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Latest Studies on Diet, Supplements, Physical Activity, Weight Loss and Fertility
a blog by Marta Montenegro, MS, CSCS, SFN, NSCA-CPT, September 3, 2014
Part of my job is to regularly review the top medical journals for recent findings related to nutrition, metabolism, supplementation, fertility, physical activity and other topics related to health and wellness. I’ve put together some of the most reputable and applicable research conclusions that you can put into practice now to aid the success of your fertility journey.
- Moderate Exercise Increases Pregnancy Rate. Regular, moderate physical activity is associated with the highest pregnancy rates, regardless of your Body Mass Index (BMI). For example, taking 100 steps per minute or 3,000 in 30 minutes. But beware that too much exercise that is high intensity, of long duration, or that includes poor recovery, may jeopardize your fertility. – Fertility and Sterility Journal.
- Enhance Weight Loss with Exercise. Following a diet can inhibit your calorie-burning metabolism by 15 percent, which makes weight loss even harder. Make sure to add exercise to your strategy as it controls the appetite-inducing hormone ghrelin and keeps your metabolism running at high speed. – Diabetes Metabolic Syndrome Obesity: Targets Therapy
- Better Sleep for IVF Success. Keep tabs on the amount of sleep you get when undergoing IVF treatment. Sixty patients with sleep disturbances, who received lifestyle-counseling treatment, including melatonin supplements, increased their mean number of the retrieved eggs. – Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, 2012.
- Invest in a Fitness Monitor. A University of South Carolina study shows that people who used an energy-monitoring armband to help them lose weight dropped triple the amount of weight than those without such a device.
- Vitamins Help You Get Pregnant Faster. Research shows women with BMIs greater than 25 got pregnant faster when they had more beta-carotene in their diet. Women under age 35 benefited from more vitamin C plus beta-carotene. And women aged 35 and older benefited from extra vitamin E. — Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, 2014.
- “How To Eat An Elephant?” One Piece At A Time! Take the same approach with your healthy lifestyle goals. The British Psychological Society found that breaking goals down into smaller, manageable tasks increases the chances of achieving the goals faster. So think, “I’ll have a healthy breakfast every day,” instead of “I want to lose 15 pounds.”
- Do Vitamin D Levels Affect Fertility In Men? The Unit of Reproductive Endocrinology at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, recently reviewed 30 years of research involving vitamin D and human reproduction. They found evidence for a “favorable effect of vitamin D supplementation on semen quality, testosterone concentrations, and fertility outcomes.”
- A+ for Avocados. A study in Nutrition Journal shows that subjects who have avocado at lunch decreased their appetite by 40%. Likewise, avocado may ignite your metabolism due to its content of the amino acid L-Carnitine, which has shown to speed up the burning of body fat.
- Lower Stress to Keep Your Libido And Fertility In Full Swing. A recent study found that stress in young healthy adults (age 25-50) lowers DHEA-S levels, a precursor of sex hormones, by 23 percent. Make sure to set aside “me” time to decompress during the day. Studies show just 15 minutes has a tremendous impact on stress level reduction. – IDEA Fitness Journal, 2014.
- Crave Sugary-Fat Foods? Check Your Sleep Habits. People who get less than 7 hours of sleep select greater portion sizes of energy-dense food snacks – those high in sugar and fat –and meals than they do after one night of normal sleep, says a study in Psychoneuroendocrinology. Lack of sleep disrupts two hormones that control appetite and satiety: ghrelin and leptin.
- Strategies to Lower Calorie Intake. Surround yourself with healthy pictures like colorful salads and real-life people working out—you’ll make weight-friendly choices.
- Belly Laughs Can Make Baby Bellies! A good laugh can lower blood pressure, stress, and even glucose response after eating high-carbs foods. But it can also help make babies. Women who underwent in vitro fertilization treatment (IVF) and were then exposed to humorous clowning routines became pregnant at a higher rate than those who did not get the laugh exposure. – Fertility and Sterility Journal
- Know Your Good and Bad Fats. LPoly-unsaturated fats (salmon, seeds, nuts) improve embryonic quality
- For greater IVF treatment success, eat more protein before, during, and after undergoing the procedure . Women who underwent IVF and had at least 25% of their daily caloric intake allocated to protein-rich foods, became pregnant 67% of the time. Those who ate less had only a 32% pregnancy rate. But keep your protein healthy—avoid saturated fat from animal sources like red meat. – American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2013.
- Seeds of Success To improve your implantation and pregnancy rate—increase your intake of poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Snack on walnuts and unsalted peanuts, and sprinkle sesame, sunflower and chia seeds over salads and soups. – The Journal of Clinical Endocrinologist and Metabolism, 2010.
- Folate is for women and men. Folate is not just a vitamin important for women during pregnancy, but men can bump up their fertility with folate. In a study published in The Journal of Human Reproduction men who ate more folate-rich food were 20%-30% less likely to have abnormal sperm. To up your folate intake, make beans like pinto, navy and lentils good food pals.
Read labels for ingredient information—people eat about 35% more calories from brands labeled “organic” or “gluten free” because they see them as “healthy.”
Be the first one to order in a restaurant—otherwise you can be tempted to follow another diner’s less-than-healthy menu choices.
Trans-fats (chips, cookies, junk foods) have been tied to ovulatory infertility and miscarriage
Saturated fats (red meat, fried foods, cheese) have been linked to lower sperm concentrations and fewer mature eggs, which may mean fewer embryos to choose from for fresh transfer
— European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology