New research from Italy suggests that a healthy diet is linked to fertility. A study of more than one thousand people found that those who were fertile ate more fruit, vegetables and eggs than those who were not.
The research was carried out over a period of a year, asking those involved about their diet and lifestyle. If found that those who were fertile were less likely to smoke, to consume excess alcohol or to use recreational drugs. They also ate vegetables, fruit and eggs more frequently.
Why does diet make a difference to fertility?
The research team suggested that excessive consumption of artificial fats could disrupt ovulation, conception and early embryonic development and advised eating more healthy fats found in avocados, eggs, olive oil and salmon. For men, they advised food which is rich in zinc and antioxidants, such as fruit and vegetables, as well as selenium which is found in eggs.
When you are trying to conceive, it is easy to get very carried away about what you eat and don’t eat – but the general advice here is that you should follow the basic principles of healthy eating. There is no need to panic about an occasional glass of wine or piece of chocolate or to follow a hugely restrictive diet, but rather to make sure that most of what you eat is good for you.
You can read more about the research here
Last week was incredibly busy with National Infertility Awareness Week and then The Fertility Show. It was great to see so much support from individuals and fertility clinics for NIAW with fundraising activities across the country, and lots of coverage in the media and social media. I really enjoyed meeting so many of you at The Fertility Show too where I was on the Infertility Network UK stand.
This year, I spoke in a seminar about the factors to take into consideration when choosing a clinic and chaired a Question Time session on treatment overseas with consultants from Las Vegas (The Fertility Center of Las Vegas) and Barcelona (Barcelona IVF) which made for an interesting discussion. Overseas treatment has become increasingly popular in recent years as it can be a more affordable option and it had also been the only way to access donor egg treatment without long waiting lists. Now there are many more clinics in the UK able to offer donor eggs without a wait, and with the added advantage of a donor who will be traceable in the future, so it will be interesting to see how this starts to impact on the numbers of people who travel overseas.
One thing which really struck me when talking to people at The Fertility Show this year though was how much people were blaming themselves for their fertility problems – for not eating well enough, for being too stressed, for not leading perfect lifestyles. Of course, this has always happened to a degree, but the more help there is available to encourage people to “boost” their natural fertility, the worse this seems to get.
These weren’t obese people who were living on chips and ice cream and not getting any exercise – by any normal standards they were people who were leading very healthy lifestyles, but they had started to believe that they needed to lead a perfect lifestyle every single moment of their lives if they were going to give themselves a proper chance of trying to conceive. We all want to do all that we can to help ourselves through our fertility problems, and so it’s inevitable that advice about things that we can do to make a difference are taken seriously – but I can’t help thinking that moderation is often a far better mantra for anyone trying to conceive.
It makes me really sad to talk to people who are being made to think that they’d get pregnant if they could just eat more lettuce or never go near chocolate. You don’t want to be very over or under weight if you are trying to conceive, you don’t want to smoke or drink too much alcohol, and you do want to lead a healthy lifestyle and to feel good about yourself, but succumbing to an occasional unhealthy snack or glass of wine or missing out on a session at the gym isn’t going to stop you getting pregnant. So my message to anyone trying to conceive is to be kind to yourself for a change – it’s really not your fault…