A correct diet, based on natural, fresh and seasonal products, together with an active and healthy lifestyle, are essential allies for a good state of health at any stage of life.
Woman’s eggs, during most of her reproductive life, are in a phase of suspended animation (latency) as immature cells and, in the 3-4 months prior to ovulation, they undergo a complex growth process. This is a very critical stage where there are multiple factors that can affect, both positively and negatively, their correct maturation and egg quality. Some of them are beyond our control, but others are under our influence.
Among them, diet and lifestyle play a very important role in the quality of oocytes and, therefore, are factors that must be taken into account during in vitro fertilization treatment to achieve pregnancy. In addition, as in a natural fertilization cycle, they will have a direct influence on the health of the baby.
The frenetic rhythms to which we usually have (for reasons of work, studies or family) do not always allow us to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Often, in fact, we skip one or more meals a day and, instead of sitting down to eat and saving times for that moment of the day, we have a quick snack, without paying much attention to what we eat. This is how, almost without realizing it, we end up consuming many industrial products, rich in sugars, trans fats and with a low intake of macro and micronutrients, essential for the proper functioning of the body.
The usual intake of empty calories (so-called “junk food”) is not only related to an increase in body weight, but also to a hormonal imbalance and deficiencies of vitamins and minerals, which are very important during the reproduction process.
Adequate nutrition is essential during the preparation of an assisted reproduction treatment as it allows us:
- Helping the oocytes to mature
- Obtaining a sufficient number of oocytes at the time of puncture
- Achieving good endometrial growth
- Favouring embryo implantation
Moreover, of course, ensuring proper fetal development and growth.
What is needed?
- A lot of energy: The egg maturation process requires a sufficient amount of energy; therefore, it is necessary to ensure an adequate supply of fatty acids, preferring omega-3 and essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA). We will avoid very strict diets, unless we need to lose weight. In this case, with the proper guidance of a nutrition professional, it will be advisable to lose the extra pounds but without eliminating the “good” fats from the diet.
- B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B9, B12). These vitamins are very important to promote oocyte maturation, progesterone production, endometrial growth and ensure normal ovulation.
- Vitamin C and vitamin E. They are powerful antioxidants that prevent and protect against oxidative stress.
- Vitamin D. According to various scientific studies, vitamin D plays a key role in female fertility, also due to the presence of its receptors at different sites in the female reproductive system. Its lack is related to a lower rate of reproductive success.
- Minerals, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium. Calcium is necessary for the mature process of the oocyte and for correct fertilization. Lack of iron may mean less chance of embryo implantation. Zinc and selenium are involved in antioxidant defense.
So, which are the guidelines to follow at mealtime?
- Maintain a sufficient intake of proteins, both animal and vegetable.
- Avoid or reduce caffeine. Instead of coffee, a cup of green tea would be recommended.
- Ensure adequate fiber intake from fruits, vegetables and gluten-free whole grains (best if they do not contain gluten naturally, such as quinoa, millet, rice, buckwheat, amaranth).
- Include “good” fats such as fish, avocado, nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds, Macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts) and seeds (such as pumpkin, chia, flaxseed, etc…) that are also a good source of minerals and vitamins.
- Drink two liters of water daily, including infusions (decaff and without sugar or artificial sweeteners).
- Reduce the amounts and frequency of consumption of glycidic foods such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, other cereals, sweets, preferring those with a low glycemic index.
- Reduce intake of milk and milk products.
- Include green leafy vegetables in your diet, which are a good source of folate and more vitamins and minerals.
- Have an active lifestyle.
- Discuss with your doctor and nutritionist the possibility of taking a nutritional supplements.
A proper nutrition is very im