When I work with clients going through IUI or IVF cycles, I always stress that their job is not over. You can still take part in practices that enhance your chances of success! We know that the rates of IVF success are a mere 30%-45%, and this number only drops after the age of 31. So why not increase these chances?
One question I always get around the time of my clients’ IVF cycle is “what can I eat to help improve my chances?”.
You want to load up on dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and chards as well as fruit (particularly berries) to increase vitamin and mineral status & improve antioxidant support. Antioxidants are essential for cell growth and division and will increase chances of implantation as well as reduce miscarriage rates.
Another thing I also tell them to adapt to is a diet of whole ancient and sprouted grains (if not, gluten free entirely). This means staying away from any processed grains such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, etc. Even better? Take it up a notch and eliminate gluten entirely (see why below).
Fish is also a wonderful source of omega 3s, and legumes should also be added to your diet. Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to improve embryo morphology during IVF. Protein is important in producing your hormones and eggs. Eat at least 60 grams of protein daily, preferably from fish, eggs, and low fat meats. If you are a vegetarian, increase your intake of nuts, seeds, legumes, and other sources of non-animal proteins.
Carbs aren’t always a bad thing. We actually NEED carbohydrates to give our cells fuel to divide. Stick to healthy carbohydrates of course such as fruit, whole ancient grains, sweet potato, quinoa, and honey.
FRESH & ORGANIC
There is a surmountable amount of research linking toxins in our food, soil and water to infertility. Pesticides in particular are “xenoestrogens”, meaning they mimic our bodies endogenous estrogen and wreak havoc on our hormonal system. Be sure to eat all produce organic, and all animal products should be 100% hormone-free and antibiotic free.
ZINC and VITAMIN D
Zinc is essential for both female and male partners when it comes to fertility. 15mg of zinc is recommended. Foods rich in zinc include lean meats, nuts, beans, & pumpkin seeds. Studies show that Vitamin D levels are linked to better quality embryos and successful IVF implantation rates. It is recommended to take 4000IU daily.
And don’t forget about WATER! Water taken at room temperature before drinking or eating is beneficial for fertility. Many women are dehydrated and don’t realized it, and it is advised that you drink 2L daily.
Acidic foods such as red meat, coffee, alcohol and processed foods should be avoided. Acidic foods will make your cervical mucous hostile to sperm.
Gluten is a major culprit in unexplained infertility as well as autoimmune related infertility. If you have infertility of unknown cause, gluten should absolutely be avoided. Anyone going through IVF will want to minimize if not eliminate entirely this “anti” nutrient. This anti-nutrient offers little to no value to your diet in terms of nutrients and further depletes your body of essential nutrients. It is also extremely inflammatory … not really what you want going into IVF.
The dairy debate (sigh). I see SO MANY online forums, blogs and websites stating that whole fat dairy products and whey are essential to a fertility diet. Now remember this, and let is seep deep into the depths of your brain…HELL NO!! Dairy products are mucous forming, inflammatory, and add excess hormones from other animals to your sensitive body at this time. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, it is also very dampening and cold to the uterus (dampness and cold uterus is one of the major causes of infertility). Again, this is an anti-nutrient. Dairy is NOT your only source of calcium, and in fact, broccoli and dark leafy greens offer you MORE calcium.
Don’t be afraid of soy products, unless they are unfermented. Soy products such as commercialized tofu, texturized soy protein, satan, and soy milk are loaded with toxins and other fillers and should be avoided. Fermented soy products however are phytoestrogenic (meaning they increase your estrogen if it is too low, or decrease your estrogen if it is too high). These are okay to consume in moderation and include tempeh and miso.
Avoid processed and prepackaged food altogether as they are loaded with sugar, preservatives and GMOs. Fresh is best!
Coffee, black tea, chocolate and sodas should be removed from your diet. They are acidic (see above) and reduce the absorption of calcium and iron, both critical for fertility and IVF Success. Caffeine also increases your risk of miscarriage.
Apart from the obvious, alcohol acts as a diuretic that increases the excretion of fertility nutrients such as folic acid and zinc. It is also a toxic to eggs and sperm.
I wish you all love and light on your journey to motherhood, and a successful IVF round! xoxo