Eating more fruit and cutting out fast food could help improve fertility in women and reduce the time it takes to get pregnant, according to a new study.
Fertility studies don’t often examine the impact that diet has on conception beyond those who are in the process of fertility treatments, and the results show that eating fast food multiple times a week reduces the chances of conceiving within a year.
The study was conducted by research midwives in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland and led by the University of Adelaide, Australia. The research was published in the journal Human Reproduction.
For the study, 5598 women were asked about their diet and how long it took to conceive during their first prenatal or antenatal visit after 14 to 16 weeks of pregnancy. The midwives asked how much fruit, leafy vegetables, fish and fast food each woman consumed the month before getting pregnant.
The women were part of the multi-center Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints (SCOPE) study from 2004 and 2011 and the majority of the participants had not received any fertility treatments before conception.
“Most of the women did not have a history of infertility. We adjusted the relationships with pre-pregnancy diet to take account of several factors known to increase the risk of infertility, including elevated body mass index [BMI] and maternal age, smoking, and alcohol intake,” said Jessica Grieger, the study’s first author. “As diet is a modifiable factor, our findings underscore the importance of considering preconception diet to support timely conception for women planning pregnancy.”
Fruit and fast food had a major impact on the study’s results and women who ate fruit less than one to three times a month took half a month longer to conceive.
For those women who frequently ate fast food, the researchers found that it took almost a month longer to conceive compared to those who rarely ate fast food.
The researchers also found that not eating fruit increased the risk of infertility from 8 percent to 12 percent, and eating fast food four or more times a week increased infertility risk from 8 percent to 16 percent.
“These findings show that eating a good quality diet that includes fruit and minimizing fast food consumption improves fertility and reduces the time it takes to get pregnant,” said Claire Roberts, the leader of the research.
There are some limitations to the study as any research that relies on data from recalled information isn’t wholly reliable and there might have been other influencing factors that the researchers didn’t consider.
However, even with the uncertain variables in the study, the researchers are confident in the results.
“We recommend that women who want to become pregnant should align their dietary intakes towards national dietary recommendations for pregnancy,” said Grieger. “Our data show that frequent consumption of fast foods delays time to pregnancy.”
By Kay Vandette, Earth.com Staff Writer