Most dietitians and nutritional therapist will confirm that the best results are when you start about 3 months before beginning any ART. When you are just thinking about starting a family.
The quality of the egg and sperm can be improved, and it helps to reduce the physical and emotional impact of the hormone treatments. Many of my clients find that good nutrition therapy at this stage is sufficient to help them conceive naturally.
Once you have successfully conceived, a nutrition therapist or dietitian can help to ensure that the baby develops well by helping you to have optimum nutrition and health during the pregnancy.
Those first few weeks, even before you know you are pregnant, is when the most important structures and organs are being formed in the baby.
Nutritional Therapy should help clients to achieve fertility success by using strategies personalised to their individual and unique circumstances.
First, we clean up the diet. What I mean by this is that dietitians and therapists will guide clients through a process whereby they systematically eliminate or reduce Harmful Substances that could be interfering with fertility. For example removing endocrine disruptors, phytoestrogens, pesticides, alcohol and caffeine. The food safety rules for pregnancy to help women avoid harmful bacteria is also important from the time egg is implanted to prevent miscarriage in the early stage of pregnancy. So I will also cover this aspect with my clients.
Then dietitians and nutritional therapists will correct nutritional deficiencies through a healthy balanced diet that is rich in those nutrients that help to support healthy sperm and eggs. For example minerals such as iodine, zinc, iron, and selenium; the right balance of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, the right amount of good quality protein (vegetarians or non-vegetarians); B-vitamins like B6, B12, and folate. A little known fact is that B-vitamin deficiency in the fathers’ diet can produce sperm look normal but have an increase the risk of causing miscarriages.
Clients should be helped to switch from high glycaemic index foods, the kind of carbs that bound your blood sugar around and throw your metabolism out of whack. And helped to replace them with low glycaemic index foods, the healthy carbs that help to regulate your metabolism. Because some of the hormones that are important for fertility need carbs, so if you only just cut out the carbs you might actually be harming your fertility.
For many of my clients, they find that their weight tends to naturally move to a healthy level as they make the changes in stages 1 and 2. However, for some clients, they need additional support to either lose or gain weight in a way that does not compromise fertility. Achieving a weight before starting fertility treatment can significantly improve its success. We need a certain amount of body fat to support healthy hormone levels, good quality sperm and eggs, and mother need it to support the healthy development of the baby during pregnancy. However, too much body fat increases the number of inflammatory chemicals in the body, causes insulin resistance, and excess oestrogen levels. These changes reduce fertility and increase the risk of something going wrong during pregnancy.
The process of cleaning up the diet to clear out harmful substances from your body, correcting nutritional deficiencies, and achieving a healthy weight can take about 2-3 months.
So most Dietitians and Nutritional Therapists will recommend that if you are planning to have fertility treatment, you should begin a nutrition program about 3 months before you start treatment.