Friday, December 3, 2010

Harvard Study: Getting Pregnant & The Fertility Diet

A Newsweek article estimates that infertility issues affect about 6 million American couples today. Environmental contaminants like the endocrine disruptor, bisphenol A (BPA), pesticides and emissions can interfere with getting pregnant. As the average age to first carry children is rising, diet, lifestyle and environmental factors are playing a larger role. Poor nutritional habits and deficiencies can impair your hormonal function and inhibit ovulation.

In a groundbreaking Harvard study {turned book!} researchers studied the role food, exercise and weight control played in fertility. The results found that nutritional habits and deficiencies can impact hormonal function and ovulation. The Nurses' Health Study also found that natural prescriptions can significantly boost a woman’s chances of making a baby, experiencing a healthy pregnancy and deterring miscarriages.

On Carbs: Eating lots of easily digested carbohydrates {white bread, potatoes and sugary sodas} increase the chances that you may struggle with ovulatory infertility. However, eating slow to digest carbohydrates {brown rice, pasta and dark breads} which are high in fiber are correlated with a better success rate of getting pregnant, and can lower your child’s risk of gestational diabetes. Since carbohydrates control your blood sugar & insulin levels, when they quickly peek, they disrupt the balance of hormones necessary for reproduction.

On Fats: Avoid trans fats, baked goods and other commercially prepared foods. Alternatively, monounsaturated fats {think avocados} can improve fertility and even increase sperm mobility in men. These fats also have biological effects of turning genes on or off, stimulating or calming inflammation and influencing cell function.

On Proteins: It has been proven that protein can raise your chances of getting pregnant. However, it’s the protein from plants and whole foods that are doing the work. The Nurses’ Health Study findings, indicate that getting more protein from plants and less from animals is another key in helping beat ovulatory infertility. A study found, when total calories were kept constant, but adding one serving a day of animal protein showed nearly a 1/3 increase in infertility. Alternatively, adding a serving of protein from plants or whole foods {beans, peas, tofu or soybeans, peanuts or nuts} protected against ovulatory infertility.

Fertility Enhancing Foods:
  • Filtered and purified water
  • Spinach
  • Orange and yellow vegetables
  • Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, peas & sweat potatoes
  • Strawberries, blueberries, oranges, papaya, kiwi and cantaloupe
  • Meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy products {be careful to monitor mercury level intake in seafood}
  • Whole grains
  • Tofu and soy


  1. Oh Iva! Thank you for this! Why is it so difficult to get pregnant? I have been trying for four years and although try to eat whole foods I never really did my research in terms of fertility. Thank you!

  2. My husband and I just started trying and these are great tips.

  3. mainly @Dancing Branflake: A friend lent me a book this past summer on the Fertility Awareness Method (often mistakenly confused with the rhythm method) this past summer. It teaches you how to track your cycle so that you actually know exactly when you are ovulating each month, and therefore know the exact days (only a few each cycle) on which you are fertile. Many doctors and hospitals, though they openly scoff at the rhythm method, actually use it in their assessments of "infertility," their scheduling of fertility tests, and their advice on when couples should try to conceive. I would highly recommend researching the F.A.M. if you are trying to conceive, or if you are specifically trying not to conceive--as it does, after all, let you know when you are and are not fertile.

  4. WOW, this is so thorough, thanks dear for the info :)


  5. I do beleive that everything we eat takes a toll on us. (not that this stope me from hitting up the junk once in a while lol) I have started feeding my girls more organic foods for this very reason! Great post.

  6. That looks like a fantastic book and great tips, hope you are doing well!

  7. Great post! It's amazing what good food can do for us!