We know that nutrition is a cornerstone for health and wellness, and during conception and pregnancy, nutrition has an even bigger role. You not only eat to nourish your own body, but also to nurture the baby you will carry. Good nutrition is key for proper fetal development and has a direct impact on the child’s health after.
When undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments, choosing the right foods will support your body and may even improve the outcomes, by hopefully, getting pregnant with an embryo transfer. In modern times almost all surrogates are gestational carriers, meaning that they get pregnant with surro babies through IVF. What you eat affects your hormones and uterine lining, so paying extra care to your diet during your cycles of IVF may seem stressful at first but it could lead to better results.
What’s the Best Diet for IVF?
One key aspect of IVF success seems to be a diet packed with anti-inflammatory compounds, and in that regard, the Mediterranean diet appears to be the best choice. The Mediterranean diet is a plant-based dietary pattern with its roots in the traditional cuisines of Greece, Italy, and other Mediterranean Sea countries. Is one of the most researched and well-known dietary patterns worldwide, linked to a slew of health benefits, including higher success rates for IVF.
The Mediterranean diet focuses mainly on plant-based foods like veggies, legumes, whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices, with protein intake of fish, meat, dairy, poultry, eggs, and healthy fats, like olive oil and avocados.
Best Whole Foods to Support Your IFV Treatment
Let’s review what are the best nutrients to support your IFV treatment and how to include them based on a Mediterranean-style diet.
What exactly does the Mediterranean diet entail?
To give an idea of the types of foods to expect in an anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet, see the below food suggestions:
- Healthy Servings of Cruciferous and Non-Starchy Vegetables
- Nuts and Seeds
- Free-Range Organic Eggs
- Free-Range Organic Poultry
- Grass-Fed Red Meat
- Olive, Avocado and Coconut Oil
- Wild Caught Fish
- Fruits (in moderation because they can have high sugar)
- Legumes like beans (good for plant-based protein)
- Whole Grains (in moderation)
- Dairy Products such as Yogurt, Cheese, Milk (in moderation)
What Foods Should IVF Patients Avoid?
Processed and fast foods, especially the ones high in sugars, and saturated fats like store-bought baked goods, desserts, ice cream, breakfast cereals, pop-tarts, frozen meals, and processed or smoked meats are known to increase low-grade inflammation.
This is generally an unwanted scenario, but even more so when undergoing IFV treatment since there is a known link that it can negatively affect your chances of success.
Moreover, this is not the time to do any major dietary changes, like going gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan, and so on, if you weren’t already on board.
What Are the Best Nutrients to Support IVF Treatment?
Folic acid is a B vitamin crucial both before and during pregnancy. Folic acid, or vitamin B9, is essential for the proper development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Moreover, folic acid may support fetal implantation and growth.
Fill your plate with dark green veggies, like spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, and bok choy. Dried beans and lentils are also great options to include in your Mediterranean-style diet.
Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal foods such as meat, poultry, dairy products, organ meats, and eggs. Alongside folic acid, vitamin B12 is key for improving fetal implantation and growth. Moreover, this vitamin helps you make red blood cells and supports your nervous system.
While on the Mediterranean diet try to limit your intake of red and poultry to organic free-range and grass fed food brands. Also include fatty fish (either fresh, frozen, or canned) like salmon, trout, and tuna.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for cell division in your growing embryo as well as for improving uterine blood flow, leading to higher chances of IVF success and birth. Moreover, DHA and EPA fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon, trout, and tuna are needed for proper brain and nerve fetal development. Walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are also great plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids to include daily.
You need iron to make enough hemoglobin for you and the baby. Hemoglobin is the protein responsible for carrying oxygen within the red blood cells, and transporting it to every cell. Your iron requirements double up during pregnancy. And with low iron levels, also known as anemia, you may suffer from fatigue, headaches, higher risks of premature birth, and low birth weight baby, but you could also compromise your IVF success.
Along with red meat, a well-known iron source, you can get plenty of plant-based iron like pulses, nuts, raisins, apricots, dark leafy greens, and enriched whole-grain pasta or cereals.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium is the main component of your and the soon-to-be baby’s bones and teeth, it also plays a major role in the circulatory, muscular, and nervous systems. And to ensure good calcium absorption, you also need vitamin D.
While we all know low-fat dairy products are high in calcium, there are also plenty of plant-based sources recommended in the Mediterranean diet like white beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, almonds, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, kale, collard greens, and broccoli.
Vitamin D’s main source is skin exposure to sunlight, but fatty fish, egg yolks, mushrooms, and low-fat fortified dairy are also great choices.
About the Author:
Eva De Angelis is a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, chef, and writer from Argentina, passionate about everything related to food & nutrition. With several years of experience in healthy cooking workshops, she specializes in food and nutrition education in different settings promoting healthy lifestyles to manage chronic disease.Learn More