diet

Your diet and menopause

Diet, vitamins and menopause: Princeton IVF blog
menopause-diet-excercise.jpg

Can what you eat affect when you go into menopause?

New research from the UK suggests that it might.

They followed 914 women through menopause and sent them questionnaires about their diets, and what they found was interesting:

  • Fatty and oily fish delayed the age of menopause by 3.3 years for each daily portion

  • Fresh legumes delayed onset of menopause by 0.9 years for each daily portion

  • Refined pastas and rice was accelerated the age of menopause 1.5 years for each daily portion

They also asked these women about daily vitamin intake:

  • Vitamin B6 delayed menopause by 0.6 years

  • Zinc delayed menopause by 0.3 years per daily portion

Does this mean that making the right dietary choices can affect when one will go through menopause?

Perhaps, but not necessarily. Women who eat healthier may also live healthier lifestyles which could contribute to this as well.

Does this mean that these dietary choices can effect how long a woman will remain fertile?

While it certainly makes sense that dietary changes which delay when a woman runs out eggs should affect the quality of the ones that are left, this research does not address that issue.

The Golden Arches and your Fertility

Fast food and time to conceive: Princeton IVF blog
Eating too much fast food may cause infertility

Can eating too much fast food be making it harder to get pregnant?

New research suggest that eating too much fast processed food may actually lower your chances of getting pregnant, or at least delay the time to conception.

Researchers in Australia decided look at how long it took women to conceive and compared that to how many times a week they consumed fast food and how many times a week they ate fruit. They found that women who had fast food more than 4 times a week took longer to get pregnant than those who had it 2-4 times a week, who in turn took longer than those who did not consume fast food. The exact opposite was true with eating fruit. Those women who ate fruit regularly got pregnant faster than those who did not. Interestingly, green leafy vegetables and fish conception did not speed up the time to conception.

So, what does this mean if I am trying to get pregnant.

Lay off the fast food.

Despite, the title of this post, in all fairness to McDonald’s, this is not unique to to the golden arches or any other hamburger joints. This also applies to fried chicken from the Colonel, the forth meal at Taco Bell, the greasy Chinese food place at the mall and any number of fast food restaurants. Processed, high calorie, high salt, high carbohydrate food may taste good and be quick and convenient, but it may make it harder to get pregnant. They are also not great for your health or the baby’s.

Eat whole foods.

That does not mean go to one of Amazon Inc.’s high priced supermarkets. It means avoiding processed foods, like those that are served at fast food places.

Eat fruit.

Your grandmother was right. Most fruits are good for your fertility and health.

Green leafy vegetables are still good for your pregnancy.

Even if this study did not show a benefit to speeding up the time to conception, the folic acid in these veggies can help reduce your baby’s risk of birth defects such as spina bifida.

The oils in fish is also good for your pregnancy and it may reduce the rates of some complications.

Many prenatal vitamins contain fish oils. Just be wary of getting too much mercury from large ocean fish.

The mediterranean diet and fertility

Mediterranean diet and fertility: Princeton IVF blog
paleo-diet-fertility.jpg

As a fertility specialist, one of the most common questions I get is about diet, what can changes can I make in my diet to help me get pregnant?

For some patients, particularly those with PCOS that answer is relatively simple. It well know that a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates helps women with polycystic ovaries to conceive. 

For other women with infertility, the answer is less clear.

A recent study from Greece, looked at women who self-reported at following a "mediterranean diet." Women on a Mediterranean diet had a higher pregnancy rate that those who did not.

Does this prove that a diet in low in animal fats and high in vegetables and fruit can help you get pregnant? No, but it does suggest a health diet low in carbs and red meats may help your chances of having a baby.

Soy and fertility

Are soy products good or bad for your fertility?

soy-fertility.jpg

Soy products such as soy milk and tofu are high in protein and have become popular for their reported health benefits. So, why the concern?It turns out that soy products also contain chemicals called phytoestrogens. These phytoestrogens are chemicals found in plants that look and act like estrogens, the "female" sex hormones that both women and men produce naturally.  It is commonly believed (but not universally accepted) that these phytoestrogens may have health benefits such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and taming the symptoms of menopause. One of the main concerns over the use of these "dietary supplements" is that if they act like estrogens, they may very well carry the the same risks as taking estrogen pills like Premarin and Estrace.

 So, how does this tie in with fertility issues? One of the key ingredients in birth control pills is a type of estrogen (commonly ethinyl estradiol) so it should come as no surprise there may that taking soy products could potentially be a problem for women attempting pregnancy.

With that in mind, researchers at Harvard's School of Public Health, looked at women undergoing IVF treatment to see if the use of soy products had any effect on the pregnancy rates. The results were somewhat surprising. IVF patients taking soy supplements were actually more likely to get pregnant. While the study was small and limited, and it is certainly to early to encourage women doing IVF to take in more soy products, it does appear to be reassuring for those trying to get pregnant and don't want to stop the soy milk and tofu.