The Mediterranean diet is repeatedly promoted for its success in regard to weight management, heart health and preventing/reversing type 2 diabetes. For all the same reasons, researchers find that women who adhere to Mediterranean-type diets are more likely to experience IVF success.
Is it Time to Switch to a Mediterranean Diet?
As long as you’re looking for ways to increase fertility chances, switching to a Mediterranean diet isn’t a bad idea (with approval from your healthcare provider, of course). For one thing, the diet focuses on the same types of ingredients recommended by other fertility-friendly diets, such as an anti-inflammatory diet, which limit processed foods, simple carbohydrates and high-saturated fats.
Instead, Mediterranean-style diets focus on lean proteins (lots of fish, farm raised eggs, and low-fat cheeses), beans, nuts, legumes and ample portions of fresh vegetables and fruits. Grains are all whole-grains, preserving protein and fiber content, and olive oil – along with fresh herbs and spices – help to keep healthy fats and antioxidants in good supply.
How Does This Type of Diet Correlate with Improved IVF Rates?
In one of the most recent studies, scientists studied 244 women enrolled in their first IVF trials. Participants were screened and questioned in regards to their dietary habits – in the six-months prior to their IVF cycle as well as through their pregnancy.
Using a Mediterranean Diet Score, which compiles dietary ingredients and compares it with the tenets of a Mediterranean diet, women were divided into various brackets. The women in this particular study ranged in age from 22 to 35 and none of them were obese.
After reviewing all the stats:
- 50% of women in the higher-scoring groups got pregnant the first time, compared with only 29% of women in the lower-scoring group.
- 8% of women in the higher-scoring group experienced a live birth outcome, compared with only 26.6% in the lower-scoring group.
- The study determined that non-obese women 35-years and younger, who adhere to a Mediterranean-type diet are 2.7 times more likely to experience a healthy pregnancy and live birth outcome with IVF.
Women who were more than 35-years of age didn’t experience the same notable levels of IVF success in relationship to the diet, most likely due to age-related hormonal changes and lower ovarian reserves.
While more studies are needed, the authors of this most recent body of research believe the high-levels of anti-oxidants found in fruit, vegetables and whole-grains are the most likely cause of the positive link between a Mediterranean diet and IVF success.
Healthy Diets Are a Key Component of Future Fertility Outcomes
So, does it matter whether or not you adhere to a strictly Mediterranean diet? Probably not.
The main correlation between this and other diets that reduce inflammation and optimize nutrition is that they focus on whole, fresh, seasonal foods – with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole-grains. The other notable factor is that they eliminate processed foods and fast-foods from the menu altogether.
It’s always important to discuss any potential changes in diet and exercise habits with your physician to ensure you’re making the best choices for you. Women who have PCOS and/or who are considered overweight or obese may be advised to use a modified version of the diet in order to more closely monitor total fat and carbohydrate intake.
Are you struggling to get pregnant? Schedule an appointment with NCFMC to work with fertility experts who take a whole-body approach to your fertility health and treatment options.