I was recently contacted by writer Tania of Trying To Conceive requesting to be a guest writer on my blog. I have to say, I love her site – incredibly informative on how nutrition affects TTC, as well as more great research on TTC in general. Enjoy!
Physical Preparation for IVF: Nutrition and Exercise
When woman is undergoing IVF, there is a great deal she can do improve her chances of successful IVF treatment, minimize possible side effects of drugs, and prepare her body to recover afterwards. I am talking about mental, nutritional and physical preparation of a woman who is trying to conceive.
If that is possible woman should prepare at least 2 months before an IVF cycle: in that case she should detox, which should help clean most toxins from her body and in case she is overweight, also get rid of some excess weight. Detoxification diets are also often advisable between the cycles. Detoxification diet does not mean starving: it is aimed to clean the body of toxins. Women should avoid coffee, alcohol, medications, smoking and smoky atmospheres, and should also reduce salt from her diet. Studies show both smoking and alcohol consumption lower result pregnancy rates and expose woman to a greater risk of miscarriage. Caffeine has been shown to affect fertility, even in small amounts, and as little as one cup in the morning can reduce her chances of conceiving as much as 50%, so she should try to avoid caffeine completely. If woman is taking other prescription medications (except Tylenol and prenatal vitamins), she should check with a fertility specialist prior to beginning treatment cycle. It is also advisable to avoid chocolate, sugary foods, salty snacks, processed foods, tea, cola and all fizzy drinks.
A healthy well-balanced diet works best: drinking at least 8 glasses of (bottled) water and eating healthy, including in diet lean meat, wholegrains, veggies and fruit. On the other hand, during IVF cycle any kind of changes or even weight loss attempts should be strictly avoided.
Healthy preconception nutrition is balanced in vitamins, including vitamin C and E that help enrich the fluid which surrounds and nourishes woman’s eggs and to help her repair quickly after the egg retrieval, enabling readiness to receive the incoming embryos. Zinc is essential mineral for hormone production, and magnesium and vitamin A are vital for egg production. Selenium and magnesium are both important because they improve fertilization rates, and iron and Co-enzyme Q10 are important because they both enrich the womb lining. Healthy essential fatty acids are vitally important because they help balancing hormones and support ovarian health, and are found in fish, olive oil, flaxseed oil, nuts …
Prior to IVF cycle woman should start taking a prenatal vitamin. Folic acid (folate) or B9 vitamin is extremely important in preconception time because it reduces brain and spinal defects in newborns. Every woman should include in her diet nutrients that are rich in folic acid (green leafy vegetables, whole grains etc) or should consume 400 mcg of folic acid supplements on daily basis approximately 3 months before conceiving (800 mcg during pregnancy).
Some fertility clinics believe that a diet low in salt and potassium, and a diet high in proteins can help avoid hyperstimulation.
For example, Gatorade is one of a energy drinks that woman should avoid because it contains large amounts of salt, which prevents hyperstimulation. As already said, water is most advisable, but at certain stages of OHSS, too much fluid can have detrimental, therefore moderation is the key.
The best quality protein foods in terms of amino acid balance are eggs, especially egg whites, soya, lean meat such as chicken breasts, fish, beans, lentils, nuts and quinoa. Avoid too many dairy products and always eat organic meat.
If woman is used to exercise regularly, she should continue with the activities unless the enlargement of ovaries causes discomfort. Nevertheless, she should exercise moderately and avoid all kinds of strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, or aerobic exercise. Since the hormonal system shuts down and prepares for IVF, woman’s body needs to rest. For this reason, activities that include gentle exercise such as yoga and walking are perfectly fine. Physical preparation also includes avoiding hot tubs, jacuzzis, saunas and sun bathing.
Some studies claim that acupuncture is very beneficial for women preparing for IVF. Acupuncture treatment performed by certified acupuncturist will help her improve the flow of blood and energy to reproductive organs, will balance her body, and build up the womb lining, grow follicles and thus help her with implantation.