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What is the Best Diet for Infertility?

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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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The best diet for infertility is made up of nutrient-rich foods from all of the food groups. Women and men who are having trouble conceiving should make sure that they are eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and dairy products every day. Water intake also matters, and six to eight glasses daily are advised. Doctors recommend that women take prenatal vitamins in addition to healthy eating and staying hydrated. It is impossible for most people to eat perfectly every day, and the vitamins will help to make up for any nutrients that are lacking.

Women who are actively trying to get pregnant should be mindful of foods that can decrease fertility. Care should be taken to limit over-processed foods, artificial sweeteners, soy, fish with high mercury content, and meat. There are animal studies showing that too much protein in the diet can reduce fertility by increasing ammonia levels but studies have not been done on humans. Since many sources of protein are also sources of iron, an essential mineral for fertility, women who want to conceive should continue to consume protein. Some experts recommend that some of the protein in the diet be from plant sources, instead of consuming only animal protein. Soybeans are typically considered a healthy source of plant protein for most people, but it lowers the levels of two hormones that are needed for ovulation to occur.

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Men who want to follow a diet for infertility can benefit from consuming the same nutrient-rich foods recommended for women. One of the most important minerals for male fertility is zinc. Men who eat foods rich in zinc, or take supplements containing zinc on a daily basis, may be able to increase their sperm counts and testosterone levels. Two of the best sources for zinc are oysters and shellfish. Soy should be avoided completely by infertile men because it could interfere with zinc absorption inside their bodies.

There are some lifestyle changes in addition to a healthy diet that may boost fertility for both men and women. Tobacco use of any kind should be avoided because it can increase the risk of miscarriage and interfere with the benefits of fertility drugs. Caffeine is not forbidden when trying to conceive, but studies have shown a decrease in fertility when excessive amounts are consumed. Being overweight or underweight will also not help the chances of conception for men or women, and a healthy diet could remedy either problem.

Following a healthy diet for infertility is no guarantee that conception will occur, although research has shown it can increase the chances. Couples with problems conceiving should speak with their doctors about causes of infertility. The diet alone may not be enough to successfully conceive depending on the root problem. Conditions like blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, and other problems might require medical treatment before pregnancy is possible.

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