Does your diet affect your fertility?

The authors of a 2021 review of research on the possible link between diet and female fertility concluded that, while their recommendations focused on women, “diet and nutritional patterns are undoubtedly significant for both male and female fertility”.

The researchers gave a detailed overview of the effects of individual nutrients and the foods that contain them. They also emphasised the importance of involving a clinical dietician in the care of couples planning a pregnancy. Broadly speaking, their summary recommended foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole-grain pasta and whole-grain bread (for carbohydrates); sources of healthy fat such as oily fish; and legumes, eggs and lean meat for protein. They also pointed out the important role of certain nutrients that may sometimes be overlooked: these include iodine, which helps the proper development of the fetus and the expectant mother’s thyroid function.

For alcohol, the advice is clear and consistent across the research. The CDC states: “there is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant.” This goes for all types of alcohol, including all wines and beer. The advice is to avoid it altogether.

If you have any concerns or questions about your diet and how it might affect your fertility, the best step is to consult your healthcare provider. And while certain foods do appear to play a positive role in fertility, it’s important not to overstate their power. Infertility is complex, as are its cause. Worrying over one’s diet can cause unnecessary stress as well as feelings of guilt and shame. Those struggling to conceive can rest assured that the problem is unlikely to be rooted in one specific thing they did or did not eat.

Wilkinson says that people with fertility issues are often searching for a single fertility-promoting food

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