fertility is often a long-yet-beautiful journey for couples. It is also emotionally challenging, as it comes with many ups and downs. Despite the challenges, there is light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, statistics show that most couples eventually conceive and have babies. According to available data, between 82% and 92% of couples conceive with 12 menstrual cycles of attempts. In a similar vein, between 90% and 98% of couples conceive with 24 menstrual cycles. Children are adorable gifts that most couples long to have. As a couple trying to take in, all you need to do is embrace the dietary and lifestyle changes shared in this informative article. Afterward, you will notice the positive outcomes. Don’t procrastinate – start today!

References

  1. Web MD. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-979/caffeine. Accessed November 16, 2021.
  2. Silvestris E, Lovero D, Palmirotta R. Nutrition and female fertility: an interdependent correlation. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2019.00346/full. Revised June 7, 2019. Accessed November 10, 2021.
  3. Brown MJ. 16 natural ways to boost fertility. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-fertility-tips-to-get-pregnant. Revised August 13, 2020. Accessed November 14, 2021.
  4. Anderson K, Nisenblat V, Norman R. Lifestyle factors in people seeking infertility treatment – a review. Austr N Zeal J Obstetr Gynaecol. (2010) 50:8-20.
  5. Reproductive health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/index.htm Accessed November 17, 2021.
  6. Kunzle R, Mueller MD, Hanggi W, et al. Semen quality of male smokers and nonsmokers in infertile couples. Fertility Steril. 79:287-91.
  7. Diet and lifestyle changes to boost fertility. https://www.westernfertility.com/infertility/diet-and-lifestyle-changes-to-boost-fertility. Revised April 23, 2019. Accessed November 13, 2021.
  8. Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner B, et al. A prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility. Hum Reprod. 2007 May; 22 (5): 1340-7.

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