3 Nutrition Goals when Pursuing IVF
Prior to and during an IVF cycle, there are 3 major goals when it comes to nutrition.
- Replenish with key nutrients
- Support stable blood sugar
- Reduce inflammation
Attention to nutrition offers best possible IVF outcomes due to the impact on egg quality, sperm health, uterine lining, hormone signaling and more. The benefits impact you beyond IVF. You also maintain mom’s future health throughout pregnancy and postpartum, and lay the foundation for a healthy baby.
It’s a great idea to be conscientious about your nutrition at least 3 months before starting fertility medications. Then throughout the IVF cycle, each of the 3 nutrition goals must be addressed: replenish key nutrients; support stable blood sugar; and reduce inflammation.
Replenish with key nutrients
In the weeks leading up to egg retrieval, replenishing key nutrients tops the list of the 3 nutrition goals. While a good-quality prenatal supplement is a good idea, also focus on nutrients from fresh food.
Amp up your diet by including:
- A wide diversity of vegetables helps to ensure you’re getting a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to prepare your body for the nutrient-intensive journey to come. Make it a goal to incorporate dark leafy greens and seasonal produce every day.
- Omega-3 fats from cold-water fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring), oysters, flaxseeds, chia seeds and pastured eggs.
Some key nutrients come from animal sources, so if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, we suggest seeking the support of a nutritionist.
Leading up to and through transfer is the time to place extra attention on reducing inflammation in the body. Excess, chronic inflammation leads to high output of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol disrupts hormone balance, egg maturation, as well as implantation.
In addition to actively incorporating a diversity of seasonal vegetables and sources of omega-3 fats:
- Avoid processed and fried food as much as possible. Packaged food is an unfortunate source of chemical additives and industrial vegetable oils, and fried food also delivers a dose oftrans fats. Cooking at home or selective sourcing of meals is the best way to avoid these inflammatory ingredients.
- Reduce refined sugar. Excess sugar is known to be inflammatory for anyone, and not only problematic for those with metabolic conditions like PCOS or diabetes. Instead, experiment with including a portion of sweet whole foods into your meals. For example, sweet potato, beets, carrots, butternut squash and seasonal fruit.
- Reduce gluten and dairy. They’re known to be inflammatory for many, and while you may not need to remove them entirely, you can benefit from minimizing them on your plate. For example, instead of a sandwich, toss the same fixings on a bed of quinoa and leafy greens. If you had cheese on the sandwich, add vitamin and mineral-rich avocado instead.
Support stable blood sugar
Blood sugar that stays relatively stable throughout the day is optimal for health, especially during an IVF cycle. Otherwise, extreme dips and spikes in blood sugar negatively affect IVF outcomes, in part due the impact on hormone balance and inflammation which have implications on egg quality and implantation.
A couple key principals do wonders to help keep blood sugar relatively stable:
- Eat regular meals. An IVF cycle is not the time to skip meals. Rather, have breakfast within 90 minutes of waking up or soon after morning physical activity. Eat a satiating meal midday and again in the evening at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. If there’s longer than 6 hours between meals, be sure to have a snack as well.
- Fill your plate with PFF, that’s protein, healthy fats and fiber. These combine to slow the impact of higher-glycemic foods on your blood sugar. Protein can come from animal or plant sources. Healthy fats include avocado, olives, coconut, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds and organic dairy. For fiber, think about adding a plant, especially a vegetable to your plate. Each time you eat, do a check for PFF.
If you are interested in nutrition support for IVF, but have more questions, we encourage you to reach out for a free consultation with Bonnie at Burgess Wellness. Bonnie is a holistic functional nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, and a trusted partner of Lokahi Acupuncture.
Bonnie is a holistic functional nutritionist who specializes in women’s health and fertility including patients undergoing ART. She uses a “food first” approach to determine individual nutritional needs coupled with lifestyle modifications and possible nutrient supplementation. Bonnie lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she serves an international client base through a 100% virtual consultancy at Burgess Wellness.