The Fertility Diet - Easy or Tough to Swallow?
What do ice cream, brown rice, and broccoli have in common? These foods are all part of a comprehensive nutritional plan that Harvard researchers Jorge Chavarro and Walter C. Willett, the authors of The Fertility Diet, recommend for women who are trying to have a baby. The guidelines in the book were based on research from a study that examined the dietary choices made by approximately 18,000 women as they each tried to become pregnant over a period of eight years. Although the nutritional benefits of most of the foods suggested by Chavarro and Willett are indisputable, the book claims that these foods can actually increase fertility, a link that is not yet fully established.
What Foods Are On the Menu?
The studies that trump the virtues of Hagan Daaz® and Baskin Robbins® are few and far between; however, with the notable exceptions of ice cream and whole milk, the foods in The Fertility Diet are healthy and predictable. Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, whole grains...these are the "usual suspects" whose nutrients and health benefits have been known for centuries. Chavarro and Willett also suggest that women who are following the diet should eat less red meat and avoid trans fats, which is hardly revolutionary advice for anyone who has tried to lead a healthier lifestyle. But could this diet give real hope to women who are trying to conceive?
Can Food Really Help You with That Kind of a Full Belly?
The book does cite evidence from the study that suggests a possible
connection between the consumption of certain foods and increased fertility;
however, its findings are only beneficial for women who are affected by
ovulatory infertility. Ovulatory infertility is characterized by a woman's
inability to successfully produce a viable egg each month and is only
responsible for approximately 25 to 30 percent of all infertility cases. Eating
habits will not increase the fertility of women whose tubes are closed off, and
the book's research does not address male infertility or the foods that can
potentially have an impact on it.
Nevertheless, The Fertility Diet does contain useful nutritional tips for women who wish to increase their chances of achieving pregnancy by maintaining good overall health. Indeed, healthy eating habits can help women reach or maintain a Body Mass Index of between 20 and 24, the range that is considered by many fertility experts to be ideal for conception.
A Last Bite
If you start following the book's recommendations and do not become pregnant, do not blame yourself for your eating habits. Nor should you let The Fertility Diet take the place of advice and treatment from a trained fertility doctor, one who can identify the causes of infertility and arrive at solutions that are unique to each individual and couple. But the majority of the nutritional advice in the book is sound and supports a healthy lifestyle, which will certainly not deter any pregnancy. Just remember to enjoy that ice cream in moderation!
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