The following article was contributed by Jennifer Redmond, Editor-in-Chief of FertilityAuthority.
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a medical treatment for couples that are experiencing infertility. With IVF, a woman typically has her ovaries stimulated with fertility drugs in order to create multiple eggs. The mature eggs are retrieved in a surgical procedure and fertilized with her partner's or donor sperm in the IVF laboratory. After a few days, the resulting embryo or embryos are transferred back into the woman's uterus with the hope that an embryo will implant and grow into a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Many women ask: What kinds of foods should I be eating to improve my egg quality and uterine lining to optimize my chances of IVF success?
While there is no magic food that will guarantee a baby, a healthy, balanced diet full of colorful fruits and veggies, lean protein and whole grains gives you the best chances for conception. Eating organically and reducing processed foods, sugar, caffeine and alcohol will also boost your health and fertility; and don't forget to take a prenatal vitamin.
Here are a few ingredients you should consume more of and a few you should stay away from to be as healthy as you can possibly be for IVF.
Avocado. Avocado is packed full of nutrients, including vitamin K, folate, potassium, vitamin E, lutein, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin B6. Each serving of avocado has 3 grams of monounsaturated fat. Bonus: A Harvard School of Public Health study found that monounsaturated fats, such as those found in avocados and olive oil, are good for fertility treatment and actually increased the live birth rate for those undergoing IVF.
Nuts and seeds. These are high in protein and healthy fats. Try pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds and walnuts.
Beans. Beans are packed with protein, fiber, calcium, iron and potassium, and they contain folate, which helps prevent neural tube defects.
Whole grains. Complex carbohydrates like whole grain breads, brown rice and oatmeal do not affect blood sugar and insulin as dramatically as refined carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice. Foods that regulate insulin levels are good for fertility.
Ice cream. Surprise! The high fat dairy is good for fertility - just don't eat too much! A Harvard study found that women who ate a half-cup of ice cream two or more times a week had reduced infertility levels.
Stay away from:
Trans fats. No cookies, doughnuts and fries. A Harvard study found that consuming as little as 4 grams of trans fat per day increased the risk of ovulation disorders.
Soft drinks. In the same Harvard study, sugary soft drinks increased the risk of ovulatory infertility. It is theorized that blood sugar spikes and weight problems cause problems with ovulation.
Coffee and other caffeinated beverages. Heavy caffeine consumption has been linked to problems with the fallopian tubes and miscarriage. In addition, a recent study by the Fertility Clinic of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark found that drinking five or more cups of coffee a day reduced the chances of IVF success by half.
Be careful with:
Fish. Fish is a healthy food, and it is an important source of primary nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids. However, fish can also be contaminated with mercury. A study from the University of Albany found that even low levels of mercury can be detrimental to IVF. Fish that tend to have the lowest levels of mercury include favorites like oysters, crab, flounder, catfish, anchovies, salmon, scallops, shad and shrimp.
If you have any questions about foods you can eat during fertility treatment or concerns about nutrition, talk to your fertility doctor.
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