What is the Best Diet for Fertility?
By Stefanie Valakas APD, BSci(Adv), MNutrDiet, Director of The Dietologist
1 in 6 couples trying to conceive, experience difficulties starting their family, and with health and nutrition on the agenda, we are seeing more women and couples turn to dietitians for nutrition advice to optimise their fertility.
As nutrition professionals, we know there is no one-size-fits-all approach to any group of patients, however, evidence is mounting in favour of one particular dietary pattern that can help support optimal fertility.
That is (unsurprisingly) the Mediterranean dietary pattern!
The foundations of the Mediterranean lifestyle are built of physical activity in daily life (such as walking, cooking, dancing and house chores) as well as social eating. From a nutrition perspective, the Mediterranean diet focuses on:
- An abundance of seasonal plant foods like vegetables, legumes and beans as well as wholegrains
- Extra virgin olive oil is the mainstay fat source
- Fruit 2-3 pieces per day, nature’s dessert!
- Eggs, poultry and fermented dairy (such as sheep’s or goat’s yoghurt and cheeses) are eaten in moderate portions
- Red meat and sweets are eaten rarely.
Evidence suggests that the Mediterranean style diet is beneficial for both men and women undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilisation).
A 2018 study conducted in a Greek fertility clinic found that among 225 men, a higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with improved sperm parameters including quality and quantity! (Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27994040)
The same clinic also looked at women’s fertility outcomes and showed women that followed the Mediterranean diet more closely were more likely to get pregnant with IVF and have a baby! (Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29390148)
And bonus, your patients will also receive the heart and mental health benefits of this dietary pattern too, which have been well-established in the research.
If you’re seeing a client that needs some help with their diet and lifestyle for conception or fertility treatments, give the Mediterranean approach a go!
Want to read more about evidence-based women’s health and fertility nutrition? Visit Stefanie’s blog at thedietologist.com.au