By Alex Scott
Infertility in Australia is on the rise with one in six couples women unable to become pregnant according to the Department of Health.
A recent study published in Human Reproduction found that pre-conception diets have an impact on the time taken to fall pregnant as well as cases of infertility.
The study found that women who consumed fast food once or less a week, had a 41 per cent reduction in the chance of infertility issues, compared to women who ate fast food four or more times a week.
The study also found similar results with women who ate fruit several times a month compared to several times a day – a 29 per cent increased risk of infertility.
Perth Dietician Evania Marlow agreed with the results. She said diet plays a vital role in pre-conception as well as during pregnancy.
“The research that’s come out in the last week…shows that eating a healthy balanced diet will increase chances of falling pregnant, whereas a diet poor in nutrition will lower your chances,” Marlow said.
She said the best way to ensure you’re eating well is to follow the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, and make sure you eat from appropriate food groups.
“Chances of falling pregnant are reduced if eating a high carbohydrate diet, high glycaemic,” Marlow said.
“Patients that have been on IVF and consume a high carbohydrate, high glycaemic, high energy diet are slower to get pregnant than someone on an energy-limited diet.”
Marlow stressed that during pregnancy it’s important to have a high folate (B3) intake and a healthy, balanced diet is needed to prevent birth defects, and ensure a healthy foetus.
Dietician Charlyn Ooi from the Specialist Dietitian Consultancy agreed. She said that if someone is trying to fall pregnant, their body needs to be on a healthy diet to improve fertility.
“Even though there is still research that needs to be done, we do know that having an unhealthy diet will reduce chances of being fertile and having a baby,” she said.
According to Ooi, healthy eating is about going back to the basics, eating fresh fruits, vegetables, a bit of meat, fish and plenty of whole grains.
She said the importance of a healthy diet extends beyond falling pregnant – it’s important for the entire pregnancy.
“A healthy diet will help provide the important nutrients to support pregnancy as well such as folate for example,” Ooi said.
“The recommendation is to take [Folate] a month before pregnancy to reduce the chance of neuron tube defects that can increase the chance of miscarriage.”