We know that what we eat impacts our health. Looking to conceive via IVF? The Mediterranean Diet may be just what the doctor ordered.
A recent study looked at 244 women using in-vitro fertilization, or IVF, to conceive. Those younger than 35 who followed the Mediterranean diet for six months prior to IVF procedures were more likely to get pregnant and have healthy babies. Women in the study were between the ages of 22 and 41 years old.
According to the study in Human Reproduction, women in that group had a 65 to 68 percent “greater likelihood of achieving a successful pregnancy and birth compared to women with the lowest adherence to the Mediterranean-style diet.”
Remember, the women were from Greece—a place where eating on this plan is quite common (along with people in Italy and Spain).
The Mediterranean diet is said to be good for heart health as well as general health. It focuses on eating plenty of fruits and veggies, as well as peas, beans, unrefined cereals, fish and vegetable oil. Red meat is very limited on this diet.
“The important message from our study is that women attempting fertility should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet,” study co-author Nikos Yiannakouris of the Harokopio University of Athens said.
The researchers say that they can’t conclude that following the Mediterranean diet is what caused better IVF outcomes. Findings do not apply to all women trying to conceive, nor to obese women (as they were not included).
Sharon Palmer, RDN, who is known as The Plant-Powered Dietitian, said that the study could not guarantee fertility or take into account obesity–a major factor in fertility, she added—but it points us in the “right direction” to “how we should be eating for the best odd chances of fertility.”
“It is rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, vitamins such as vitamin C and folic acid, iron from plants, and healthy fats such as omega-3s and mono and poly unsaturated fats,” she said.
That’s why she’s not surprised that the women following the diet had positive outcomes.
Pass the Olive Oil
This isn’t the first time researchers have looked at this diet as it relates to reproductive health. Several studies have touted it for healthy pregnancies. Keep in mind, though, lots of the foods in the diet are generally healthy during pregnancy.
“Previous research has linked diets focusing on healthy fats, plant-based proteins, whole grains, and vegetarian iron sources with improved fertility,” Palmer told HelloFlo.
“These results are not surprising,” she added.
Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, New York dietitian nutritionists known as The Nutrition Twins, think it’s smart for women to follow a Mediterranean eating plan. “A Mediterranean diet is a healthy diet that is a good source of the needed nutrients for a healthy diet, including phytonutrients, antioxidants, folate, omega 3 vitamins, calcium, iron, and many other essential vitamins and minerals that help a woman to deliver a healthy baby,” they said. “Plus, this diet is very heart healthy, encouraging blood flow, helping to deliver nutrients and oxygen to throughout the body, including to the placenta and the baby .”