Fertility and diet: what’s the relationship between the two?

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  • Posted by: jcapel

There are many variables that can make it difficult to conceive a child. With the pace of our modern lives, stress, and the economic and dietary pressure we suffer are among the factors that can stop fertilisation happening.

Differences between infertility and sterility

First of all, before speaking about fertility and diet, we need to clear up two concepts that are often confused.

Infertility is when the spermatozoa cannot fertilise the egg – in other words, pregnancy cannot begin spontaneously. It is considered to apply following a year of having sexual relations without contraceptive measures without getting pregnant.

Meanwhile, sterility is when a pregnancy cannot be brought to term – in other words, it is impossible to have a live baby. This second case has nothing to do with conception, only the development of the fetus.

How does diet affect fertility?

There are various pieces of evidence in the medical literature that indicate a clear relationship between fertility and diet.

The evidence is that both the type and quantity of carbohydrates we eat condition fertility. Low glycemic diets improve fertility related to ovulation. They also help women’s sensitivity to insulin and men’s sperm quality.

It has also been observed that increased consumption of vegetable protein, compared to animal protein, encourages ovulation.

Meanwhile, higher saturated fat consumption reduces sperm quality, while eating omega-3 and monounsaturated fats improves fertility.

Being under or over your ideal weight also affects fertility for both sexes. In women, fat is necessary to produce hormones.

However, too much fat can increase the quantity of oestrogens, which alter the menstrual and ovulation cycles.

On the other hand, low weight can compromise women’s pituitary hormone functions, which regulate the ovulation cycle.

Overweight men have higher levels of insulin and lower testosterone, which reduces sperm production.

Also, an increase in abdominal fat causes an increase in aromatase, which converts testosterone into oestrogens.

In men, on the other hand, low weight compromises sperm quality.

Beyond weight issues, it has been observed that people with a tendency towards gluten intolerance have greater infertility problems.

How can we improve our diet to improve our fertility?

Folic acid (B9), antioxidants, vitamin A and beta carotenes, vitamin E and zinc are important nutrients for improving fertility in both sexes.

Cyanocobalamin and iron are also important for women. Vitamin C, polyunsaturated acids and DHA, omega-3 and selenium are also essential for men.

If you need more information about how to take care of your health properly, we invite you to follow the articles on our blog, consult our treatment sections or contact us on a no-strings basis.