Being a parent is almost everyone’s dream. It may be a life changing experience but it is what makes life beautiful. Listening to gurgling laughter and small pattering feet, health-melting hugs and kisses, and those tantrums, drama and scraped knees are moments that we treasure.
However, there are couples who find it hard to have children. The most common reason for infertility in men is due to poor sperm count known as oligospermia. In women, the most common is due to a hormone condition called Polycystic Ovarian Disorder or PCOD.
Our modern medicine have plenty of medical treatments to childless couples such as fertility drugs, IUF, IVF, and may be surrogacy. But medicine also acknowledges the significance of good diet and healthy lifestyle to improve fertility.
Results of the study conducted by the Harvard Medical School, aside from factors beyond our control like age and genetics, we can regulate some foods and avoid several foods to help improve ovulatory functions. Based on that study, here are recommendations:
Eat more protein from plant sources such as beans and reduce your red meat intake. Protein from plant sources such as nuts, beans, seeds, and tofu are rich in healthy fats and low in calories. They are helpful to lose weight.
Take more complex (“slow”) carbohydrates and restrict on eating processed foods.
Carbohydrates that contain fiber are digested slowly and have more gradual effect on blood sugar and insulin. Studies conducted show that high insulin levels may inhibit ovulation. Good carbs from vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and beans are highly recommended. Bad carbs like cakes, white rice, cookies, and white bread digest easily and transforms them to blood sugar.
Take one or a couple servings of whole milk or other full-fat dairy foods like yogurt everyday and less of the non- and low- fat dairy products. Walter Willett, MD, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in Harvard School of Public Health says, “We found that the more low-fat dairy products in a woman’s diet, the more trouble she had getting pregnant.”
Shun away all trans fats and eat more healthy unsaturated fats. Trans fats increase insulin resistance. Insulin helps bring glucose to the cells and pancreas helps pump out more insulin, thus, it brings more insulin to your bloodstream. High insulin can cause metabolic disturbances that can affect ovulation. Trans fats are generally found in commercial baked and snack foods, animal products, some margarines, and french fries.
Drink tea and coffee and avoid completely sugary beverages.
Maintain healthy “fertility zone” which is a BMI of between 18.5 and 24. BMI of less than 18.5 is considered too thin and BMI of 25 and more is considered as overweight. Being too thin and overweight can significantly affect your fertility and your child’s health.
Take multivitamins every day that have at least 400 micrograms of folic acid and between 40 and 80 mg of iron. The Harvard study result shows that women-participants who took multivitamins every day with 400 micrograms of folic acid were 40% less likely to have ovulatory infertility over the women who did not. It is still best to consult your doctor.
Exercises at least 30 to 60 minutes to maintain healthy weight. The benefits last a lifetime.
Good eating habits and healthy lifestyle are proven factors to help improve fertility in men and women. However, since each of us is unique and “one size does not fit all,” it is still recommended to consult with your doctor and allow them to guide you as a couple to the best way to have children.