The role of diet on fertility

If you missed last week fertility article please click here.  

If you are coming from a diet that consists mostly of refined foods or have been practicing vegetarian, vegan or a low fat diet or if you are suffering from a serious health problem, then you will need to make some serious changes and need to stick with your new diet for two or even three years before conception.  Nutrient deficiency is common in these conditions and sufficient nutrient stores do not fill up over night.  It takes time.  Every day you do not eat a nutrient dense diet your body uses reserves of those nutrients to preform basic bodily functions.  When you do not feed your body nutrient dense foods during pregnancy the baby will draw on your nutrient reserves.  If you do not have sufficient stores of nutrients the baby will take everything it can from your bones, organs and tissues. 

A study based on 30 years of case records from Anhui province in China where the people of this time experienced extreme malnutrition during a period of famine, strongly suggests that if a mother who is pregnant undergoes extreme stress or is subjected to malnutrition or periods of starvation, gives birth to children who have a higher risk of schizophrenia. Chronic maternal stress also leads to an interference with fetal nutrient utilization. (10 p 5)  Cells will reprioritize what needs nutrients when stress in present in the second and third trimester. The brain has priority over nutrients, so other organs and tissues suffer, which can lead to the child having a bigger head in proportion to the rest of their body. If cells do not get enough nutrients during development, the child will be overall smaller in size.   If nutrients are taken from the development of the liver, kidneys, pancreas or other organs, blood vessel supply to that organ could be interfered with.  This lack of proper blood vessel supply can lead to decreased function in these organs. British physician David Barker discovered an interesting link between small birth size, typically from poor nutrient intake and heart disease, in middle age.  He concluded that when a mother has inadequate nutrients, the fetus will divert all of the necessary nutrients to its brain development, thus taking nutrients away from the developing heart and other areas of the body.  This distribution of nutrients away from the heart creates a weakened heart later in life. (4) Research done by David Baker also showed that a child whose womb life was suboptimal had a larger placenta.  He theorized that the placenta grew larger to compensate for inadequate nutrients.  This larger placenta is correlated with high blood pressure later in life. He also found that a child born with a small abdominal girth when compared to their length and head circumference had higher levels of bad cholesterol when they were adults.  The smaller abdominal girth can be contributed to a smaller liver due to vital nutrients being shunted away from the liver for growth and taken to the brain for its growth and development.  A decreased ability of your liver to detox cholesterol traced back to the time in the womb.  Also, if a developing fetus is subjected to bouts of starvation, that fetus’ metabolism is programmed to think the outside world is a place of little food.  If you feed this baby or child large amounts of food, it has a greater chance of becoming obese because it is not programmed to eat a high calorie diet.  If you feed it like it believes, that a calorie balanced diet is in need, it will have a better chance of warding off obesity. 

Your fertility diet should be high in healthy fats, quality proteins, safe starch carbohydrates and low in toxins and low in inflammatory foods.  In 2007 Harvard university found that women who consumed skim milk and low fat dairy had an 85% higher fertility rate then women who consumed whole-fat dairy (4). So don’t be scared to eat the fat!  Fat is your friend.  


Next in the Fertility series: Your 12 month conception plan


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