One of the main ways nutrition and lifestyle can play a positive role in improving a female’s fertility is by optimising the quality of her eggs. Unfortunately, as women age, the quality of eggs start to decline leading to increased amounts of genetic abnormalities in a lot of the eggs. Once the egg’s DNA is significantly impaired, it cannot be fertilised, even with the help of artificial reproduction techniques. The good news is that nutrition can really help with minimising the damage to egg health as women age and therefore increase the chances of fertilisation, the development of a normal embryo and optimising the success of the pregnancy. The following points are some key areas to focus on for optimising egg quality health.
As is the case with male fertility, the omega 3 fatty acids also play an important role in female fertility. Research has shown that a diet high in omega 3 can increase the lifespan of a woman’s eggs in addition to improving the quality. It is thought that the omega 3 fatty acids support how the cell is able to function and also support healthy DNA within the egg.
Antioxidant rich food
Eggs in older women have more oxidative damage in them due to a reduction in antioxidant enzymes in the eggs themselves, in addition to older women producing more oxidising compounds. Fortunately, research has shown that this oxidative stress can be halted or reversed by consuming a diet rich in antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables are very high in antioxidants so aiming to get a minimum of 5 portions per day is a good place to start, in particular aiming for a variety throughout the week in order to fully benefit from the diverse range of antioxidants present in the different types of fruit and vegetables. Additional sources of antioxidants include olive oil, nuts and seeds, spices and herbs.
Maintaining a healthy weight
Some research indicates that being obese can reduce egg quality due to increased systemic inflammation and the presence of a higher amount of reactive oxygen species, both of which can negatively impact how an egg matures. Research suggests that it can take longer for women with a BMI of over 30 to conceive. Furthermore, for women that are going through IVF, it has been reported that those with a BMI of over 30 have eggs which are smaller and so have a reduced chance of getting fertilised. Ultimately, weight management is one part of a jigsaw when it comes to optimising fertility and it should be stressed that if attempting to lose weight, it is important to not follow an overly restrictive diet as over-restricting, crash diets and FAD diets will likely result in missing out key nutrients, which will further decrease the chances of conceiving.
Some studies have suggested that there are certain supplements that can help specifically with preserving egg quality. Zinc is important for an egg to be able to develop and mature optimally and so if you are deficient in this nutrient or you are not getting enough through your diet, then this can have a significant impact on your fertility. If wishing to try a food first approach, some good dietary sources of zinc include lean red meat, wholegrain carbohydrates, beans, nuts and seeds (in particular sesame seeds. Studies have shown that supplementation of Coenzyme Q10 can help to reduce the age-related egg quality decline. A food-first approach can also be tried initially by increasing your consumption of organ meats, oily fish and wholegrain carbohydrates. Again, if you are considering a supplement to help improve your egg health, it is important to discuss with a healthcare professional to ascertain whether this is the best option for you.
Nutrition can play an important role to help improve a couple’s fertility, through targeting both the woman’s and the man’s dietary habits. In order for changes to be effective, it is important for the couple to be consistent and ideally, to start making changes 3 months before trying to conceive. If you want to save yourself the time & hassle of trying to figure it all out on your own, consider applying to my signature couple's fertility deepdive programme.
In these sessions, alongside a personalised diet plan to help boost yours and your partner's fertility, I will create your very own fertility supplement protocol so that you can feel confident that you're taking the right supplements to optimise your fertility & give your future baby the best start in life. Alternatively, click on this link for a FREE discovery call where we can discuss the different ways I can help you boost your fertility.