Women health

 Fertility is a complicated process. The potential for conception in an individual or couple might depend on a variety of variables.

Before I had kids, I had some questions about how nutrition affected fertility and whether or not eating (or avoiding) particular foods should be a part of my preparation.


For the highest chances of conception, experts have recently undertaken more research on dietary habits and specific foods that prospective parents should think about incorporating or eliminating from their diet.

About 10 to 15 percent of couples struggle with infertility. It's crucial for the supporting spouse to adopt practices that assist fertility, even though the person who will become pregnant is frequently the center of attention when discussing fertility.

In fact, almost 50% of the time, infertility in couples is attributable to the male partner. This is mostly because of low spermatogenesis, or a lack of creation of quality sperm.

This article looks at five things to cut out of your diet if you're trying to get pregnant, along with other lifestyle suggestions for promoting conception.

1. Processed and red meats

According to recent studies, eating a lot of red and processed meats like beef, bacon, hot dogs, and sausage may be a cause of infertility in people of all sexes.

According to one study, males who ate a lot of processed meat had sperm that was of worse quality, quantity, and motility than those who ate fish.

Another study looked at the health data of 141 men having in vitro fertilization with their female partners, particularly a process termed intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), which fertility doctors occasionally employ when there is a problem with male fertility.

The study discovered a connection between men's decreased egg fertilization and frequent use of processed beef.

When compared to men who consumed 4.3 servings per week, those who consumed less than 1.5 servings per week had a 28% higher likelihood of becoming pregnant.

However, the guys who consumed the most poultry had fertilization rates that were 13% greater than those who consumed the least.

Trans fats and saturated fats, which are linked to reduced fertility, can also be found in high concentrations in red and processed meats.

According to additional research, a high overall diet of animal protein may also be linked to poorer reproductive results.

According to one study, ovulation issues were less common in women who had high "fertility diet" scores, which comprised more vegetable protein than animal protein.

Red and processed meats can be substituted with plant-based proteins like:

  1. seitan
  2. Tofu
  3. Tempeh
  4. Beans
  5. Peas
  6. Lentils

Decreased fertility in both men and women may be linked to eating red and processed meats as well as eating a lot of animal protein overall. Some of these may boost fertility if they are replaced with plant-based proteins.

2. Highly processed carbs

Some studies link somewhat decreased fertility in some people to diets heavy in ultra-processed carbs, especially foods with a high glycemic index (GI). When the diet is also deficient in fiber and high in added sugar, this connection seems greater.

When a food has a high GI, it causes your blood sugar to jump more dramatically after you eat it than when a food has a low GI.

White loaves of bread and kinds of pasta, white crackers, sweets, baked goods, and other more processed packaged snack meals are some examples of high GI foods.

Bear in mind that having a high GI doesn't necessarily have a negative impact on fertility. These foods are more likely to harm fertility because of their high added sugar content and low fiber content.

According to one study, switching to lower GI foods may help increase female fertility. Whole grains and specific vegetables that are typical of a Mediterranean diet were among these lower GI meals.

Once more, the benefits are probably due to the combination of a low GI diet, more fiber, and less added sugar consumption. A high-fiber diet has been linked to a reduction in the risk of female ovulatory infertility in several studies.

Particularly high in fiber are foods like:

  1. Whole fruits and vegetables
  2. Nuts and seeds
  3. Whole grains, such as 100% whole wheat loaves of bread and portions of pasta

However, some research indicates that a very high-fiber diet lowers estrogen levels and raises the likelihood of ovulation failure.

Replace white loaves of bread and portions of pasta with whole-grain varieties if you consume a diet low in fiber. For instance, use 100% whole wheat bread in place of white bread and substitute grains like quinoa, amaranth, millet, oats, and barley for white rice in some dishes.

White loaves of bread and kinds of pasta, highly processed carbohydrates, and other low-fiber processed meals may impair fertility in some individuals. If you don't currently consume them, try increasing your intake of whole grains and high-fiber foods.

3. Baked products

Pastries, donuts, and cakes that have been baked can contain a lot of trans and saturated fats, especially if they have been fried or contain margarine. Consuming these lipids is linked to less favorable reproductive results.

When producers partially hydrogenate vegetable oils to make them solid at room temperature, Trans fats are created.

Despite the fact that Trans fats will be completely outlawed from the food supply as of January 2021, items with less than 0.5 grams of Trans fat per serving can still bear the label "free of trans fats."

Fertility issues have been associated with diets low in unsaturated fats and high in trans fats. This is especially true for diets where trans fats account for more than 1% of total calories.

Research has also revealed that trans-fat consumption is linked to a 73% increased incidence of ovulatory problems, which can result in infertility, compared to healthy carb-containing diets.

All things considered, diets that prioritize monounsaturated fats over trans fats are linked to superior reproductive results.

Monounsaturated fatty acid sources include:

  1. Avocados
  2. Olive oil
  3. Nuts
  4. Seeds

Trace levels of trans fats, which are linked to lower fertility, may be present in baked products, various fried, highly processed sweets, and other foods. Instead, think about selecting more beneficial carbs and monounsaturated fat sources.

4. Beverages with processed sugar

One study looked at the reproductive consequences of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages for periods of up to 12 menstrual cycles among 3,828 females aged 21 to 45 and 1,045 of their male partners who were planning pregnancies.

Researchers discovered that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages—defined as having at least 7 drinks per week—reduced fertility in both males and females.

Compared to diet sodas and fruit juice, which revealed no discernible relationship with fertility, sugar-sweetened sodas and energy drinks had the worst impact.

Another study discovered that women's overall numbers of mature and fertilized eggs and high-quality embryos were lower when they drank more sugary beverages.

This appeared to have a stronger negative effect on fertility than caffeinated beverages without added sugar and was irrespective of the amount of caffeine present.

In a 2012 study, 3,628 Danish women were examined to assess the impact of soda and caffeinated beverage consumption on the timing of intended pregnancies.

Intake of caffeine, whether measured as at least 300 mg daily or as three cups of coffee, had minimal impact on fertility, according to the authors.

High use of sugar-sweetened beverages, particularly soda, has been associated with decreased fertility. Instead, try plain water or unsweetened seltzer.

5. Specific dairy products

Dairy fat appears to have sex-specific reproductive effects.

While full-fat dairy is linked to the opposite impact, low-fat and skim dairy products may help men become fertile. In several studies, a higher overall dairy product intake—including cheese and milk—has been linked to decreased semen quality.

Whole milk may be linked to better female fertility, while low-fat dairy products may be ideal for promoting male fertility.

According to a 2007 study, high-fat dairy products were linked to a lower risk of infertility caused by a lack of ovulation, whereas low-fat dairy products were linked to an increased risk.

Compared to women who consumed full-fat dairy products less frequently, at about once a week, they had a 25% decreased risk of fertility problems related to ovulatory disorders.

Furthermore, compared to women who consumed low-fat dairy only once a week, those who consumed more than two servings per day were 85% more likely to have infertility due to a lack of ovulation.

Methodology data suggests that some full-fat dairy consumption may boost female fertility, while low-fat dairy or no dairy may be better for male fertility. However, further research is required to fully understand the relationship between dairy consumption and fertility.

Alternatively, you might eliminate dairy and substitute it with a variety of plant-based milk, cheese, and dairy products that have different fat contents.

In contrast to the potential benefits of low-fat or no dairy for male fertility, full-fat dairy may be advantageous for female fertility. The effects of dairy products on fertility in certain sexes require further study.

The conclusion

Numerous variables are probably involved in infertility, which affects many people. According to research, nutrition significantly affects both men's and women's fertility.

It may be good for reproductive health to stay away from red and processed meats, ultra-processed carbohydrates, sugary drinks, and some dairy items, according to the evidence.

Additionally, it is a good idea to adopt healthy lifestyle practices. Getting enough sleep, working out, quitting smoking, and managing stress are all behaviors that may improve fertility.


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