Hello and Welcome to my latest blog!
My name is Jen, I’m the Accredited Practising Dietitian here at DCNMC! Today we are talking about how to optimise your IVF + Fertility journey through diet, food and nutrition. Trigger warning: There is a small discussion on miscarriage and weight, although it is purely to give you information on optimising your fertility.
I want to stress that there needs to be an all-inclusive approach taken to IVF, fertility and Pregnancy and in this I cover some but not all aspects. This means considering your lifestyle factors that may involve your Environmental space (work, home, community), Nutrition (consumables), Physical activity (exercise, sleep, unintentional movement, pain), Emotional states (stress, love, mental health). I will be focusing on what nutrition can do, and I believe this has an on-flow effect into all of these 4 areas of life.
When undergoing IVF, it’s important to have your body in the best possible shape to increase the chances of success. Diet plays a critical role in this process. A Tailored nutrition apporach is the ideal way to ensure you’re following the best options for you.
This approach will encourage you to consider:
- Getting a blood test to check your nutritional markers.
- Start taking the appropriate nutritional supplements. – with guidance from health professionals
- Manage any pre-existing conditions that you may have. -Dietitian can assist with this.
- Manage your nutritional intake, physical activity and stress. – Dietitian will assist with this.
Diet & Food Reccommendation from your Dietitian
Eating a nutritious diet in the lead up to conception can boost your chances of conception in IVF by providing your body with the necessary nutrients to support reproductive health and the development of a healthy fetus. As mentioned, a dietitian will look at your blood tests and other medical conditions and will make relevant recommendaions based on that.
It’s easy to tell you what you need to do and the nutrients you need in your diet but how do you implement that into your everyday food intake?
To optimize dietary conditions for IVF, it’s recommended to:
- Eat a balanced diet: Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet to ensure that you’re getting all the necessary nutrients.
- Avoid processed foods: Processed foods are often high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, which can negatively impact reproductive health.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol: Excessive intake of caffeine and alcohol can negatively impact fertility.
- Avoid smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke as it can negatively impact the chances of successful IVF.
- Optimise your supplementation. Use the most bio-available forms and don’t take too much!
There are several food strategies that can help you to achieve these dietary recommendations:
Adequate protein intake: Consuming adequate amounts of protein can help support the production of hormones and eggs. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, and legumes. You need ~0.8g of protein per Kg of body weight. This means if you’re 75kg you need 60g of protein per day. You would get 60g of protein from ~200g of cooked chicken breast. It’s important to note that this increases to 1.0-1.5 for people trying to conceive that have a chronic disease and also once pregnant.
Healthy fats: Eating foods that are rich in healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, salmon and seafood, and using extra virgin olive oil can help support hormone production and improve egg quality. It’s easier to avoid unnecessary consumption of fats by cooking at home and preparing your own meals for each meal. This can be daunting for the busy family of today, so using quick ready-made meals that are nutritious is fine! Learn how to read nutrition labels to find out what a nutritious meal looks like.
Complex carbohydrates: Choosing complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can help regulate blood sugar levels, which can be important for fertility. People always tell me they don’t understand the “low GI” label, I’m telling, you don’t need to! Yes, it’s a bit over used but just use it as a way to choose the right grains, breads, and foods. Choose breads that have the Low GI label. Choose rice like clever rice, brown rice, basmati rice, wild and black rice. Choose wholegrain pastas.
Iron-rich foods: Consuming foods that are high in iron, such as leafy green vegetables, red meat, and fortified cereals, can help support a healthy menstrual cycle. Iron rich foods should also be eaten with citrus foods for the vitamin-c that helps Iron absorption. Many women are low in iron and will need to supplement, but it’s still important to optimise our intake through your diet.
Folic acid-rich foods: Consuming foods that are high in folic acid, such as leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and fortified cereals, can help reduce the risk of birth defects. Folic acid is rarely on nutrition labels, but when it is its usually fortified. There is nothing wrong with this process, other than it’s likely that you’re eating a highly processed food. It was found that the Australian diet was so low in folic acid that the best solution was to fortify it into “common” foods. If you’re trying not to eat processed foods or you eat gluten free breads then try getting your folic acid from veggies like edamame, dark leafy greens, beans and legumes.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Consuming foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish (salmon, herring), chia seeds, and flaxseeds, can help improve egg quality and support ovulation.
Antioxidant-rich foods: Eating foods that are high in antioxidants, such as berries, leafy greens, and nuts, can help protect eggs and sperm from damage caused by free radicals. There is not cap or limit to how many antioxidants you need, the healthy eating guides recommend 2 serves of fruit per day. A serve of fruits is that which fits into the palm of your hand. So 10-15 berries OR 1 apple OR 2 apricots etc.
Some of the necessary nutrients that can support reproductive health and the development of a healthy fetus include:
- Folic acid: This is important for the development of the fetus’s brain and spinal cord.
- Iron: This is important for the production of red blood cells and the transfer of oxygen to the fetus.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: These are important for the development of the fetus’s brain and eyes.
- Calcium and Vitamin D: These are important for the development of the fetus’s bones and teeth.
- Vitamin C: This is important for the formation of the fetus’s connective tissue.
- Vitamin B12: This is important for the development of the fetus’s nervous system.
- Protein: This is important for the growth and development of the fetus.
These nutrients can come from the food you eat in your diet or supplementation.If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, supplementation is reccommended and will be discussed in your consultation with me.
As you can tell there are plenty of nutrients to consider for IVF and fertility. Sessions with me involve learning about these foods, and discussing ways you can introduce them into your diet with out it causing you more stress. We will build your goals and create a nutrition plan for your journey.
If you’re interested in booking a session with me, please do so HERE
If you’re keen to get started check out this free resource HERE
This blog has been written by Jen Darnell Accredited Practising Dietitian
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