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You Are What You Eat: Tips For Improving Your Fertility and IVF Through Nutrition

An often overlooked component of the fertility process is nutrition. It is our mission at Grain Fertility to empower patients and give them the tools and resources they need to make more informed decisions about their own fertility journey. I will admit, this is an area I know very little about, so I thought it was important to connect with an expert in the field to help demystify the impact nutrition can have on fertility and provide you with some IVF and Fertility Nutrition Tips.

To help with this, I reached out to Becca Romero, a functional nutritionist specializing in fertility, and founder of Little Life Nutrition, to answer some important questions to help you better understand how nutrition and fertility intersect.

Little Life Nutritionist Becca Romero
Becca Romero, Fertility Nutrition Expert

Joe: There are a lot of misconceptions out there, so let's start with understanding what impact your nutrition can have on a person's fertility. How much of an impact can your diet have on someone's fertility?

Becca: Your diet can have such a profound impact on fertility. Having optimal nutrient levels, balanced blood sugar, low levels of inflammation and so much more are all factors in both male and female fertility. All of these factors are influenced by what you put in your mouth. The nutrients you eat help to fuel both the egg and sperm. Just like the saying "you are what you eat", your egg and sperm are what you eat.

Joe: When someone is referred to a reproductive endocrinologist and told they will need assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF to have a kid, are there recommendations you have that can help them as they prepare to undergo a cycle or ways that can help during a cycle?

Becca: Absolutely! My suggestions are to audit your diet as well as insure both partners are taking a high quality prenatal vitamin.

As we already discussed, diet can have a significant impact on both sperm and egg health. When preparing for an IVF cycle, it is important to get both the eggs and sperm the nutrients they need. Keep in mind it takes about 90 days to impact egg quality and about 60 days for sperm to regenerate. Therefore you want to implement healthy changes for at least that amount of time before an IVF cycle. If you are looking for guidance in this area, seek the health of a fertility nutritionist who can help guide you! For women, I would also suggest taking a high quality prenatal vitamin that contains methylfolate rather than folic acid. 25% of the population worldwide carry a genetic mutation called MTHFR, which affects their ability to utilize folic acid which is vital for fertility and the health of the developing baby. Populations with higher prevalence of this mutation are Hispanics (47%) and Europeans (36%).

Lastly, prenatal vitamins are not just for women! I suggest that the male partner also starts taking a prenatal vitamin focusing on sperm quality. One of my favorite brands is FullWell's men's sperm support.

Joe: Patients often worry that food or drinks in their diet can harm their chances of success. Is this the case and if so, are there certain foods or drinks that people should stop during fertility treatment and what are the real impacts they can have on an individual's chance of success?

Becca: There typically isn't one meal, specific food or drink that was ingested in isolation that will impact the success of fertility treatments. However, it's more about the big picture and what the diet is like a majority of the time. Having good eating habits in general can have a major positive impact on fertility. I do recommend avoiding alcohol altogether as there are no health benefits and it can be highly inflammatory. When it comes to alcohol, act as if you are already pregnant. Especially avoid alcohol after a transfer or in the two-week-wait post fertility treatment.

Joe: Are there certain diets that people may be on that you recommend your patients adopt during fertility treatment or others you would recommend they stay away from?

Becca: When it comes to diet when trying to conceive and going through fertility treatments, it is all about abundance of nutrients. This is not the time to try to lose weight to restrict food intake. I never recommend skipping meals or engaging in any type of fasting including intermittent fasting. Food restriction can cause stress on the body and the body needs to be as free from stress as possible to create a safe environment for baby. I generally recommend that everyone trying to conceive adopts a blood sugar balancing diet. Keeping blood sugar stable is extremely important to optimize fertility. Learn more about blood sugar and fertility here.

Joe: Are there non-medical ways such as diet modifications that can improve egg quality, yield or other important components of a patient's IVF journey?

Becca: Absolutely! Keep in mind that everyone is unique and no one approach works for everyone. It is important to consider any conditions you may have such as autoimmune disease, PCOS or endometriosis just to name a few. When it comes to egg quality, diet can either have a positive or negative affect. It is a common misconception that just because a female is born with all the eggs she will ever have means that the quality cannot change. This is not the case. Immature follicles will mature into eggs to eventually be ovulated or extracted for an IVF procedure. Nutrition can impact how the egg matures and of what quality it will be once it matures. It has been shown that diets rich in seafood, poultry, whole grains, fruits and vegetables can improve fertility in women and even sperm quality in men. Specifically omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish) have been shown to improve egg quality.

Joe: One third of all cases of infertility are due to male factor infertility. Are there nutrition tips you can give men to help improve sperm count, morphology, motility or other metrics?

Becca: This is not talked about enough. As I mentioned above I recommend any man trying to conceive start by taking a men's prenatal. When it comes to improving sperm quality through diet, incorporating antioxidants are key. Antioxidants are the colorful compounds we find in fruits and vegetables. I recommend men try to incorporate at least one color in every single meal. For example, incorporate raspberries as part of breakfast, a side salad with spinach and tomatoes as part of lunch and green beans and sweet potato as part of dinner. Eat the rainbow!

Joe: Are there resources you direct your patients to so they can get trusted information as they try to balance living their life and not worrying so much about what they eat while maximizing their chances of success during fertility treatment?

Becca: Check out my Fertility Diet Foundations Guide for a good visual of how to put together your plate for fertility. Lastly, it can be extremely helpful to get advice based on your unique situation. It can take a lot of worry off your plate to meet with a fertility dietitian so you can have peace of mind that your diet and lifestyle approach are serving your fertility.

About Becca Romero

Becca Romero is the founder of Little Life Nutrition, an online fertility nutrition practice. Becca is a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and a Certified Nutrition Specialist. With a specialized focus on addressing infertility, she offers personalized dietary and lifestyle solutions for women aiming to enhance their conception potential and ensure the birth of a healthy baby. She is driven by the philosophy that optimal preconception nutrition and lifestyle can shape the well-being of generations to come.


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