The no. 1 piece of advice we give to couples who are trying to conceive? Getting your body ready for baby starts before you're ready to start trying. And new research says that for couples seeking fertility help through IVF, following a Mediterranean diet for six months prior to treatment can help boost success rates.
Researchers asked 244 women enrolled at Assisted Conception Unity in Athens, Greece, to complete a food frequency questionnaire prior to their first IVF treatment. They found that compared to women with the lowest adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet, women who followed one had a 65 to 68 percent greater chance of getting pregnant and giving birth. According to researchers, a Mediterranean diet includes:
- Fresh vegetables
- Whole grain
- Olive Oil
(A Mediterranean diet also involves minimal red meat consumption.)
Based on the positive correlation between the diet and pregnancy, researchers have a surprising recommendation: men hoping to become fathers should follow it too.
"It should be noted that when it comes to conceiving a baby, diet and lifestyle are just as important for men as for women," says lead researcher Nikos Yiannakouris, a professor at Harokopio University of Athens. "Previous work from our research group among the male partners of our study has suggested that adherence to the Mediterranean diet may also help improve semen quality. Taken together, these findings highlight the importance of dietary influences and diet quality on fertility, and support a favourable role for the Mediterranean diet on assisted reproduction performance."
Interestingly, the study didn't find a correlation between the Mediterranean diet and IVF success rates in women over 35. However, researchers attribute that to fewer available eggs and hormonal changes, and emphasize a healthy diet is still important for older women undergoing IVF.
"The important message from our study is that women attempting fertility should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, because greater adherence to this healthy dietary pattern may help increase the chances of successful pregnancy and delivering a live baby," Yiannakouris says.
Beyond Mediterranean-centric foods, plenty of other foods can help boost your fertility. See our top 10 here.