IVF and Nutrition – Is the Mediterranean Diet my best option?

IVF and Nutrition – Is the Mediterranean Diet my best option?

Is the Mediterranean Diet the best?

You’re about to start your In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) journey- perhaps it is your first or maybe you’ve endured this journey for a while you are not alone 1 in 8 women need this extra assistance.

I believe that the main element in IVF preparation is emotionally detoxing your mind to create balance; preventing any psychological barriers, anxiety or worry affecting your fertility treatment. 

Nutrition comes a very close second to mind restoration, it’s an area that I am passionate about and a key aspect to a woman’s optimal fertility. Nutrition for fertility, especially IVF treatment can be pretty confusing, especially if they are just beginning this crazy journey. 

With so much advice available for the different diet plans and hearing your body rattling with the copious amount of supplement you’ve just inhaled; it is no wonder you are feeling more stressed than ever.

I recall the bewilderment whilst navigating my IVF journey and tried all the diets which; had enlightening and some easy recipes with healthier aspects. But some recipes were a little far-fetched for someone who had a busy career. It has got even worse now that I am running a business and a fussy 3-year-old to feed.

Egg and Sperm Health

The general advice for eating to achieve healthy egg and sperm is to have a healthy balanced diet high in:

    • Vegetables and fruit (berries are full of anti-oxidants and vegetables like spinach are full of folate).
    • Whole grains.
    • Lean meats for protein.
    • Full-fat dairy products.
    • Fish for protein.
    • Monosaturated fats such as olive oil and avocado.
    • Beans and lentils for iron and B vitamins.
    • Lots of water.

Low in:

    • Red meats – Iron can be gained from beans and lentils.
    • Processed foods – microwave meals.
    • Refined sugars – Chocolate, cakes and pastries.
    • Refine flours such as white bread.

What diet is best?

Numerous diets are mentioned throughout the fertility community as being the next best thing. However, research has shown that the Mediterranean Diet may improve IVF success rate. It is beneficial for other physical ailments affecting fertility; like PCOS, Endometriosis and obesity as it reduces 

The Mediterranean Diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people who live in countries by the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Spain, Italy and Greece. In general, it’s high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.

This diet puts a higher focus on plant foods than other diets and includes small portions of fish, meat and eggs. This diet tends to avoid processed foods, deli foods, refined oils and sugars, pastries, refined grains and doughs containing white flour.

Here are easy ways to revamp your nutrition with the Mediterranean diet:

  • Fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose lean proteins, like fish and poultry.
  • Eat whole grains, like quinoa, farro, and whole grain pasta.
  • Add in legumes, including beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
  • Switch to low-fat dairy products.
  • Eat healthy fats, such as avocado, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
  • Avoid red meat, sugar, refined grains, and other highly processed foods.
  • Cut out salt. Flavour food with herbs and spices instead.

The Mediterranean diet is an optional choice for those with allergens or intolerances as it focuses more on vegetables and low sugared fruits. There being plenty of substitute foods that can replace gluten and dairy such as quinoa and nut milk.

How can I substitute food if I have allergens or intolerances?

The supermarkets have recognised the need for food substitutes for allergens and intolerances. There is a whole range of foods in the gluten-free and non-dairy isles.

Cow’s milk can be substituted for almond, coconut, oat and lactose-free milk. There are all-kinds of butter now that are plant-based rather than dairy-based, with cheeses following.

Different types of gluten-free bread are also making their way onto the shelves. 

Brown rice and rice noodles are gluten-free products and can be used in your recipes instead.

A typical meal plan – including dairy and gluten-free options:

Breakfast

  • Gluten-free porridge with organic whole milk or almond milk, mashed banana, blueberries honey, mixed seeds and a small splattering of manuka honey.
  • Cucumber, spinach, apple, celery, avocado, lemon and coconut water smoothie.

Lunch

  • Butternut Squash, red pepper, chilli and ginger soup with whole-grain or gluten-free bread.

Dinner 

  • Salmon stir fry, brown rice, peppers, courgettes, aubergine and baton carrots.

Snacks

  • A handful of nuts especially brazil nuts.
  • Low sugar fruit like melon.
  • Dairy-free yoghurt.

Conclusion

The research has indicated that the Mediterranean diet is the closest example to a healthy, balanced and nutrient-dense diet for fertility health. It can improve egg and sperm quality, meaning you and your partner can enjoy your newly formed way of eating together.

There are so many other benefits, not just fertility. So what are you waiting for? Change NOW.

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