22 Nov Nutrition and Fertility: Why What You Eat Matters
According to statistics, over 15% of couples in America are affected by infertility. The inability to conceive has a significant negative physical, emotional, and psychosocial impact on these couples. And although infertility is usually associated with issues relating to women, in over 25% of cases, male physiological factors are responsible.
Despite recent technological and medical advancements, incidents of infertility have remained quite high. Significant research has been conducted to identify the factors that are responsible for difficulty during conception and poor fetal development. Much of this research is aimed at nutrition and diet, which are a major influence on fertility in both men and women.
Female Fertility and Nutrition
Fertility issues are more common in women. It occurs due to several issues, such as hormonal imbalances, advanced age, and health issues such as endometriosis, fibroids, and cysts. Researchers have also found that unhealthy eating habits such as excessive sugar consumption or eating foods that contain preservatives can lead to issues with fertility.
Foods that impact fertility
According to Harvard Medical School, certain vitamins and minerals have been linked to positive effects on fertility. These include:
- Folic Acid –Can be found in leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, bread, cereals, and pasta.
- Vitamin B12 –Naturally found in meat, fish, poultry, milk, eggs, and milk products.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids –Seafood—especially cold-water fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, and tuna—contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Other foods include seeds and nuts such as flaxseed and walnuts.
Dairy products, caffeine, vitamin D, and foods that are rich in anti-oxidants have little to no effects on fertility. However, too much alcohol and caffeine have been linked to increased risk of miscarriage in some studies.
Unhealthy diets, especially those that contain high amounts of trans fats, experience significant negative effects on fertility and chances of conceiving. Processed meats, sweetened beverages, potatoes, and sweets can affect fertility in both men and women.
It goes without saying, but a healthy diet is essential for both getting pregnant and healthy fetal development. Women who wish to get pregnant are recommended to increase their folic acid intake at least a couple of months before trying. Folic acid supplements are highly effective in reducing the risk of neurologic problems during the development of the fetus.
Another key takeaway is the effect of weight on fertility. Over-weight and obese women face increased difficulty in getting pregnant. Similarly, underweight women can face issues during conception and also run the risk of poor fetal development.
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