Women who followed a combination of five or more lifestyle factors, including changing specific aspects of their diets, experienced more than 80 percent less relative risk of infertility due to ovulatory disorders, according to a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
"The key message of this paper is that making the right dietary choices and including the right amount of physical activity in your daily life may make a large difference in your probability of becoming fertile if you are experiencing problems with ovulation," said Walter Willett, from the Harvard School of Public Health and senior author of the study.
Ovulatory problems have been identified in 18 to 30 percent of infertility cases. Dietary and lifestyle factors that were found to predict ovulatory disorder infertility included:
- The ratio of mono-unsaturated to trans fats in diet
- Protein consumption (derived from animals or vegetables)
- Carbohydrates consumption (including fiber intake and dietary glycemic index)
- Dairy consumption (low- and high-fat dairy)
- Iron consumption
- Multivitamin use
- Body mass index
- Physical activity
The women with the highest fertility ratings ate less trans fat and sugar from carbohydrates, consumed more protein from vegetables than from animals, ate more fiber and iron, took more multivitamins, had a lower BMI, exercised for longer periods of time each day, and, surprisingly, consumed more high-fat dairy products and less low-fat dairy products.
"As women started following more of these recommendations, their risk of infertility dropped substantially for every one of the dietary and lifestyle strategies undertaken. In fact, we found a six-fold difference in ovulatory infertility risk between women following five or more low-risk dietary and lifestyle habits and those following none," noted researcher Jorge Chavarro.
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Source: Harvard School of Public Health