Eat to conceive
Jorge E. Chavarro, M.D., Sc.D., an assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and author of The Fertility Diet (McGraw-Hill), followed 18,000 participants in the long-running Harvard Nurses’ Health Study who were trying to get pregnant. Among his findings:
GET YOUR PROTEIN FROM PLANTS Foods that elevate insulin levels contribute to ovulatory disorders. “Not all proteins are digested the same,” Chavarro explains. “Animal proteins require more insulin to be secreted.” Beef and poultry, specifically, were associated with infertility, but replacing 25 grams of animal protein with 25 grams of plant protein (beans, peas, nuts) was related to a 50 percent lower risk of ovulatory infertility.
BAN TRANS FATS Found primarily in packaged baked and fried foods, trans fats elevate insulin levels. Monounsaturated fats, like those found in avocados, nuts and olive oil, are associated with a decreased risk of infertility.
AVOID SUGAR SPIKES Quickly digested carbs, such as white bread, potatoes and soda, spike blood sugar, promoting insulin secretion. Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., co-author of The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health (Future Health), dislikes these carbs for another reason: They encourage yeast overgrowth. “Yeast toxins can cross-react with hormones necessary for pregnancy, blocking their receptor sites,” she says. Dean recommends eliminating sugar and white flour, eating fiberrich, slowly digested complex carbohydrates and incorporating plain yogurt or probiotic supplements to encourage the growth of healthy gastrointestinal bacteria, which favorably compete with yeast toxins for space.
Try: Culturelle Probiotics ($15 for 30 capsules, vitacost.com) or Lifeway plain organic kefir ($5 for 32 ounces; lifeway.net)
TEA UP A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that tea drinkers doubled their odds of conceiving, perhaps because of tea’s antioxidant content. Note: Blakeway advises avoiding red raspberry leaf tea because it is linked to miscarriage.