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New Year's Resolutions that are Supportive of Ovulation and Fertility

By: Jen Walpole, Registered Nutritional Therapist

The New Year often brings with it many resolutions, especially when it comes to diet and lifestyle. However, whilst some of these might be supportive of fertility and in particular, ovulation, some are not. Here, Registered Nutritional Therapist Jen Walpole (DipCNM mBANT CNHC) offers her advice on which resolutions to try and which ones to avoid this January.

Try These:

Dry January

Studies have shown that alcohol consumption, even in moderate amounts may cause irregular menstruation and anovulation (no ovulation). Alcohol has been reported to increase oestrogen levels, when we need those levels to remain in check so as not to impact other female sex hormones such as progesterone (this is known as homeostasis). Long term alcohol consumption can also have an impact on ovarian reserve, which is something we should protect, especially women over the age of 35 that are trying to conceive. Therefore, it is advisable to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. For example, try to keep that glass of wine to a weekend treat or make some simple swaps such as a non-alcoholic drink or even a gut loving kombucha.

Veganuary

Low protein intake is something I see a lot of in my clinics – even in those clients that have otherwise extremely healthy diets. This macronutrient is key for hormone production. Protein, particularly plant-based protein consumption has been shown to be beneficial in regard to ovulation and fertility. A study of 18’500 women with a history of infertility reported reduced risk of ovulatory infertility due to increased plant-based protein intake. Sources include nuts, seeds, lentils and beans such as edamame, black beans, chickpeas, red kidney beans, aduki and borlotti beans. Aim for a handful each of nuts and seeds per day and at least ½ cup of lentils or beans. To ensure you are still getting enough complete protein, which can be more challenging on a plant-based diet, include organic chicken, wild fish, eggs and some organic full-fat dairy.

Healthy Eating

Eating a whole-foods and natural diet will ensure that you are getting all of the required fertility nutrients via your nutrition, rather than relying on a pill or supplement. B vitamins, particularly B6, B12 and B9 (folate) are essential for fertility. These vitamins are involved in many cellular processes including energy production. Low B6 is associated with preterm birth and early pregnancy loss, whilst preconceptional folate and vitamin B12 have been linked to beneficial reproductive outcomes. Include dark green leafy veg like kale and spinach, nuts, oats, fish, poultry, eggs, some dairy (full fat organic), sunflower seeds and wholegrains like brown rice and buckwheat in your preconception diet.

Avoid These:

Low Fat Diets

Not all fats are equal. Saturated, cis and trans fats, found in many processed foods, vegetable oils, red meat and poultry skin should be eaten sparingly. Reduce your consumption of those foods and increase the healthier fats, including omega 3 rich foods, particularly oily fish. Salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring are fantastic sources of omega 3, which is essential for every cell in the body to function optimally, including the largest cell in the female body – the oocyte (egg cell). Other sources of healthy fats include extra virgin olive oil, avocados and nuts and seeds. Evidence shows that healthy fats have an important role in the late-stage oocyte and pre-implantation embryo.

A Busy Social Calendar

Following the Christmas break, where we have slowed down and enjoyed the rest, keep your diary free as you move into the New Year. It’s important to manage your stress response alongside your fertility journey so as to avoid ‘fight or flight’ mode. Elevated cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline often triggered by stressful situations and not enough relaxation time, can disrupt hormone balance. Studies have shown that intermittent or repeated stress may place a greater load on this equilibrium, reducing ovarian function. I like to recommend meditation to my clients as well as taking some time for some self-care in their daily lives such as a magnesium salt bath, yoga or breathing exercises.

If you’d like to find out more about Jen Walpole or learn more about nutrition for fertility and ovulation, head to https://www.jenwalpole.com/.

 

Studies Mentioned:

Stress and Reproductive Axis 

Implantation and the Survival of Early Pregnancy

Role of Fatty Acids in Energy Provision During Oocyte Maturation and Early Embryo Development

Association between serum folate and vitamin B-12 and outcomes of assisted reproductive technologies

Prevalence and Predictors of Low Vitamin B6 Status in Healthy Young Adult Women in Metro Vancouver

Use of multivitamins, intake of B vitamins and risk of ovulatory infertility

Sex Hormones and Macronutrient Metabolism

Intake of protein-rich foods in relation to outcomes of infertility treatment with assisted reproductive technologies

Protein intake and ovulatory infertility

Effects of Alcohol on the Endocrine System

The Effects of Moderate Alcohol Consumption on Female Hormone Levels and Reproductive Function

About our regular contributor, Kate Davies:

Kate Davies (RN, BSc (Hons), FP Cert) is a registered Fertility Nurse Consultant and IVF coach with over 25 years of experience in fertility and women's health. She worked in the UK's National Health Service as a specialist nurse in Gynecology, Sexual and Contraceptive Health and Fertility for 20 years before founding Your Fertility Journey consultancy company. A member of the British Fertility Society and registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, she is a practitioner with Fertility UK where she receives regular training and clinical supervision. She has a special interest in both natural contraception and PCOS and has taken specialist training in the latter to enhance her knowledge and practice. She carries out consultations either using online video or at her Harley Street Clinic in London, providing both emotional support and clinical advice to her patients.  In 2017, Your Fertility Journey was awarded Best Fertility Consultancy UK by Lux Health, Beauty and Wellness Awards, and in 2019 were given the title of Best Fertility Consultancy and Best Fertility Nurse by GHP's Alternative Medicine and Holistic Health Awards. Find her on LinkedIn, follow her on Instagram at @your_fertility_journey, and listen to her on The Fertility Podcast.

Kate Davies - Independent Fertility Nurse
Your Fertility Journey

Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.