A healthy eating pattern and lifestyle rich in fertile foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and seafood, can help increase fertility and provide health benefits for both a mother and their growing baby.
However, whilst there are fertile foods that can help increase your chances of falling pregnant, there are also foods that can reduce your chances of conceiving.
Here are seven foods that you should avoid when trying to get pregnant, as they can make you less fertile:
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1. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages & Foods High In Sugar
The modern ‘westernised diet’ consists primarily of highly processed, energy-dense foods and beverages that contain large amounts of sugar. It has been found that these foods high in refined sugars can lower male fertility through reduced sperm concentration and impaired sperm motility. In particular, foods with added sugars and sugar-sweetened carbonated drinks have been found to lower female fertility.
2. Excessive Caffeine Intake
A recent review of the evidence surrounding maternal caffeine intake found some conflicting information. Still, it ultimately concluded that caffeine consumption during pregnancy was primarily related to adverse pregnancy outcomes and that it should be avoided if pregnant or wanting to become pregnant.
While it remains debatable whether women trying to conceive or pregnant women should altogether avoid caffeine, Australian guidelines recommend that women consume no more than 200mg of caffeine per day. This equates to about 2 cups of coffee a day.
3. Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are often found in soft drinks, particularly those marketed as diet or low sugar alternatives. Whilst this may sound like the healthier option, these artificial sweeteners have been found to reduce fertility in women through decreased egg quality and lower the chances of successful IVF procedures.
As alcohol is not considered good for general health, it may not surprise that it is also detrimental to fertility. For men, heavy alcohol consumption can negatively affect sperm motility, concentration and morphology. In women, alcohol consumption can cause changes in ovulation and our menstrual cycle, increase the risk of miscarriage and reduce the chance of successful infertility treatment.
5. Saturated-Fats & Trans-Fats
Saturated and trans fats have been found to impair both male and female fertility. These types of fats have been associated with low semen quality in men. In women, saturated fats negatively impact a number of stages in the reproductive process, including the development and quality of eggs, egg fertilisation and implantation and development of the embryo.
6. BPA and Plastics
BPA stands for Bisphenol A (BPA). This is a chemical found in many plastics and has been reported to be associated with female infertility. It has been found to affect women’s reproductive hormone levels and negatively impact assisted reproductive treatments’ outcomes.
Although seafood is considered an essential component of a healthy diet, the high mercury level in some fish, e.g. shark/flake, can reduce female fertility.
The Australian guidelines recommend that fish high in mercury intake is limited to 1 serve (or 150g) per fortnight for pregnant women and those intending to become pregnant due to the harmful effects that mercury can have on unborn babies.
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