I was really lucky to be featured in a weekend magazine recently. They did an amazing story talking about my struggles to become a mum and the importance of overall health on fertility. One thing that was left out of the article was that I did a fertility treatment (ovulation induction) in order to get pregnant with my baby girl. This isn’t not something that I’m trying to hide and I’m certainly not advocating a ‘just do this one thing and you’ll be fine’ message. There is already too much of that in our society at the moment (and please tread with caution when you see those claims).
What I am advocating is that regardless of the journey you are on, you will always always always make your path smoother when you are nourishing your body, mind and soul.
There seems to be a misconception that you either need to overhaul your diet and lifestyle to improve your fertility or you go down the IVF/assisted route. This is a pretty narrow and unrealistic view.
Diet and lifestyle are still just as important (some may argue even more so) if you decide to try IVF or another Assisted Reproductive Therapy (ART). Lifestyle factors like cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and nutritional habits impact egg production, fertilisation rates, pregnancy and pregnancy loss, as well as the long-term health of your future baby.
Lots of studies have been done to show this link. For example, women with higher Vitamin D levels were four times more likely to conceive through IVF than those with lower levels. So if you are TTC during the winter or spring months, make sure you get your levels checked and think about increasing intake of oily fish or supplementation.[i]
Similarly, high protein, lower carb diets have been shown to improve fertility according to one study of 120 women undergoing IVF. Consuming at least 25% protein and no more than 40% carbs before and during treatment showed a significant improvement in the pregnancy rate (67% achieved pregnancy in the high protein group vs 32% in the low protein group)[ii].
A Dutch study looked at the main food groups and gave participants one point for each group where they met the recommended intake – that is where they were using healthy fats, 2+ serves of fruit, 200g of vegetables, and 4 serves of quality whole grains each day, plus at least 1 serve of fish and 3 serves of meat each week – this gave them a score out of six. For every point increase in diet score, they saw a 65% increase in chances of achieving an ongoing pregnancy. [iii]
Think about that in terms of the number of rounds of treatment you may need to have! You really can save months of trying, your hard earned dollars and the associated heartache of multiple cycles, just by making changes to your diet and lifestyle. Not to mention the positive impact you will have on your bubba’s DNA and lifetime health.
This is exactly the type of research that has gone into developing the Wholesome Inc. Preconception Program. It is not a magic bullet. It is not just for natural fertility. It is to support all us mums and mums-to-be to have a glowing pregnancy and raise beautiful, healthy babes.
Ancient Indian scriptures agree that medicine and nutrition go hand in hand. It says that if dietetics is followed, medicine is not needed; and if dietetics is not followed, not even medicines are useful.
[i] Ozkan S, Jindal S, Greenseid K, Shu J, Zeitlian G, Hickmon C, Pal L. Replete vitamin D stores predict reproductive success following in vitro fertilization. Fertility and Sterility, 2010;94(4):1314-9.
[ii] ACOG, High Protein, Low Carb Diets Greatly Improve Fertility, American College of Obstetricians and Gynocologists, 2013.
[iii] Vujkovic, M. The preconception Mediterranean dietary pattern in couples undergoing in vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection treatment increases the chance of pregnancy. Fertility and Sterility, 2010.