Over the years, the incidence of infertility is rising and the condition is common in both men and women. Various physiological & external factors such as ovulation disorder, low sperm count, poor sperm/egg health, blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections), stress, lifestyle diseases, eating disorders etc. are responsible for infertility in men & women. However, not many know that certain foods and diet changes can increase your chances of conceiving a baby. Although, most gynecologist & physicians swear by the importance of good food during the pregnancy, only a few will tell you that going on a low carb diet will also increase your fertility. Dr. Priti Gupta, Consultant Fertility & IVF, First Step IVF Clinic gives her inputs on the role of low carbs in increasing the fertility.
Various researches suggest that a low-carb diet can increase the chances of success by 5 times. High levels of carbohydrates, especially, refined carbs, affect the metabolic system of the body and can fuel obesity, which in itself reduces fertility. Fertility experts Dr. Priti Gupta says, “The couples trying to conceive should look closely at their diets as there is a strong evidence that diet plays an important role in conception & the egg quality; women, in particular, should cut back on carbohydrates.” Convenience food such as processed meats, canned products, frozen foods, bakery products, snacks etc. are high in carbohydrates and affects the reproductive system in women and reduces the quality of the eggs.
Apart from this, high carbs can result in-
• Poor metabolic health that can cause inflammation in the body and damage the mitochondria, affecting the quality of the egg.
• High carb diet can damage the DNA in the sperm and its mobility, morphology or the shape of the sperm and the number of sperm produced.
Various scientific studies conclude that there is a 78% higher risk of developing ovulatory infertility in women who consume more carbs than those who follow a low carb diet! Women with PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) should consume low carb diets as it helps in reducing the hormone levels of insulin, testosterone that plays an important role in fertility. Dr. Priti Gupta says, “Women who are trying to conceive through assisted reproductive technologies like IVF should pay special attention to their diets. Those who eat low carb diets have few instances of ovulatory infertility. Therefore, foods rich in fiber, low in the glycemic index should be selected. Also, not only one should focus on consuming low carb diet but selecting good carbs to nourish your body and maintain the right hormone levels to increase the chances of fertility.” Whole wheat, grains, fiber rich carbohydrates are great for women who are planning to conceive.
Dr. Priti Gupta says, “Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables & proteins. While proteins are essential for good quality embryos & egg quality, you should not eliminate carbs completely. You should include at least one portion of carbohydrates. Go for fiber rich food and avoid trans-fats and simple sugars. Also, it’s not just women who have to pay attention to the diet, both the partners have to follow the dietary recommendations in order to increase the chances of fertility.”
Foods rich in antioxidants like folate and zinc, Vitamin C, E, Carotene help increase fertility. They deactivate the free radicals in eth body that can damage the sperms & egg cells and hence, should be included in your diet if you are planning to conceive. Fruits, vegetables, nuts especially walnuts, grains are rich in antioxidants.
Trans fats increase the risk of ovulation infertility. Various researches also report that diets rich in trans fats are related to infertility. Avoid processed, fried food, and baked products such as cakes, biscuits etc.
Not only it helps in maintaining weight & encouraging fat loss, but a low carb diet will also help in reducing insulin levels, and maintaining regularity in menstrual cycles.
Since carbohydrates are absorbed quickly into the body and shoot the blood sugar & insulin levels, foods like processed grains, white pasta, breads etc. should be avoided. Refined carbs can accelerate the insulin levels that are bad for women with PCOS.
Fibers help in balancing the blood sugar levels and hormones in the body. Whole grains, fruits & vegetables, apples, pears, carrot, broccoli, beans, oats etc. are rich in fibers.
While a healthy, nutritious diet is essential to maintain a healthy body, the right nutrition can help you conceive a healthy baby especially if you are going through IVF procedure.
It's always recommended to take a second opinion with the experts.