I was fortunate enough to be asked by a media company to work with a journalist and write a column on Fertility and diet. This was fascinating for me as it meant I spent some time reading the research on this area and brushing up my knowledge. The article is at the end of this post.
There has been some good research showing:
There is a U-shaped relationship between weight and fertility, with lower fertility rates in obese and underweight women, so you have the best chances of concieving when you are a healthy BMI.
Caffeine should be restricted to <300mg/d (1-2 cups tea/coffee). More than this is linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and poor fetal growth. Caffiene has a prolonged half life meaning it hangs around in the body so you really want to cut down the caffeine before you become pregnant.
A large piece of research calls the Nurses Health study followed 17,000 plus women who were trying to conceive over a period of 8 yrs. The study showed that healthy eating is key. Women eating less trans fats, more monounsaturated fats (heart healthy fats such as olives and avocardo), more plant protein, high fat dairy products, high fibre, low glycaemic index carboydrates and more iron that comes from plants had higher fertility rates.
There is some research to suggest over exercising and infertility may be linked. Although it is not proven that it is the exercise that causes the infertility, it makes sense as over exercising can stress the body and lead to being underweight, which are things we know affect fertility.
This week I was interviewed and quoted by a newspaper about a book written on personality and dieting. Daniel Amen thinks that there are 5 types of overeater – compulsive, impulsive, compulsive-impulsive, emotional and anxious overeaters. He suggests that each group of person should avoid certain foods and eat more of others in order to lose weight. This is all based on brain patterns as Daniel is a neuroscientist.
Personally I agree that there are different types of overeaters and personality does definitely affect the way people eat. We all know people who eat more when they are anxious and others who just have to eat food if its in the house but can resist if its not there. It would be right to say that different personalities respond to different approaches. For example some people work well with tackling their body image first, others want practical goals and some need a focus on activity. However I don’t agree with the food advice that Mr Amen gives. Whatever type of person you are a healthy balanced diet is key to weight loss combined with activity. The key ingredient is to have a personalised plan that suits your lifestyle and your food likes/dislikes. If your eating plan and activity plan are not based on things that you enjoy you are not likely to stick to them! Cutting out food groups like carbohydrate is never a good idea no matter what your personality.
My other thought is that some people may use this concept as an excuse… “well I can’t lose weight easily due to my personality. ” In admit it is really not easy to lose weight, it takes time, dedication and lots of hard work, sweat plus some tears, but the health benefits are amazing. Losing 10% of your body weight if you are overweight reduces your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, it can help improve your overall sense of well being and your ability to go about everyday life.
Don’t put your health on hold, get your nutrition and activity sorted out as a matter of priority, it really will change your life.
Freelance Dietitian specialising in helping those with Eating Disorders and a Media Spokesperson for the profession.