A few studies have revealed that the diet of a person is a major factor in fertility. Particularly important are fats and vitamins. There is still much to be discovered and more research on the most promising findings is required to confirm or disprove these findings.



Pregnancy nutrition. Image Credit: Dasha Petrenko/Shutterstock.com

Introduction

The idea of having a child is an ideal goal for couples. So, any aspect that may affect the odds of having a child is important, particularly since about one quarter of couples from Western nations are unable to conceive during the 12 months of non-protected intimate relations on a regular basis. If miscarriages, as well as other interruptions of pregnancy are taken into consideration as a factor, the number doubles.

The current medical solution to this problem is through using assisted reproduction technology (ART) for developed countries. The number of ARTs has increased by nearly four times over the last two decades, yet the outcomes in terms of live births are not comparable.

This has prompted the need to discover the factors that can be altered to increase fertility. Because nutrition is associated with issues with weight as well as metabolic abnormalities this is a crucial aspect of preconception care.

Vitamins

Folic acid, as well as Vitamin B12 are both involved in the conception process and live birth rates after ART. Alongside lessening the chance for neural tube defect occurring in the fetus, at the dose of 1500 mg daily, folic acid is able to provide a greater positive effect on live birth rates when taken in higher doses, particularly when combined with B12.

Folates are coenzymes which take an active role in the creation and the methylation process of DNA, as also in the synthesis of proteins. When homocysteine levels are low, it could build up, causing epigenetic modifications through the process of methylation. These changes can affect the development of embryos the X chromosome’s inactivation process and chromosome stability, and genomic imprinting and can be passed down through the generations, without changing the sequence of DNA.

Vitamin D is not discovered to alter fertility in the dosages of supplementation typically used.



Food rich in folic acid. Image Credit: Yulia Furman/Shutterstock.com

Fats

Trans fatty acids make up a large portion of a wide variety of baked and fried items however, at the current level of consumption, they’re linked to less fertility. In contrast, long-chain omega-3 fat acids are beneficial for fertility. Trans-fatty acids have been currently prohibited in the USA however they could remain an issue in other nations.

While fats are present in dairy foods, the function of these foods is not known like that of meat.

Carbohydrates

Consuming carbohydrates is linked in some instances to ovulatory health issues however correcting the glucose metabolism of women suffering from PCOS has led to the ovulatory function to return as well as the return of fertility.

Soy

In the past, isoflavones and soy were thought to inhibit conception, but in recent years it was discovered that fertility rates don’t drop in couples with more soy-based diet. Actually, isoflavones may increase live birth rates following the ART.

Proteins

Less vegetable and more animal protein intake was linked to more or less pregnancy rates because of ovulatory causes and ovulatory factors, respectively, for women who were 32 years old or more.

Healthy diet

All in all, diets considered healthy can lead to increased fertility and live birth rates following ART, but the opposite effect being observed with poor quality diets. In excess of carbohydrates, fats, proteins , or vitamins can delay or hinder fertility, perhaps through affecting the maturation of oocytes as well as the quality of embryos and the implantation.

Women eating Mediterranean diets have shorter times to conception, and more conception rates when using ART. The diet is therefore crucial to conception. Moreover, more seafood, legumes, olive oil unprocessed grains, along with red wine having less carbohydrates, demonstrated folate levels in red cells and B6 levels in blood to be more high.

Researchers have discovered that this could be linked to an increase of 40% in the rate of pregnancy by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in conjunction with the consumption of more omega-3 polyunsaturated fat acids, like docosahexaenoic acids (DHA),

Consumption of high amounts of alcohol or caffeine does not always correlate with decreased fertility. However, it’s hard to determine these effects because these substances shouldn’t be used in a controlled study that is randomized due to obvious ethical concerns.



Women eating Mediterranean diets show an earlier time to conception as well as greater rates of conception with the aid of ART. Image Credit: Foxys Forest Manufacture/Shutterstock.com

Body fat mass

The weight of women affects fertility and women with low body mass delay the time until conception. Over- and overweight ladies have less conception rate, higher levels of gonadotropin and a higher risk of miscarriage. This is due to poor Ovulatory function.

Additional support is offered by the fact that eating disorders are believed to be linked with infertility, amenorrhea and miscarriage. However, overweight women are more at risk of insulin resistance due to hyperinsulinemia or hyperandrogenemia. This causes an abnormal metabolism of the adipose tissue.

In the case of excess body weight androgens are a lot more produced in the ovarian theca cells and fat metabolism is extremely active. This results in central deposition of fat or visceral adiposity. It also causes an unnatural patterns of blood lipids. This creates an unending cycle of central adiposity, and the resulting hyperinsulinism that causes further degradation in metabolic pathways.

This may also be the cause in polycystic or ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which is a condition that affects as high as one in five women in reproductive age. In addition, high levels of insulin and insulin resistance can be found here as well as gonadotropins that are commonly altered.

Fatty tissue is also essential in the production of cytokine since a lot of them come from arachidonic acids, a type of molecule. Cytokines are essential to promote cell growth and the differentiation of follicular cells and also for the survival of oocytes and atresia.

Leptin is another hormone that is involved in the growth and functioning of corpus of luteum and promoting an increase in estrogen production from luteinized granulosa cell lines, and reducing progesterone synthesis within the insulin-activated cells of theca. Leptin levels are high among obese women who are infertile which indicates a disordered metabolic condition.

The resultant imbalances in hormone and cytokine levels can cause anovulation and ovulatory dysfunction which can lead to miscarriages and infertility. Even when there’s no indication of ovulatory problems, overweight women usually have an insufficient response to ART, and need longer to become pregnant.

Food and fertility of women as well as diet

Scientists are of the opinion that a healthy diet that has adequate levels of antioxidants and a healthy body weight and regular exercise can lower the chance of having ovulatory infertility by nearly 70%, according to estimates. Idiopathic infertility can be cured by eating a healthy antioxidant consumption. Folate supplementation above the ones recommended in current times also seems to be beneficial.

The mechanism through which this operates is to reduce the negative effects of insulin resistance helping to support ovulatory function providing antioxidants at a sufficient level and limiting the intake of fat and promoting an adequate intake of monounsaturated fatty acids.

In this context it is apparent that the combination that is associated with MedDiet [Mediterranean diet] antioxidants and 1-CC support is a good idea for improving the fertility of women.”

Silvestris et al. 2019

The diet that supports female fertility can be described as containing the protein of plants as well as whole milk and its products, folate iron and monounsaturated fats. If this is the norm for preconception for women, the risk of having Ovulatory infertility was lower by 66% and other infertility was 27 percent lower, as compared to women with the lowest adhering to this type of eating, despite taking into account smoking and caffeine or body mass index drinking alcohol, and oral contraceptive usage.

Panth Panth. (2018) indicated that ” Population attributable risk calculated based on this study indicate that not adhering to”the “fertility food plan” was the primary cause in 46 percent instances of infertility that was greater than other risk factors.” Evidence exists that changing dietary habits can provide the same benefits or even more in terms of weight loss and fitness, insofar as fertility is related.

Male fertility

Antioxidant supplements are available often and are a major source of sales, however eating a balanced diet that includes more fish and poultry consumption, unprocessed grains, vegetables and fruits as well as eating the Mediterranean eating plan, has been linked with higher semen quality. In addition, a lower intake of trans and saturated fats and a lesser intake of processed and red meats, together with a low consumption of potatoes and other high-carb food items, as well as drinks and sweetened food items can improve the quality of semen.

However, more study is needed to determine if this is correlated with increased fertility. However, to date semen quality hasn’t been proven to be an accurate predictor of fertility.

Conclusion

“While an accurate understanding of the impact of nutrition in fertility isn’t yet complete however, significant advancements have been made. Future research should focus on confirming the evidence emerging and examining both male and female diets.”

Gaskins et al. 2018

References

Additional Reading