Ask Our Experts: Diets and Pregnancies
Do diets affect the chances of getting pregnant? Are there foods that would boost fertility? What should I eat and don’t eat when I am trying to conceive?
Globally, infertility is getting more common for various environmental and lifestyle reasons. While couples can’t control all of the causes of infertility, they can control their diet. Diet and weight management can have significant impact on the ability to conceive for most people.
A proper diet can increase the success rate of getting pregnant and ensure lesser complications while conceiving. In under privileged countries, malnourished moms have higher chances of infertility and miscarriages. These moms, or in our local society, teenage moms or undernourished moms, may develop more complications in pregnancies such as premature delivery or still birth.
Among Asians, we have many young mothers who are underweight and who have a body mass index of below 19. These ladies might not be ovulating on schedule due to hormonal imbalance hence missing the target when they try to conceive.
On the flip side, overweight or obese partners, both men and women, are facing a higher chance of infertility. Data available in the US showed that 30% of infertility cases are due to hogging on too much weight. Being overweight affects the timing of ovulation and the quality of active and alive sperms. Losing weight, especially through regular moderate exercise, appears to be a good measure to increase likelihood of conception among them.
Women who have ovulatory infertility should try to get enough iron in their diet. It’s advisable to take iron-rich foods including all types of beans, eggs, lentils, spinach, fortified cereals, long-grain enriched rice and whole grains. Vitamin C from fresh citrus fruits, guavas or mangoes can further enhance iron absorption.
Monounsaturated fats like olive oil or avocado (rather than trans fats like those found in normal margarine) can be used as a spread for meals or snacks. For women with diabetes, making full use of healthy fats to achieve caloric need and fullness is especially important.
Beans and lentils instead of red meat or other animal sources may be beneficial for those trying to conceive. These foods are higher in phytochemicals and fibre content and lesser in unhealthy fats and oxidants, while giving you enough protein for you to prepare for your baby. Men too, who eat lesser red meat may have higher chances of producing healthy sperms.
Whole grain like oatmeal, barley, brown rice or atta flour rather than polished simple carbohydrates found in white rice, white bread, Man Tou (Chinese bun) or white flour should be taken during most meals of the day. This heightens your chance for fertility by another notch.
Eating full fat dairy products instead of low fat ones, for some unclear reason, is associated with a higher chance of conceiving a baby. Taking 1 to 2 servings of dairy for calcium without having to worry about its fat content may be advisable for you now.
Multivitamin and Vitamin Supplements
For those of you who eat out often or are too busy to prepare healthy meals, it’s advisable to take your multivitamin (at least six times per week) consistently. Also, do not forget folate supplements that may have been prescribed to you by your gynaecologist.
Other Lifestyle Changes
For men and women, staying away from cigarettes and alcohol offers a better chance in conceiving a child. As the effect of a healthy lifestyle is greater before you are trying to conceive than while you are preparing to have a baby, start sooner rather than later for its optimal and prolonged benefits.