January 11, 2019

How Does Nutrition Directly Relate to Reproduction?

How Does Nutrition Directly Relate to Reproduction?

We are what we eat and do and probably, and most importantly, we are what we don’t eat and don’t do. But how does nutrition directly relate to reproduction, particularly in our current environment? Benefits from the diet are seen in nutritive forms – folic acid, vitamin D. Also, we must think of the classes of macronutrients that afford benefit – whole grains, proteins and fatty acids (the omega oils).

The non-nutritive components of our diet relate to environmental and chemical exposures.  Examples include pesticides on our whole grains, mercury found in our fish and the BPAs found in plastics and tins (endocrine disruptor class). 

Reproduction can be harnessed but never controlled. It makes sense that many women and couples attempt to maximize benefit of nutrition and exercise. For our lives and quality of lives, it is crucial. But what remains in question is if there is any additional benefit to supplementing diets already adequate in the micronutrients. 

Folic acid supplementation of grains has been the “bread and butter” of governmental oversight into nutrition. Since flour supplementation with folic acid, the rate of neural tube defects has decreased. There is clear cause and effect. Additionally, there is strong evidence that the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (and the reduction of animal fats) may shorten the course to pregnancy and improve outcomes.

The toxic non-nutritive sources are inescapable. If not sprayed upon our food, then present in water, air and soil. These compounds can accumulate in fat and in bone. Our body has a fail-safe for toxins (liver and kidneys) and sequestering them in bone and fat. It may be a protection mechanism for the here and now, dealing with the cumulative effects later. These later effects may be reproductive, cancers and chronic inflammatory diseases.

With science and time teasing out truth, perhaps it is crucial to remember we literally are what we eat and good practices will assist in good health and reproductive health.

If you have questions about eating right for your fertility, please contact us.

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Danielle Vitiello, Ph.D., M.D. Board-Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility