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Diet therapy

Nutrition for healthy conception

If improving your fertility is on your mind right now then take a moment to review your current lifestyle.

  • Are you getting plenty of exercise e.g. 4-5 hours per week?
  • Are you at a healthy body weight?
  • How much alcohol do you drink?
  • If you smoke can you stop?

Infertility affects many couples and common reasons can be that:

  • Women may fail to ovulate due to hormonal imbalance and conditions such as Poly Cyst Ovarian Syndrome and Endometriosis. Fallopian tubes can obstruct or there may be past damage from sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Male problems can include Erectile Dysfunction; Varicous Veins causing tube blockages; Testicular problems, or just unhappy sperm that may be low in number, clumping together or misdirected, ending up in the bladder rather than the penis.
  • The unexplainable it just happens!

A healthy diet can really boost your chances of conception in particular:

  • Plenty of whole grain breads and cereals provide B group vitamins such as folic acid that are important for DNA formation and the prevention of spina bifida and vitamin B12 found in eggs and dairy products boost sperm count.
  • Lots of green leafy vegetables once again for folic acid, vitamin C and also for iron that aids immunity and prevents oxidative damage to growing cells.
  • Extra iodine is also important for thyroid function in the foetus as well as for the development of hearing, motor and cognitive functions. As New Zealand soils have low levels of this trace element, iodine is now being added to breads and can also be found in egg, iodized salt and fish.
  • Yellow vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin and kumara are good sources of Vitamin A that will aid progesterone synthesis stimulating changes in the uterus and supporting pregnancy…
  • Milk and seafood are good sources of zinc increases testosterone levels and improve sperm motility.
  • And much more….

Try to maintain a healthy body weight

  • Overweight men produce less sperm and their DNA quality can be fragmented (especially if they are also diabetic) increasing the risk of miscarriage. Increasing body fat and a fatty liver disrupts the metabolism of sex hormones in men and also as fat gathers around the genital area the extra heat produced in this region decreases the number of healthy sperm.
  • Overweight women with excess abdominal fat may experience disruptions in their metabolism of carbohydrate and fat creating insulin resistance. This along with hormone irregularities can prevent ovulation and lead to the development of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Watch the alcohol you consuming socially if you want to make a child

  • Alcohol consumed by men reduces the number, quality and motility of sperm that they produce. It also reduces zinc absorption important for good testosterone levels.
  • Women who abuse alcohol (drinking 4-6 standard units per day) may experience loss of periods and ovulation and alterations to the endometrial lining leading to spontaneous abortions and impaired fetal growth.
  • There is no safe limit for alcohol when you want to conceive.
  • Along with a healthy diet, exercise is important because not only will it aid weight control but it will also help to reduce some of the emotional tension and anxiety that often accompanies this very important chapter of people’s lives.
  • New Guidelines for eating during pregnancy have recently been released

If you would like to assess your current diet and get ideas on how you could make improvements or manage your weight during pregnancy then do contact us today

About the author View all

Lea Stening

Lea is one of New Zealand’s leading paediatric dietitians and also specialises in Sports Nutrition. She has specialised in Paediatric Nutrition for 31 years and in 1985 was the first paediatric dietitian to enter private practice in New Zealand. Lea helps families through her private consultations, public lectures, newspaper and magazine articles as well as television and radio interviews. Read more »

View all posts by Lea Stening »

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