Struggling with infertility? A low-carb diet might
increase your chances of conceiving.
High levels of carbohydrates, especially, refined carbohydrates, can affect the metabolic system of the body and can reduce fertility. Here’s what you should be eating instead.
Over the years, the incidence of infertility is rising and the condition is common in both men and women. Various physiological and external factors such as ovulation disorder, low sperm count, poor sperm/egg health, blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), stress, lifestyle diseases and eating disorders are responsible for infertility. Earlier studies had linked infertility to sleep deprivation.
However, not many know that certain foods and diet changes can increase your chances of conceiving a baby. Although, most gynecologists and physicians swear by the importance of good food during pregnancy, only a few will tell you that going on a low-carb diet will increase your fertility.
Dr Priti Gupta, consultant fertility and IVF specialist at First Step IVF Clinic shares how low carbs can help increase fertility:
A high carb diet’s effect on fertility: Various researches suggest that a low-carb diet can increase the chances of conception by five times. High levels of carbohydrates, especially, refined carbohydrates, affect the metabolic system of the body and can fuel obesity, which can reduce fertility. “Couples trying to conceive should look closely at their diet, as there is a strong evidence that it plays an important role in conception and egg quality. Women, in particular, should cut back on carbohydrates,” said Gupta.
Convenience food such as processed meats, canned products, frozen foods, bakery products and snacks are high in carbohydrates and affect the reproductive system in women and reduces the quality of eggs. Apart from this, high carbs can result in poor metabolic health that can cause inflammation in the body and damage the mitochondria affecting the quality of the egg as well as damage the DNA in the sperm and its mobility, morphology or the shape of the sperm and the number of sperm produced.
What to eat: Various scientific studies conclude that there is a 78% higher risk of developing ovulatory infertility in women who consume more carbs than those who follow a low-carb diet. Women with PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) should consume such a diet as it helps in reducing the hormone levels of insulin and testosterone which play an important role in fertility.
“Women who are trying to conceive through assisted reproductive technologies like IVF should pay special attention to their diet. Those who eat low-carb diets have few instances of ovulatory infertility. Therefore, foods rich in fibre and low in the glycemic index should be selected. Also, one should not only focus on consuming low-carb diets but also consume good carbohydrates (whole-wheat grains) to nourish your body and maintain hormone levels to increase the chances of fertility,” Gupta added.
“Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables and proteins. While proteins are essential for good quality embryos and egg quality, you should not eliminate carbohydrates completely. You should include at least one portion of carbohydrates. Go for fibre-rich food and avoid transfats and simple sugars. Both the partners should follow the dietary recommendations to increase chances of fertility,” she said. A low-carb diet will also help in maintaining weight and regularity of menstrual cycles.
* Foods rich in antioxidants such as folate and zinc, Vitamin C, E and carotene can help increase fertility. They deactivate the free radicals in the body that can damage the sperms and egg cells and should be included in your diet. Fruits, vegetables and nuts (especially walnuts) and grains are rich in antioxidants.
*Trans fats increase the risk of ovulation infertility. Various researches also report that diets rich in trans fats are related to infertility.
* Avoid processed and fried foods as well as baked products such as cakes and biscuits.
Since carbohydrates are absorbed quickly into the body and shoot blood sugar and insulin levels, foods like processed grains, white pasta and bread should be avoided. On the other hand, fibre can help in balancing blood sugar levels and hormones in the body. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, apples, pears, carrot, broccoli, beans and oats are rich in fibre.