Dietary Advice for Women Trying to Conceive
Human Nutrition

Dietary Advice for Women Trying to Conceive

Infertility or the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse is affecting 1 out of 6 couples. This phenomenon is expected to increase in the coming decades as more couples delay parenthood. Data linking diet quality to infertility are sparse, particularly among couples trying to conceive without medical assistance. The current treatment options for infertility are often prohibitively expensive. Couples are, therefore, motivated to adopt diet and lifestyle habits to improve their chances of conceiving naturally. How can I change my diet to improve my fertility?

A recently published large cohort study reported that stronger adherence to the 4 dietary patterns—the alternate Mediterranean Diet, the Healthy Eating Index 2010, the Danish Dietary Guidelines Index, and the Dietary Inflammatory Index among women was associated with higher fecundability.[1] The results suggest substantial overlap between the dietary factors recommended for the prevention of major, chronic, noncommunicable diseases and those related to improved fertility.[1] However, the dietary pattern with the most consistent and strongest effect estimates across cohorts was the Dietary Inflammatory Index, a dietary pattern designed to minimize inflammation.[1] This is interesting as is not meant to measure adherence to a specific diet or government dietary recommendation, suggesting that the standard “healthy-eating” recommendations might not be the best advice when it comes to women trying to conceive.[1] This finding is also potentially problematic because we eat foods, not nutrients, making it difficult to directly translate the DII recommendations into dietary advice.

[1] Gaskins, Audrey J. 2022. Dietary advice for women trying to conceive: Can we do better than standard guidance?. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqac247.

Posted by Dr. Loke Wai Mun