The preconception period continues to gain recognition as an ideal opportunity to optimise the health of the prospective parents. It is well understood that a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition influences the quality of egg and sperm and thereby increases the chances of a successful pregnancy. Likewise, nutritional support is essential during IVF cycles to ensure healthy embryonic development.
Recent data from national health surveys indicate that the general population’s nutritional intake is suboptimal and virtually everyone suffers to some extent from deficiencies of essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
If you about to embark on an IVF journey, follow these 5 simple steps for nutritional support during IVF. Nutritional support involves replenishing your body with healthy food to ensure adequate macronutrients, vitamins and minerals, reducing stress on your body and your mind, eliminating toxins, and supporting positive thoughts.
- Mediterranean-type Diet
A preconception Mediterranean-type diet has been associated with increased success of achieving pregnancy among couples undergoing IVF. This diet is characterised by a high intake of vegetables and good quality vegetable oils, fish, nuts, legumes and low intake of dairy and snacks. A Dutch study showed couples with a high adherence to this diet had a 40% increased chance of pregnancy after embryo transfer.
In comparison, the Western dietary pattern is characterized by a high intake of red and processed meats, high-fat foods, refined grains, and high-sugar drinks and desserts, and is relatively low in fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, poultry, and fish. This diet has been shown in animal studies to be detrimental to fertility.
- B vitamins
Poor B-vitamin status is associated with early pregnancy loss. The early embryo requires folate to reduce risk of neural tube defects. Availability of B vitamins during the period immediately preceding egg recovery may affect embryo viability after IVF. There is also a positive association between folate intake and sperm quality.
• Food sources: Avocado, Brewer’s yeast, rice bran, oatbran, dark leafy greens (collard greens, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach and turnip greens), sunflower seeds, legumes, lentils, mushrooms, wholegrains
- Vitamin D
Higher levels of vitamin D in the body are directly related to vitamin D levels in the follicular fluid of the egg which are associated with improved ovarian response to ovarian hyperstimulation, high quality embryos, improved implantation and pregnancy rates.
• Food sources: Eggs, fatty fish, butter and cod liver oil. You can also get vitamin D from sun exposure. Remember that absorption varies by the season and is also impacted by the darkness of your skin.
- Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3 acids have shown benefit on fertility outcome by improving egg quality and their subsequent development into competent embryos. They also help to regulate hormones in the body, increase cervical mucous, decrease miscarriage risk and regulate anti-inflammatory action in the ovulatory cycle and implantation process during IVF.
• Food sources: Flax seeds, walnuts, salmon, sardines, snapper, trout, whiting.
Anti-oxidants have many roles to play during IVF. They manage oxidative stress and reduce impact of reactive oxygen species (ROS), provide gentle detoxification and support gonadal DNA integrity. IVF procedures such as sperm preparation and embryo medium may increase ROS and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress impacts sperm-egg interaction and implantation. ROS may affect egg maturation, development of the embryo, and implantation. Furthermore, high antioxidant dietary intake has been associated with higher sperm numbers, motility and quality.
• Food Sources: Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. Some of the fruits highest in antioxidants are plums, pomegranates, blueberries and strawberries. Eat a rainbow of foods everyday.
For more information & support with IVF come and see one of our naturopaths. Call the clinic on 9949 4411 or make an appointment via our website www.nbhealthandfertility.com.au.