So, you’re about to pay the cost of a second hand car for fertility treatments, so you obviously want to have your body in tip top shape. An IVF diet is clearly an important consideration, but what is it? And how does it help? Read on to find out…
If you’re going to see a fertility specialist for the first time, you might be surprised to learn, that you may not be undertaking invitro fertilisation, known as IVF, straight away. Depending upon what’s causing your fertility challenges, your fertility specialist may recommend an option such as ovulation induction, assisted insemination, known as IUI OR Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, known as ICSI first.
In term’s of diet, the first step is to prepare your diet as you would for any pregnancy. his means: -getting a blood test to check your nutritional markers, optimising your weight, starting the correct nutritional supplements and managing any dietary conditions that you may have, such as Coeliac disease or diabetes.
Next, we need to optimise your diet for each of the four key factors that we need to conceive….
Any guesses what these are? Well, let me tell you! We need healthy eggs, a regular menstrual cycle, a receptive uterus, and of course healthy sperm.
OK, let’s look at how we can improve each of these four ingredients with the right diet…
1. Healthy Eggs
The first ingredient we need for our baby-making recipe are healthy eggs. Although your fertility specialist can help identify which of your eggs are the healthiest, our aim is to help make them ALL as healthy as possible. Our diet has a big impact on our egg health. And, it takes around 3 months for our eggs to mature, so try to be following your IVF diet for at least 3 months before egg collection. Although there’s a lot that we can do to improve egg health, my favourite tips for improving egg health are to focus on getting enough omega 3, zinc and anti-oxidants. To meet your omega 3 requirements, include two to three serves of fish in your diet each week….you may like salmon patties, sardines on toast or a fish pie for example.
One of the best sources of zinc is red meat. Now, you don’t need a lot, again three serves a week should be ample, but if you’re not eating red meat three times a week, then you may need to look at some other ways of ensuring that you’re getting enough zinc. Dried beans or legumes are another good source that you could consider, so I recommend aiming to eat these at least twice each week too. In terms of antioxidants, vegies are the best source of antioxidants.
And, you may have heard of the saying “eat the rainbow”. That means that it’s best to have a colourful plate full of different vegetables. Not only does this look pretty, but different colours are often representative of different anti-oxidants. In the months leading up to your egg collection, I’d really love you to make a last ditch concerted effort to try to get in your five serves of veg each day, to do this, I’d recommend eating vegies at least three times per day… you might have some sautéed mushrooms and spinach at brekkie, a punnet of cherry tomatoes as a snack, have some salad with lunch for example. Up for the challenge? I know you can do this!!!!
2. Regular menstrual cycle
Our second ingredient was a regular menstrual cycle to result in regular ovulation. Now, depending upon the type of fertility treatments that you’re having, this may or may not be important. Often fertility specialists will give you medications to help you ovulate. But, if they’re not, then and your cycle is out of whack, then one of the best tricks is to optimise your levels of body fat. Gaining weight, (if you’re underweight), or losing it, (if you’re overweight), can impact your insulin hormones which then has an impact on your other fertility hormones. Now, at this point you’re probably telling yourself one of two things: the first is: I have sooo much to gain slash lose, I’m never going to be able to achieve this! And, the second is: I’m going to be using the drugs so this doesn’t apply to me! Am I right? You’ll have to let me know in the chat box!! If I am right, then just listen up a minute!
If you said to yourself that it’s too big a goal so you don’t want to think about it, let me point out that you don’t have to change your weight by twenty kilograms! Often just a few kilograms of weight change can make all the difference to your ability to ovulate. And, if you’re thinking, “this doesn’t apply to me, I’ll just use the hormones”, then hang on there Nelly! How do you know that you’re going to harvest enough eggs? Even with the help of hormones, a few kilograms weight change can sometimes have a very big impact on the number of eggs collected.
3. A receptive uterus
It sounds so clinical, doesn’t it?! Let’s rephrase…. we want a home that your embryo wants to live in! What type of home would you want to start your life in? Or should I say, what type of home did you start your life in?? Well, you want a nice thick uterine lining where you’re going to be safe and well nourished. Now research suggests that one trick for improving your uterine lining is to replace processed, sugary carbs with low GI, micronutrient-rich wholegrains. So, swap your rice crackers for wholegrain crackers, sugary cereal for porridge and your white rice to brown.
4. Healthy sperm
Lastly, none of this is going to work if we don’t have a healthy sperm.I’d recommend that you check out my Youtube clip on ‘fertility tips for our partners’ for more details, but let me just say that one fertility specialist remarked to me “Melanie, when I looked at Dean’s sperm under the microscope, there weren’t many in good condition, but once you’d helped him change his diet, they looked like they belonged to someone else. They looked so fertile!”. So, make sure that you encourage your partner to eat well too!
Now, I have a question for you…. I know that it can be a little overwhelming to think about making so many dietary changes, so let me ask you…which one dietary change are you going to start with today? Research tells us that we’re more likely to achieve change when we declare our actions publicly… you never see someone who doesn’t lose any weight in the Biggest Loser household do you? Of course not – you’ve got the best incentive ever when the world knows! So, I want you to choose one dietary change that you’re going to make and declare it in the chat box below so that I can cheer you on!
And, to make all this easier for you, I’d love you to download my free meal plan. Just go to www.melaniemcgrice.com/fertility.