Study: Diet can impact ability to become pregnant

We’ve all heard the saying ‘you are what you eat.’

But according to a recent study, a woman’s diet can actually impact her ability to become pregnant.

The study looked at 5,598 women and surveyed them on their diet choices one month prior to conceiving, including how much fresh fruit and fast foods they consumed.

Researchers found that women who ate more fresh fruit had an easier time getting pregnant, while those who had high fast food diets had the most difficulty.

Rebecca Starck, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic did not take part in the research, but said the results highlight the impact that overall health has on pre-conception health.

She said we know that diets high in fast food contribute to cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity and high cholesterol.

According to Dr. Starck, a woman with one or more cardiovascular risk factors could have difficulty getting pregnant, as these factors can impact her ability to ovulate regularly.

“There is an ideal body mass index -which is a measure of how much you weigh versus your height, which ranges from 18.5-24.9” she said. “If your BMI is too low or if your BMI is high – either end of the spectrum – it can affect your ability to ovulate.”

Dr. Starck said it’s also important for women to remember that the benefits of a healthy diet extend beyond conception – essentially, what’s good for mom is good for baby.

“We know that mom’s diet is essentially broken down and that crosses the placenta,” she said. “Those nutritional elements cross the placenta and if mom has a high sugar content, or a high fat content in her diet, a lot of that transfers to the baby.”

Dr. Starck said underlying cardiovascular issues can make it more likely for a woman to experience serious complications such as hypertension, or diabetes during pregnancy.

For women who take medications for a medical issue, she recommends seeking pre-conception care from a women’s health physician.

Complete results of the study can be found in Human Reproduction.