Just the term ‘Mediterranean lifestyle’ conjures up a picture of health and wellbeing. Sun, blue skies, the sea, fresh fruit, Greek salads and siestas. So it makes sense that a Mediterranean diet should do wonders for your fertility.
However, we wanted proof, so we did some digging and discovered two great studies, then turned to Melanie Brown, top fertility nutritionist, to talk us through them.
Our wonderful expert Mel Brown, says that more often than not, men are sadly neglected in the whole IVF experience, so lets start with the question – is a Mediterranean diet really going to help improve the quality of you man’s sperm?
The simple answer is yes! As also revealed in a study carried out by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
The Study Question
‘Is adherence to the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) associated with better semen quality in men of subfertile couples attempting fertility?’
The Study Answer
‘Greater adherence to the MedDiet, as assessed through the validated Mediterranean diet score was significantly associated with higher sperm concentration, total sperm count and sperm motility.’
In the treatment of fertility issues or those preparing themselves for an IVF cycle, Mel sees quite a lot of men who are referred with male factor issues.
These can be for a variety of reasons such as high DNA fragmentation and low motility. It is so important to realise though that nutrition can improve the outcome for some male fertility issues and, yes, we hear it again, the cornerstone being the Mediterranean diet!
So what is the Mediterranean diet?
A Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea such as Italy, France, Greece and Spain and is largely based on a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, cereal grains, olive oil, fish and legumes. It features mostly fresh foods that have gone through minimal processing and involves using herbs and spices for seasoning instead of salt.
This diet is full of healthy nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and low saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids, all associated with high sperm and good egg quality.
Mel highlights as an aside that although red onion is also very good for sperm, the king veg for sperm is watercress without a doubt as it has amazing DNA repairing properties. It really is a fantastic vegetable and one to note for the guys.
If one study on the Mediterranean Diet wasn’t enough, here is another that also concludes that changing our eating habits is so important when trying to conceive.
The Study Objective:
‘To investigate associations between preconception dietary patterns and IVF/ ICSI outcomes validated by biomarkers of the homocysteine pathway.’
‘A preconception ‘‘Mediterranean’’ diet by couples undergoing IVF/ICSI treatment contributes to the success of achieving pregnancy. ‘
So if you are trying to conceive, it is important to ensure you have foods packed with goodness to boost your fertility. Also taking proper exercise and maintaining your weight in the normal range (BMI 20 to 30) are the best preparations you can make. It’s also a good idea to limit your intake of white sugar, white bread, white rice and processed foods, salt and saturated fats.
Inspired by our friends at the fantastic fertility clinic, Embryolab, in Greece, we thought we would start by suggesting some of the delicious Greek meals the king of cuisine Jamie Oliver has to offer. Click here to read more
With summer now here, it’s the perfect time to get outside, soak up some vitamin D and tuck into some delicious fertility food al fresco. In fact, why not download an app with the sound of the waves lapping on the shore to really give your meal that complete Mediterranean feel!
Along with the gorgeous Mediterranean food you can be eating, Melanie’s advice is to have other ‘treats’.
Remember it’s not about putting yourself through a punishing regime, if you want to have a glass of wine too at the weekend, go ahead and do that. Try to ensure you have a really good glass of red wine though and enjoy it!