Diet plays a role in fertility, and there are several publications that show just how much a woman’s diet can affect her ability to become pregnant.
Research about Fertility and Diet
Results from the Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study suggest that the majority of infertility cases due to ovulation disorders are preventable through modifications of diet and lifestyle. This large study followed 17,544 women without a history of infertility for 8 years while they tried to become or became pregnant. Another study from Australia showed that fast food and less fruit in the diet decreased fertility.
Researchers say that a woman’s diet affects ovulation, and hypothesize that women with healthy insulin levels — the hormone that controls blood sugar — are more likely to ovulate normally. Those who have insulin resistance or diabetes are more prone to irregular ovulation.
In males, research has shown that semen quality in men improves with a “Prudent” diet (high intake of fish, chicken, fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains) as compared to a “Western” diet (high intake of red and processed meat, refined grains, pizza, snacks, high-energy drinks and sweets).
In addition to diet, research has also shown that less TV swatching and more moderate to vigorous activity were associated with better sperm counts.
The following was found in a review of studies between the relationship of diet and male fertility:
“..healthy diets rich in some nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, some antioxidants (vitamin E, vitamin C, β-carotene, selenium, zinc, cryptoxanthin and lycopene), other vitamins (vitamin D and folate) and low in saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids were inversely associated with low semen quality parameters. Fish, shellfish and seafood, poultry, cereals, vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy and skimmed milk were positively associated with several sperm quality parameters.”
“However, diets rich in processed meat, soy foods, potatoes, full-fat dairy and total dairy products, cheese, coffee, alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets have been detrimentally associated with the quality of semen in some studies. As far as fecundability is concerned, a high intake of alcohol, caffeine and red meat and processed meat by males has a negative influence on the chance of pregnancy or fertilization rates in their partners.”