A traditional Western-type diet composed of a high consumption of trans unsaturated fats, animal proteins and carbohydrates with a high sugar content has been associated with a risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. Insulin resistance is also increased and is implicated in ovulation dysfunction in women with PCOS and with infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss. A recent study from Spain (Fertil Steril 2011:96:1149-53) reported a much lower chance of infertility in women eating a Mediterranean-type diet compared to those eating a more typical Western-type diet. Investigators from the Netherlands have found that a preconception Mediterranean-type diet to be associated with a 40% increased probability of success in achieving pregnancy among couples having in vitro fertilization (Fertil Steril 2010:94:2096-101). These two studies provide evidence that the Mediterranean-type diet may be an efficient and healthy alternative means of enhancing fertility.
The key component of a Mediterranean-type diet is replacing animal proteins, trans unsaturated fats, sugar, and refined foods with primarily plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Simple measures you can do to potentially enhance your fertility include:
- Replacing butter with healthier fats like olive oil and canola oil;
- Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods;
- Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month;
- Eating fish and poultry at least two times a week; and
- Drinking red wine in moderation.
Choosing a healthy diet is one component of living a healthier life style that can minimize your risk for life threatening diseases and also enable you to eat for fertility.