I love guest posts on the Vitality Guide for Women; especially when they’re super informative. So this week, while I’m off gallivanting around Chicago, in celebration of my twenty seventh birthday, I’m happy to present to you some amazing guest features.
A Woman’s Guide to Fertility
If you are currently trying to conceive, it may be helpful to know that there is research out there that supports the notion that eating a particular diet could increase your chances of getting pregnant.
According to a 2007 study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, women with ovulatory disorders who followed a healthy diet and exercised on a regular basis experienced an increase in fertility.
The diet these women followed consisted of an increased intake of monounsaturated fats, vegetable protein, fiber and high-fat dairy products, and a decreased intake of trans fats, animal protein and refined carbohydrates and sugars.
Consequently, the women ate a diet that was primarily made up of olive oil, soy, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, whole milk and cheese. The women did not completely cut out animal protein from their diet. They only decreased the amount. They also did not consume an absurd amount of high-fat dairy. They only replaced the popular low fat dairy diet (skim milk,skim cheese) with whole fat products at smaller portions.
If this sounds like a regular balanced diet to you, it’s because that is exactly what it is. In fact, many nutritionists and dieticians say that the only thing this study proves is that a healthy lifestyle (made up of a balanced diet and plenty of exercise) is what helped the participants increase their fertility, not a special diet. In fact, it is true that a well-balanced diet, healthy weight and regular physical activity help support the function of our bodily systems, including the reproductive system.
However, in addition to this study, there are also other studies out there that give evidence to support that foods high in zinc can also increase fertility in women (and in men, also). Some experts believe that getting at least 15 mg of zinc per day could help promote cell division, a process that is vital in the early stages of conception and embryo development. Foods that contain high amounts of zinc include oysters, chicken, beef, crab and turkey. Most daily multivitamins also contain exactly 15 mg of zinc. Keep in mind that eating too much of anything is not a good thing, so don’t believe that downing 30 oysters a day will help you get pregnant. That could actually make you very sick and decrease your chances of conceiving.
All studies that support eating a particular diet or food for increased fertility are still too inconclusive to call completely true. However, it is 100% true that women who are overweight or underweight often have trouble getting pregnant. Both types of weight issues can cause ovulatory dysfunction, and women who are too skinny can experience a cease in their menstrual cycle.
This fact supports the idea that diet can affect fertility. However, it does not necessarily support that women must eat a particular diet consisting of certain “fertility foods.” In fact, it merely suggests what has already been stated; that a lifestyle consisting of a healthy diet and weight and regular exercise will optimize the function of all bodily systems, including fertility.
As you try to get pregnant, follow a balanced diet, exercise regularly, decrease your alcohol intake and don’t smoke. According to The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, if you don’t get pregnant after 12 months of regular, unprotected sex (or six months if you are over 35), you and your partner should seek help from a fertility specialist.
For more information about fertility and pregnancy, consult your OBGYN.
Alvina Lopez, a freelance writer who also volunteers at her local literacy organization, is passionate about education trends and reform. When not writing or teaching, Alvina loves cooking, walking her dog and enjoying the great outdoors. She welcomes questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.