Tuesday 22 May 2018

New Harvard study: Certain foods can boost men and women's fertility chances

Nutrition: protein
Nutrition: protein
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A new Harvard study has found that there can be a connection between what women eat and their chances of getting pregnant.

Certain foods also can increase men’s semen quality, it found.

The review was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology by Harvard University.

The research recommends five particular foods to eat - and three to avoid - to boost fertility and get pregnant naturally.

5 Foods to eat when trying to conceive:

1. Salmon

Salmon is high in omega-3 fats, which have been proven to direct blood flow to the reproductive organs. 

Although your body can make small amounts of omega 3 fats, to meet your requirements you must eat them.

These fats also increase cervical mucus, help regulate hormones in the body, and promote ovulation.

Sperm in particular need plenty of omega 3 in the reduced form of DHA to support mobility and motility. Similarly EPA, the other reduced form of omega 3, is involved in female hormone signalling and hormonal balancing. The best sources of omega 3 are mackerel, sardines, anchovies, salmon and trout.

Plant omega 3s are found in the like of walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds. A study tested the effect of increasing walnuts within a man's diet on their sperm. A larger serving (75g) of whole shelled walnuts were added to the daily diet of young, healthy non-smoking men that followed a typical Western-style diet. The group consuming walnuts experienced improvement in sperm vitality, motility and morphology. No change was seen in the group that did not add walnuts into their daily diet. Although walnuts provide plant omega-3 fatty acids they also supply folate and selenium which are nutrients that have been associated with sperm quality.

2. Spinach

Spinach is rich in folate, a B vitamin that has been shown to increase the rate and reliability of ovulation.

Folate is an essential ingredient in cell division and a baby starts out as a single cell that divides again and again.

It can also be beneficial for men to take folic acid while trying to conceive.

Taking a folic acid supplement can help improve sperm quality and reduce sperm abnormalities.

3. Whole grains

Whole grains contain B vitamins, like B9 (folic acid) and B12, which are essential for fertility. Several studies in the past have connected a deficiency in B12 to infertility.

4. Plant-based protein, like beans

A study by the Harvard School of Public Health looked at more than 17,500 female nurses who had no history of infertility as they tried to conceive.

The study found that infertility was 39pc more likely in women with the highest intake of animal protein. Those who ate more plant-based protein foods like beans had less trouble conceiving.

5. Dark Chocolate:

Eating a little 70pc dark chocolate, which contains flavonoids, can help with increasing microcirculation in the ovaries.

Dark chocolate has also been proven in several studies to increase the semen quality in men. It contains an amino acid, L-arginine, that has been proven to increase sperm count, sperm motility and semen volume.

Foods to avoid when trying to conceive:

1. Soy

Men are advised to avoid soy-based foods because soy exerts mild estrogenic effects, which could harm male fertility. However, it can be helpful for women who are trying to conceive.

2. Fried foods

The researchers found that fried foods decrease blood flow to the reproductive organs, which could have an adverse affect on fertility. The researchers found that the more trans fat a woman eats, the greater her risk of fertility problems.

For every two percent of additional calories women ate from trans fats, their risk of infertility increased by 73 percent, the study of 18,000 women found.

Male and female hormones are made up of fats. Fats are hugely important raw materials that are components of both the sperm and all sex hormones. Cell membranes are made from the various fats and sugars consumed in the diet.

But a diet high in sugar and processed fats known as trans-fats interfere with the delicate signalling that occurs on these membranes.

3. Fizzy drinks

One sugar-sweetened beverage per day contributed to a 20 percent decrease a couple's fertility, researchers at Boston University School of Public Health found.

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