Changing your nutritional habits, like changing any habit, will take time. The following are my top pointers for successful nutritional overhaul…
My top five nutritional tips for IVF success
- Make sure you’re both engaged in improving your diet. If you’re both on board with healthier eating choices, you’re more likely to sustain them.
- Manage your expectations: changing your diet doesn’t mean you’ll be pregnant within a week, a month or even three months. It means you’re doing the very best things you can do to optimise your fertility for IVF success.
- Ideally, a well-structured, well-balanced diet will even-out peaks and troughs in energy levels but, if you do have an energy dip, avoid reaching for unhealthy, refined sugar snacks. Instead drink a glass of water or have a piece of fruit or raw vegetable and include protein in the snack to help stabilise blood sugar, for example, try eating a portion of fruit and nuts.
- Improve your lifestyle: reduce your stress levels, spend time in moderate, gentle exercise, get outside as often as you can, manage your weight and improve your work–life balance. Remember that stress depletes the body of vital nutrients, so your lifestyle choices are key in optimising your nutrition.
- Focus on follicular fluid: it is important to ensure you are eating the right foods to make the fluid that surrounds and nourishes the egg as healthy as it can be. Vitamin D, Inositol and antioxidants are all key.
Foods to avoid for egg and sperm health
Of course, as well as boosting certain nutrients in your diet, for optimal nutrition there are certain foods, or foods from certain sources, that you need to avoid. These ‘avoids’ apply equally to both men and women. Cut the following from your diet:
- Trans fats (damaged fats often found in fried and processed foods), which damage cell membranes, increase inflammation and disrupt insulin function
- Alcohol (you should eliminate alcohol altogether during the pre-conception period – that means three months before you begin IVF treatment
- Fizzy drinks, which not only contain caffeine in many cases, but also high levels of refined sugar or sugar substitutes
- Refined carbohydrates, which means white bread, pasta and rice, as well as sugar in its refined forms
- Fish containing high levels of mercury, such as swordfish
- Foods containing high levels of omega-6 fatty acids – excess levels of these fats can promote inflammation
- Overheated oils: overheating some oils damages them and ‘feeds’ free radical damage in the body
- Low-fat or no-fat foods. Small amounts of full-fat dairy or other ‘fatty’ foods contain valuable sources of fat soluble vitamins and are generally better for your reproductive health than the flavour enhancers used to make fat-free products more palatable.