How Diet Can Affect Your Fertility

Feb 03, 2010
Many men and women know about the importance of healthy eating when trying to conceive and during pregnancy.

However, some healthy eating habits can be harmful for your fertility and make it hard for you to conceive. What foods should you avoid or limit their intake if you are trying to conceive?

Fiber and Fertility

In the last few decades we have learned that high-fiber foods are good for our health and you should include fiber in your diet if you want to get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy.

Yet the recent research by US scientists suggests that too much fiber can lead to fertility problems. According to the results of the study, women, who ate high fiber diet, had the lowest levels of estrogen and other hormones important for conception. These women also were more likely to have anovulatory menstrual cycles.

The current recommendations say that adults need 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily. Fiber can be found in such foods as grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Women, who ate more than 22 grams of fiber per day, had at least one cycle with anovulation in two months, one of the main causes of infertility.

It is known that anovulation can be caused by various factors, such as excessive or insufficient weight, thyroid disorders, polycystic ovarian syndrome and others. Now, it seems that dietary habits can also lead to ovulation problems.

The findings of the study also found that women, who had high-fiber diet, including fiber from fruit, had lower levels of estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. These hormones play a significant part in reproductive health and for conception. Scientists explain that fiber lowers the activity of intestinal enzymes, which decreases absorption of the hormones in the colon and leads to their excessive excretion from the body.

The study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition points out that women, who are trying to conceive may need to eat less fiber than it is recommended by the guidance.

Low-Fat Dairy and Fertility

While many specialists recommend substituting high-fat dairy products with low-fat to avoid heart disease and other conditions, another study from Harvard School of Public Health revealed that low-fat is not so good, if you are trying to get pregnant.

The study followed more than 18,500 women aged between 24 and 42, who were trying to conceive. The findings of the study showed that women, who ate more than two servings of low-fat dairy products a day, were 85 percent more likely to have anovulatory cycles, while women who preferred full-fat dairy foods had 25 percent lower risk of developing ovulatory problems.

Scientists say that full-fat dairy products contain fat-soluble ingredients, which boost the functioning of the ovaries. This substance is absent in low-fat dairy products, which may explain the ovulation problems in women, who eat low-fat dairy.

Specialists recommend that women, who are trying to conceive, should change their dietary habits and switch to high-fat dairy products, such as ice-cream or whole milk.

Soy Products and Fertility

Soy products are popular among vegetarians and others, who want to include more of non-animal proteins in their diet. However, soy products were linked to reduced fertility by UK scientists from King's College London. The study has found that too much of soy products can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant.

The genistein compound found in soy damages sperm as it travels towards the egg and this prevents fertilization. Soy products such as soy milk, tofu, some beans and some pre-packed meals contain genistein. The compound seems to activate the production of a molecule that prevents sperm from fertilizing the egg.

Specialists suggest that women should avoid too much soy foods, especially during women's most fertile days, prior and during the ovulation. This will increase couple's chances for conception.