Fruit, fertility and conception.
Eating food for better health is a priority when pregnant, but a study led by Professor Claire Roberts, from the University of Adelaide, suggests how important diet quality can be pre-pregnancy, with those who regularly eat fast food and not enough fruit more likely to struggle to conceive.
Lifestyle factors, such as smoking and obesity, have long been associated with a longer ‘time to pregnancy’ or infertility, but the role of a preconception diet in women remains poorly studied in the modern era. Ironically, Weston Price in the 1930’s noted that indigenous peoples often had specialised diets for women who were planning to conceive.
Healthier foods or dietary patterns have long been associated with improved fertility. However studies have often focused on women already diagnosed with or receiving treatments for infertility. This study looked at the general population, examining the issue with an eye of the modern problem of processed food. The survey of over 5,500 women in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland found those who ate fast food four or more times a week took nearly a month longer to get pregnant than those who never or rarely ate it. Regular junk food eaters were also less likely to conceive within a year, the report in Human Reproduction found.
Most interesting was the importance of fruit. Researchers found the women who had eaten fruit less than one to three times a month took on average half a month longer to become pregnant than those who had eaten it three or more times a day. They also calculate that the women with the lowest intake of fruit had a 12% risk of having been unable to conceive within a year, while this was 16% for those who had eaten fast food four or more times a week. There were limitations to the study, with other factors capable of influencing the outcome, so more research is required, but bearing in mind how many young women now seem to be shying away from fruit because of fear of carbs and sugar, they may be creating problems for themselves later when they wish to conceive.
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