If you’re hoping to get pregnant, changes to your diet could boost the fertility of both you and your partner and to give you the best possible chance of conceiving.
For men, research has shown that dietary changes that can improve the quality of semen include eating a diet rich in carbohydrates, fibre, folate (folic acid) and vegetables, and reducing consumption of protein and fats. Antioxidants, which help clean up free radicals in the body, can also play a role in improving the quality of sperm.
For women, diet can have a significant impact on fertility, particularly ovulation. Choosing mono-unsaturated fats (‘good fats’ that are typically liquid at room temperature but turn to solids when chilled, such as olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil and sesame oil) rather than trans fats (animal and dairy fats as well as artificial trans fats) has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of ovulatory infertility. Consuming trans fats rather than carbohydrates has also been shown to increase ovulatory disorder, as has replacing carbohydrates with animal protein. However, replacing carbohydrates with vegetable protein can be beneficial.
Appropriate multivitamins and supplements can also significantly boost your fertility. A survey of 438 women with infertility caused by ovulatory disorder found that their infertility was reduced the more vitamins and supplements they took a week, with those taking six or more tablets a week showing the greatest improvement.
Putting all these factors together will lead to the greatest benefits. A study of more than 17, 500 women who were all trying to get pregnant, carried out over 8 years, found that those who most closely followed an established ‘fertility diet’, were least likely to have ovulatory disorder infertility. The diet included higher consumption of monounsaturated rather than trans fats, vegetable rather than animal protein sources, low glycaemic carbohydrates, high-fat dairy, multivitamins, and iron from plants and supplements. The researchers concluded that following this diet may increase fertility among otherwise healthy women.