Posted under Women's Health by Ms Jyotirmayi Banerjee



How your nutritional choices can make or break your fertility

How does poor Nutrition impact fertility?

The WHO has reported up to 80 million women world-wide having been affected by infertility to date, with a prevalence of ~50% of all women in developing countries.

A normal reproductive performance definitely requires a healthy nutrition since malnourished males and females are reported as major infertile populations in developing countries while, eating in excess, fast food consumption, hyper caloric dietary regimens and obesity, concur to infertility in well-developed and western societies.

Particularly in women, abnormal nutrition may permanently affect oocyte maturation, and a better understanding of the molecular events deranged in malnourished people would provide solutions for restoring normal reproductive functions.

Several independent research studies have established that both Lifestyle factors and Nutritional habits exert a negative impact on a women's fertility. Abnormal body weight and energy supply and Dietary nutrients either in excess or insufficient can exert a detrimental impact on both ovulatory function and normal spermatogenesis.

Let us study the impact of

  1. unbalanced calorific diet
  2. unbalanced body weight (BMI)
  3. unbalanced nutrient intake
  4. effect of unbalanced lifestyle

Effect of Unbalanced Calorific diet

  • An unbalanced caloric and protein intake due to incorrect food consumption, responsible for severe under- or over-weight, leads to alterations of the ovarian function with subsequent increase in the infertility.
  • In particular, metabolic disorders including diabetes, obesity, and hyperlipidemia commonly associated to hypercaloric diets are suspected to affect a woman's fertility either by direct damage to oocyte health and differentiation, or by indirect interference with the pituitary-hypothalamic axis, resulting in dysfunctional oogenesis.
  • Several studies exploring the effect various dietary habits on fertility, revealed reduced risk of fertility due to ovulatory disorder in women whose food regimen included low glycemic content and balanced intake of nutrients.

What is Glycaemic Index and how does it impact fertility?

Glycaemic index is a measure of how a particular food will affect your blood sugar levels. Certain foods like refined sugars and bread can make your blood sugar shoot up very fast because are easier for your body to change into glucose than more slowly digested carbs like those in vegetables and whole grains

The purpose of a glycemic index (GI) diet is to eat carbohydrate-containing foods that are less likely to cause large increases in blood sugar levels. The glycemic index can help you tell the good carbs from bad carbs and make the right dietary choices.

Gi index put a number to the carbohydrate food based on how much a food item raises blood glucose levels compared with how much pure glucose raises blood glucose

They are classified into three types:

  • Low GI: Green vegetables, most fruits, raw carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils and bran breakfast cereals
  • Medium GI: Sweet corn, bananas, raw pineapple, raisins, oat breakfast cereals, and multigrain, oat bran or rye bread
  • High GI: White rice, white bread and potatoes

Effect of unbalanced body weight (BMI)

  • Variations of the body weight in terms of overweight, obesity or severe underweight associated to alterations of the energy balance are also suspected to produce ovulatory disorders.
  • To this regard, it has been reported that the time to conceive is longer in women with body mass index (BMI) superior to 25 kg/m2 or inferior to 19 kg/m2, and that both overweight and obesity are significantly related with reduced pregnancy rate, increased supplies of gonadotrophins and higher miscarriage rate.
  • Obese women show decreased insulin sensitivity determining persistent hyperinsulinemia, which may be involved in the pathogenesis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
  • High BMI is also associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes such as gestational diabetes, hypertension and premature births and unbalanced diets with a prevalence of Carbohydrates, fatty-acids, proteins or vitamins and micronutrients definitely exert a negative impact on ovulation.

Effect of unbalanced nutrient intake

  • An unbalanced caloric and protein intake due to incorrect food consumption, responsible for severe under- or over-weight, leads to alterations of the ovarian function with subsequent increase in the infertility.
  • Deficient food intake, inadequate alimentary regimes, strong dietary restrictions and a general lack of nutrients result in loss of both body weight and physical performance, delayed puberty, lengthening of the post-partum interval to conception, lower gonadotropin secretion levels with alterations of the physiological ovarian cyclicity and increased infertility.
  • Poor intake of proteins, micro and macro-minerals and vitamins is associated with reduction in reproductive performance since the altered energy balance is directly correlated to the reduced ovulatory maturation in women
  • In addition to the negative interference with the safety of gametes, several nutrients of major diets also affect the implantation of a normal embryo.

Effect of Unbalanced lifestyle

  • Heavy alcohol consumption indirectly affects the fertility when associated with nutritional or secondary health disorders
  • Smoking is associated with a rapid decline of ovarian reserves, delayed conception and heightened risk of spontaneous miscarriage, as well as a lower success rate from ART, while in males the percentage of normal semen morphology and motility is significantly reduced
  • Smoking strongly damages the quality of gametes in both sexes resulting in a reduction of ovarian reserve in women, and in a significant decrees in density, count, mobility and morphology of sperm in men

Key take home points:

  • The kind of food you take has a direct impact on both male and female fertility You can condition your reproductive health by leading a healthy lifestyle, making the right nutritional choices and maintaining a healthy BMI.
  • Fertility diet is more about nutritional correction and nutritional balancing than Fertility enhancement. The Fertility enhancement affects of beneficial nutrients are already there. we just make to sure we are taking them in levels our body requires. You just need to take the beneficial nutrients in the right amount and cut down on dietary components that are detrimental to your reproductive wellbeing. Achieving a healthy BMI is necessary part of fertility nutrition. One must perceive fertility diet plan as a correctional plan for your existent dietary intake and balance it by supplementing with right amounts of beneficial nutrients and cutting down on the harmful components.
  • Fertility diet and maintaining a healthy BMI goes hand in hand.

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