Mediterranean diet ‘may help’ women receiving IVF treatment

Research study suggests fresh fruit, fish, olive oil improves chances of becoming pregnant

A Mediterranean diet may help women receiving in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to achieve successful pregnancies, according to new research.

A Mediterranean diet may help women receiving in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to achieve successful pregnancies, according to new research.

 

A Mediterranean diet may help women receiving in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to achieve successful pregnancies, according to new research.

Women who follow a diet of fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, fish and olive oil in the six months before assisted reproductive treatment have a significantly better chance of becoming pregnant and giving birth to a baby than women who did not.

The research was carried out by the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Harokopio University of Athens and is published on Tuesday in the journal Human Reproduction.

Researchers asked women about their food intake before they underwent IVF treatment and found those who followed a Mediterranean diet had a 65-68 per cent greater likelihood of achieving a successful pregnancy and birth compared to those with the lowest adherence to the diet.

The researchers assessed the diet of 244 women via a food frequency questionnaire when they enrolled at an Assisted Conception Unit in Athens for their first IVF treatment. The women were aged between 22 and 41 and were classified as ‘non-obese’.

Prof Nikos Yiannakouris said: “The important message from our study is that women attempting fertility should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet.

“It should be noted that when it comes to conceiving a baby, diet and lifestyle are just as important for men as for women. Previous work from our research group among the male partners of our study has suggested that adherence to the Mediterranean diet may also help improve semen quality,” he added.

“Taken together, these findings highlight the importance of dietary influences and diet quality on fertility, and support a favourable role for the Mediterranean diet on assisted reproduction performance.”

The researchers did not find any association between diet and the chances of successful pregnancies and births among women aged 35 and older. They believe this is due to hormonal changes, fewer available eggs and other changes that women experience as they get older that could mask the influences of factors such as diet.

“Our results suggest the need for additional research not only among older women, but also among women with obesity problems and in women conceiving naturally,” said Prof Yiannakouris.