NUTRITION & WEIGHT
Infertility can have many causes, and often the exact cause
is unknown. Some cases of infertility may be related to
nutrition and can usually be corrected. Just as nutrition
plays a key role in the prevention and treatment of many
diseases such as heart disease and cancer, it can also play
a key role in the treatment of infertility. The following
are nutrition-related issues that may affect a woman's fertility:
Being either significantly overweight or underweight can be a
cause of infertility. Being too thin or too heavy can interfere
with ovulation. Like the ovaries, fat cells also produce estrogen
which plays a crucial role in ovulation. If body fat levels are
too low, you produce less estrogen. If body fat levels are too
high, you produce more estrogen. Both of these instances can throw
your cycle out of balance and interfere with regular ovulation.
Therefore, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is an important
goal for those trying to conceive.
What you eat affects how you feel, your energy level, and your
overall health. A healthy diet is important for optimal reproductive
functioning. Balancing your intake of protein, carbohydrate, and
fat helps you to achieve optimal nutritional status and maintain
a healthy weight. For optimal nutrition, it is recommended that
10-20% of your total calories come from protein, 50-70% of your
total calories come from carbohydrate, and 20-30% of your total
calories come from fat. Choosing a wide variety of foods each
day will maximize nutrient variety and help to ensure that you
are meeting your body's needs.
VITAMINS & MINERALS
Infertility may be caused by an imbalance of certain micronutrients
in your diet. When trying to conceive, be sure to include adequate
amounts of vitamins B6, C, folic acid, and E, as well as the minerals
magnesium, potassium and zinc. Vitamins B6, C and E play an important
role in regulating hormone levels. Folic acid is important for
preventing neural tube defects in the developing fetus. Deficiencies
in the minerals magnesium, potassium and zinc are associated with
reduced fertility. It is important to get adequate amounts of
these vitamins and minerals; however, mega doses can be toxic
and dangerous. It is recommended that you take a daily multivitamin
or prenatal vitamin and include foods in your diet that are good
sources of these vitamins and minerals.
CAFFEINE & ALCOHOL
Both caffeine and alcohol intake have been linked to infertility
and increased conception time. A high caffeine intake has also
been shown to increase the incidence of miscarriage, while alcohol
may contribute to an increased risk of babies born with birth
defects. It is recommended that you limit your caffeine intake
to one cup per day or less of caffeinated beverages and that you
avoid alcohol when trying to conceive.
Mindful eating is a mind/body technique that helps you to
become more aware of your food and your body's reaction to it.
In today's society, too often we eat our food quickly or with
distraction. By eating mindfully and focusing on slowing the pace
of your eating, you will become more aware of the tastes and textures
of your food. When you eat with purpose and pleasure, you become
more in tune with your body and better able to meet its needs.
Cynthia DuFresne is a health educator who
has also been a registered dietician for 12 years. She completed
the training in Mind/Body Medicine for clinicians at Harvard's
Mind/Body Institute in Boston. She now works part-time at the
Cooper Clinic in Dallas; you may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.