Harvard Mental Health Letter

Follow The Fertility Diet?

Adapted from The Fertility Diet (McGraw-Hill) by Jorge E. Chavarro, M.D., Walter C. Willett, M.D., and Patrick J. Skerrett.

If you have been having trouble getting pregnant—or getting pregnant again—forget about the so-called fertility foods like oysters and champagne, garlic, ginseng, kelp, and yams. The true fertility foods are whole grains, healthy fats, excellent protein packages, and even the occasional bowl of ice cream. This isn't just wishful thinking. Instead, it comes from the first comprehensive examination of diet and fertility, an eight-year study of more than 18,000 women that uncovered ten evidence-based suggestions for improving fertility. This work, from the landmark Nurses' Health Study, fills a critical information gap on diet and fertility.

The recommendations that follow are aimed at preventing and reversing ovulatory infertility, which accounts for one quarter or more of all cases of infertility. They won't work for infertility due to physical impediments like blocked fallopian tubes. And they aren't meant to replace a conversation with a clinician about whether an infertility work-up is needed. The strategies described below don't guarantee a pregnancy any more than do in vitro fertilization or other forms of assisted reproduction. But it's virtually free, available to everyone, has no side effects, sets the stage for a healthy pregnancy, and forms the foundation of a healthy eating strategy for motherhood and beyond. That's a winning combination no matter how you look at it.

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