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Diet advice for assisted reproductive technologies

Watch Nicole Kellow talk about dietary advice for women undergoing assisted reproductive technologies.
NICOLE KELLOW: One of the things that I’m very commonly asked is “is there a special diet that people should be following to improve their chances of achieving a healthy pregnancy while they’re undergoing assisted reproductive technologies?” Now the endpoints that we’re interested in are the primary patient important outcomes and those include things like time to pregnancy, presence of a clinical pregnancy that’s confirmed by ultrasound, number of cycles required prior to pregnancy and also whether a live birth has occurred or not. In theory, taking an antioxidant supplement should be beneficial, however there is no one specific antioxidant supplement that we should be taking to improve ART outcomes. What we do recommend is that people obtain a variety of antioxidants from their diet.
There is some good evidence starting to accumulate that the quality of the whole diet is most important for achieving a healthy pregnancy while undergoing ART.
A few studies have been conducted looking at the Mediterranean diet and these show that the rate of clinical pregnancy and live births increases by about 50 per cent in people with the highest adherence to the Mediterranean diet. Now we don’t know what individual component of the Mediterranean diet has the best outcomes, but we do know that the Mediterranean diet is associated with a lot of benefits. So it’s high in antioxidants from fruits vegetables nuts and seeds. It’s low in saturated fat because there’s a limited amount of red meat eaten and also there’s a limitation on the amount of highly processed foods that are eaten as part of the diet.
The diets high in fiber from legumes and whole grains, and it’s also high in healthy fats from fish and also extra virgin olive oil. There are some factors that we know are associated
with poorer outcomes in people undergoing ART and they include: cigarette smoking of course; alcohol, which should be avoided; but also being above a healthy weight can have a detrimental impact, so trying to lose some weight prior to undergoing these therapies is always a good idea. Caffeine has some mixed results from the research but we do know that it’s best to limit your caffeine intake to what we would recommend for people who are already pregnant which is making sure that you have less than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day. So to put that in perspective, a regular cup of coffee contains about 150 milligrams of caffeine and a regular cup of tea contains 50 milligrams of caffeine.
So coffee should really be limited to about one cup per day, and we recommend you avoid the consumption of those energy drinks which contain a lot of caffeine. Now if women or men undergoing ART don’t eat a lot of fruit or vegetables then it might be worth considering taking a general multivitamin and mineral supplement, but we don’t recommend mega doses of individual antioxidants because in large doses these could be harmful. So keeping those Mediterranean diet principles in mind is one thing that you can do to improve the overall quality of your diet while undergoing ART.

Watch Nicole Kellow talk about dietary advice for women undergoing assisted reproductive technologies.

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Food as Medicine: Fertility and Pregnancy

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