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Five essential nutrition tips for male and female fertility
Imagine a happy little sperm and a nice round egg… but it’s not that easy. From what begins as a long-distance relationship, the sperm makes its long journey to the egg, defending against all the inflammation and attackers along the way.
Unfortunately, during these travels it takes some inevitable hits. But finally, the two meet and with a bang they create a baby… except that it’s not really so simple. Because just like the sperm, the egg may have also accumulated damage
over time. All of which affects fertility and your chances of successfully conceiving that much-wanted baby. So, it pays to start thinking about making some positive changes to your nutrition habits earlier rather than later, if you’d like to
add to your family.
When does my diet and lifestyle start affecting my fertility?
For women, it will take approximately three months for follicles to develop into a fully mature egg. Within these three months, your diet and lifestyle are
crucial to prevent an accumulation of damage to the vulnerable egg as it goes through a sensitive process of maturation.
For men on the other hand, it takes 64 -72 days for sperm to mature, and in this time, they will also accumulate damage. In fact, an average of 50% of the total sperm a male produces will be malformed due to DNA and cell damage!
That means that if you’re considering starting a family – make sure you’re preparing for this at least three months before the big conception day to best protect your egg and sperm.
So, what can you do to optimise fertility? Here are our Wellness Consultants’ essential fertility nutrition tips for both men and women.
- Can’t live without coffee? Well, you don’t have to, but you might want to cut it down. Caffeine intakes over 300mg − which is about three cups of coffee or six cups of tea − saw a 40% increase in risk of miscarriage in women, and lower sperm count in men.
- Time to shed the excess body fat. A higher body fat content is associated with increased inflammation which can damage cells − especially vulnerable cells like our sperm and eggs! Women who are overweight or obese are also three times more likely to ovulate less frequently – which makes it harder to conceive a baby.
- Salami and deli chicken for lunch? Might be time to switch that up to an unprocessed, lean meat. Processed meats often contain large amounts of saturated and trans fats which can cause sperm defects and reduce total sperm count. It can also increase the risk of a woman developing endometriosis, further complicating the fertility process.
- Switch your plastic container to a glass or stainless steel one. BPA (a toxic industrial chemical called bisphenol A) has mostly been removed from the Australian production system. However, BPA’s cousin, BPS or bisphenol S, is now frequently used in plastic products. BPS has an almost identical structure to the hormone-disruptor BPA! This means there are concerns it could affect both male and female fertility negatively, and you should aim to avoid it as much as possible. On the plus side, using plastic-alternatives like glass or stainless steel is great for the environment too!
- Canola oil out, extra virgin olive oil in! Replace your cooking oils with olive oil – a potent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant. This nutrient is abundant on the sperm membrane. For women, greater adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet has been associated with a higher likelihood of a successful pregnancy.
It’s essential to optimise your nutrition to improve your chances of falling pregnant, but also to ensure that bub has the best start in life. If you’re thinking of starting a family, why not see a fertility dietitian to get personalised advice to guide you through this vulnerable process. You can claim for dietetics consultations on some of our Extras covers.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.
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