Undergoing IVF can be a difficult process that will require a lot from your body.
So it is important to help your body gain the right amount of sustenance to boost energy and strength.
Your diet plays a major role. What you eat or not eat can make or break the outcome and success of an IVF treatment.
What’s the best time to start an IVF Diet?
It’s always good to eat healthy at any point in life.
But if you are about to undergo an IVF treatment, two to three months before each cycle is the best time to start a healthy IVF diet.
Check your body’s condition by consulting your doctor.
Get a full blood work panel to pinpoint the areas that need special attention.
Then address your nutritional needs with medical backing.
My IVF diet and what should I eat?
Like all healthy diets, your IVF diet should have the appropriate amounts of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats, water) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
To know the right amount, you can check the Recommended Dietary Allowances outlined by the Institute of Medicine (US). Of course, counting grams to the letter is quite impossible. But it is good to have some sort of guide. A balanced diet, that is what you are aiming for.
As your source of protein, choose lean meats like fish and poultry. But be careful about the seafood. Don’t eat uncooked fish or meats though to avoid complications. Raw seafood can cause infections and fish, in general, contains a lot of mercury. So not too much of that as well. It is even better if you follow a Mediterranean diet. It emphasizes fruit and vegetables, chicken and a bit of fish.
Dairy products are excellent sources of protein. But it is best to consume only low-fat. Eggs are great protein sources too, but avoid eating them raw. And remember, always in moderation.
You may think it’s unhealthy but carbohydrates are actually very helpful to the body. It is the greatest source of energy, and you need a lot of energy when you go through IVF. But choose the right kind. Whole grains, like quinoa, farro and whole-grain pasta. Legumes are great too, along with beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
Fats are not bad for you either. Well, the good kind. Trans-saturated fat is the bad one. Junk food is loaded with them, so avoid them at all costs. Choose instead the healthy fatty acids and unsaturated fats that provide your body with lots of energy reserves. Good fats also help in breaking down nutrients so your body can absorb them. You can find them in walnuts, corn, olive oil, flaxseed oil, avocados and many more.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to drink enough water. Water helps maintain a good balance of different elements in the body. It aids circulation too. Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day. That would be 1 glass every hour, so it’s easier to remember.
What should I not eat while on IVF diet?
Just as there are dos in an IVF diet, there are also don’ts. First off, do not eat raw eggs. They might contain salmonella virus, which can cause food poisoning. Even if they are mixed in salads, eggnog or biscuit batter, avoid them. In fact, avoid eating raw foods in general, except maybe with fruits and nuts.
Also, avoid foods with artificial sweeteners. Most contain saccharin that reduces success rates of IVF. So instead of artificial sugars, use sucralose-based sweeteners or natural sweetening syrups instead. Honey can be a great substitute.
Avoid refined sugar as well. Even just small amounts can raise your blood sugar levels instantly. Sugar is a feel-good food, but eating it often puts a load on the liver, which will produce more insulin to combat the rising blood sugar level. Your body might develop insulin resistance, which directly affects fertility.
Alcohol is a definite no-no. So if you’re an avid drinker, best to stop now. Alcohol causes erratic ovulation and sometimes fetal impairment. Similarly, caffeine-rich coffee and tea and other beverages are best limited or not consumed at all during IVF.
Although dairy products are usually good, there are certain types of cheese that are not good for IVF. They may contain bacteria and lead to infection. Do not use unpasteurized milk at all, and avoid soft cheeses like camembert and brie that have a blue tinge in them.
What are the added supplements?
Months (or at least 30 days) before you begin your IVF cycle, start taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid. It is very important in protecting developing fetuses from the brain and spinal birth defects. It can also help boost your partner’s sperm health.
Also, take fish oil, which can support embryonic development. Take Vitamin D supplements as well to prevent autism. But before you take them, consult your doctor first to make sure they are safe and do not interfere with your protocol.
Zinc helps in balancing your levels of hormones. It’s best to eat foods that are rich with this mineral. The daily requirement is 15 milligrams of zinc. You can take supplements but it is better to consume zinc-rich foods. These include dairy products, grains, potatoes and nuts and a few meat.
You should also include foods rich in folic acid in your IVF diet. It is essential to ensure that the embryo is healthy and free of developmental disorders. Foods rich in folic acid include peas, spinach, broccoli, kiwi, poultry products and tofu.
IVF Diet favorites
Top five favorites in an IVF Diet:
- Fresh Orange Juice
But every now and then, we see studies suggesting certain foods that are said to help women in IVF (Check our Free eBook on IVF treatments). Pineapple and avocados seem to be the most common.
Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which helps soften your cervix and bring on labor. But you would need to eat 8 pineapples to have this effect. You can’t do that and you shouldn’t. The benefit of pineapple is more as a source of Vitamin C. One cup already contains a pregnant woman’s recommended daily intake.
Avocados are known to be good for pregnant women and for women undergoing IVF. Consuming them improves the health of areas responsible for ovulation. It is rich in mono-saturated fats, which are conducive to the IVF process.
Other IVF diet favorites include broccoli, strawberries, oatmeal, bananas, brazil nuts, dried figs, salmon, tomatoes, blueberries, spinach, fresh orange juice, anchovies, smoked trout, wheat germ, low-fat yogurt, wholemeal or wholewheat bread, brown rice, kale, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, cabbage, mango, sweet potatoes, melons, walnuts, pomegranate, eggs, hummus, and chicken.
There are also some fertility enhancing foods like royal jelly, fish roe, caviar, pollen, seaweed, algae, bone marrow, oysters, artichoke, nettles, goji berries and sprouts.
Now you simply cannot eat all in one go. So maybe pick some in a week and intersperse eating them in your IVF diet plan. It still boils down to a healthy balanced diet, one that is rich in nutrients, to nurture and nourish your tired and overworked body.
Best of all, consult an expert. Dunya IVF, in the beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus, can help you with your questions regarding nutrition and IVF. Click here for help.