Monday, July 06, 2015

The Right Fuel to Fuel Fertility

As an IVF specialist, I  counsel a number of patients every week. Many come to our clinic for a second opinion or maybe even a third, while others have just set out on their IVF journey. Some patients are older (above 35 years of age) while others are in a younger age bracket. The one thing they have in common is their desire to have a child and most are very determined to try anything and everything to have the baby they long for.

And so, we work with a number of couples who are trying to conceive. Most have common fears and queries and many also ask whether there is any specific food or foods they can eat that will act as a magic remedy and help them get pregnant. But if getting pregnant was dependent merely on the type of foods you ate, the world would be a much happier place for couples who face infertility issues – and they would not need to come to an IVF specialist !

It is important to have a healthy diet , and not just in the short-term. It is essential that both partners make it a point to consume a  wholesome diet in the long-term. That is one of the ways of creating a healthy environment in the uterus  for the baby to develop. Studies indicate that a woman should ideally have a BMI in the 20-25 range to conceive. If you want to conceive, it is important to get in the appropriate (translate that to healthy) weight range. This is important not only for conception, but for a healthy pregnancy as well as the overall health of your child too.

The Food and Health Connect

Here is a simple guide on how to improve your chances of getting pregnant:

Forget about cutting sugar and carbs or trying the much-talked-about Paleo or any other fancy diet you have heard about. Instead  of cutting out any foods from your diet, focus  on boosting  it with various  nutrient-rich foods. Focus on the basics; and make changes which you will stick with. Find a diet which appeals to you !
Eat a lot of healthy portions of lean protein, plant foods, healthy fat as well as “smart carbs”. This simply means in every meal you should incorporate at least 50% of plant foods (a small portion of any fresh fruit and some non-starchy vegetables). Include at least a palm-sized serving of proteins (white meat/tofu/paneer) and only a quarter of a plate of brown rice/lentils/wholegrain bread/sweet potato. All these fall in the “smart carbs” category and don’t forget to add a bit of healthy fat- this gives your reproductive hormones a distinct  boost
Go easy on processed foods – all of these tend to be very high in saturated fats, sugar, salt and artificial sweeteners. Instead, think healthy and eat healthy  foods such as wholegrains and legumes as well as  dairy and lean meat
Make a concerted effort to consume more Omega 3 fatty acids. These help in the functioning of the sex glands and produce healthy sperm and eggs. Fish such as salmon is a good choice and so are flaxseed or chia seeds. The latter two can be added  to smoothies, porridge  or cereal
Zinc helps fertility, both in women as well as men. In women, it helps to mature eggs that are ready for fertilization; while in men it is required to create the outer membrane & tail of the sperm. Have pumpkin seeds, lamb or even beans, dairy products, grains, nuts and seeds. Zinc from various plant-based foods doesn’t get  absorbed as well as that from animal foods; thus vegetarians may have to consume up to 50% more zinc in order to meet their needs
It’s important that you consume smart carbs right through the day. Switch from all refined cereals and breads to wholegrain versions. Oats, sweet potato and wholegrain  bread is  the way  to go

Consuming a well-balanced diet that is rich in all the essential nutrients can increase your chances of getting pregnant. A lot of this is common sense , but hard to do in real life. However, I have observed that infertile couples are highly motivated, and are much more likely to succeed in improving their diet, once they decide to do so.  This is one of the beneficial side-effects of being infertile – that you start to improve your lifestyle!

Making healthier food choices will boost and enrich your diet and create a more conducive environment in your body for conception and also make a much healthier version of you, not just in the short-term, but for life!

Need more information about IVF treatments? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at so that I can guide you better!

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