Have you been trying to have a baby for at least a year? Are you over the age of 35? If you answered yes to those questions, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other medical professionals recommend you have a visit with a reproductive specialist to help identify what might be getting in your way.
In the meantime, my next two columns provide some recommendations based on observational data from the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study (one of the most comprehensive, long-term studies ever conducted), which may help prevent and reverse some infertility problems.
Adopting all of the recommendations won’t guarantee a pregnancy, of course, but it will increase the odds of conceiving and will set the stage for a healthy pregnancy. Furthermore, for most everyone, adopting these changes over the long-term will benefit your heart, brain, and the rest of your body. This week we start with the three main dietary recommendations. Check back next week for four more important nutrition tips if you are thinking of getting pregnant.
1.) Avoid trans fats in commercially prepared products and fast foods.
Choose foods made with non-hydrogenated vegetable oils and opt for unsaturated fats (such as olive or canola oil) over saturated fats. What is the fat-fertility connection? Fats can have powerful biological effects such as turning genes on or off, revving up or calming inflammation, and influencing cell function. Unsaturated fats do things to improve fertility (like increase insulin sensitivity and cool inflammation)—the opposite of what trans fats do.
Bottom line: read food labels, and, when eating out, steer clear of fried foods.
2.) Eat more vegetable protein and less animal protein.
Plant proteins (like that from beans and nuts) are somehow different from animal proteins, and it is starting to look like the whole protein “package” may be most important. Ovulation infertility was 39 percent more likely in women with the highest intake of animal protein than in those with the lowest. Replacing 25 grams of animal protein with 25 grams of plant protein was related to a 50 percent lower risk of ovulatory infertility.
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