Jenna Birch, reporting on Shape magazine’s Web site, describes an intriguing new study raising hopes that someday women might be able to increase their chances of getting pregnant by changing their diets.
For the study, Australian researchers put 858 mice on one of 25 diets involving various levels of proteins, carbohydrates, fat and calories. After 15 months, it was clear that the mice on high-protein, low-carb diets had more babies than the others. And that, the researchers said, had implications for older women who are having trouble conceiving.
“Instead of women with subfertility resorting immediately to invasive [in vitro fertilization] techniques,” study author Samantha Solon-Biet told Shape, “an alternative strategy may be developed to change the ratio of dietary macronutrients to improve female fertility. This would avoid the need for medical intervention, except in the most severe cases.”
Birch tried to put the recommendations in context by talking to nutrition experts. “I would caution women to not start eating 20-ounce steaks three times a day,” said dietitian Liz Weinandy. “If a woman wanted to go a little higher in protein intake, that would be fine — but focus on eating lean sources that are not highly processed.” (In other words, don’t wolf down more lunch meats and hot dogs.) Weinandy also said some experts believe that compounds found in full-fat dairy products are “beneficial for conception.”
Along with another dietitian, Jessica Marcus, Weinandy pointed out that older women trying to conceive need to maximize their health every way they can, including but not limited to diet. “The more we can do to maintain a healthy body,” Marcus said, “the better our chances.”