Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Diet and Fertility: A look at the effects of diet on OI (PCOS)

Studies have shown a link between diet and lifestyle with a females fertility.  There are certain dietary behaviors that can improve a woman's ability to conceive and is most beneficial for individuals with Ovulatory Infertility (OI).  Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a form of OI, and is the most common cause for woman's infertility.    

Many women with PCOS already know that they are at risk of developing diabetes due to the fact that they are less sensitive to insulin, causing their blood sugars to be higher than normal.  This lack of insulin sensitivity means the insulin cannot attach the cells.  In a healthy individual insulin attaches to the cell and allows sugar to enter the cells for nourishment.  When you have insulin insensitivity the cells cannot get the nutrients they need and starve, and the insulin ends up building up in the blood stream due to it not being used.  The increase in insulin causes the liver to reduce the amount of sex hormones it produces.  This causes an off balance of hormones.  The female will now have more testosterone than normal which will in turn prevent ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary). 

Insulin insensitivity can be improved through diet.  By including fiber rich carbohydrates, you will slow the the rate in which the carbohydrates enter the blood stream.  High fiber carbohydrates include vegetables, fruit, legumes, and some whole grains.  Also pairing carbohydrates with protein will slow the rate in which carbohydrates enter the blood even more.  Individuals should have 25-30 g of protein at every meal,  including breakfast.  The protein will help you feel full and prevent you from over eating.  Breakfast tends to be the meal that most people forget to add protein.  Instead of eating cereal, pastries, and bagels in the morning, eat an omelet or yogurt.  

Trans fats can cause infertility and increase insulin insensitivity and inflammation.    It interferes with ovulation, conception, and embryonic development.  Unfortunately, many individuals are not aware that they are consuming trans fats.  Trans fats are found in man made solid fats such as margarine, and fried foods such as french fries and dough nuts.  Instead individuals should consume monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, olive oil, almonds, and eggs.  Polyunsaturated fats are found in foods with Omega-3s such as salmon and walnuts.

Weight also is essential for fertility.  Individuals who are overweight or underweight can have irregular menstruation and ovulation cycles. Excess weight increases the risk of vitro fertilization, miscarriage, preeclampsia, diabetes, and Cesarian section.  If you are overweight, if you loose just 5-10% of your weight you increase your fertility significantly.

Proper vitamins is also essential for all women who may become pregnant.  Prenatal vitamins provide sufficient amounts of folic acid and iron to help support fetal growth.   700 mcg of folic acid and 40-80g of iron are needed to improve ovulation and conception.

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Chavarro , Willett W, Skerrett P. the Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant.  McGraw-Hill, 2009.

Layman DK.  Dietary guidelines should refelct new understandings about adult protein needs.  Nutri Metab. London.  2009, 6:12.

Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner B, et al. A prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility.  Human Reproduction. 2007; 22: 1340-1347.

JJenness R.  Composition of milk. Fundamentals of dairy Chemistry.  New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.  1988: 19.

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