How reliable is the “Fertility Diet”?
Diets are for weight loss. That is what most people think immediately, without questioning it. The pineapple and tuna, the protein, the rice, the cabbage soup, the moon, or in some cases, drink water with lemon or breakfast only with green tea. There are millions and each time a new one appears – and disappears. How about the diet to get pregnant?
A patient who had a hard time getting pregnant called me excited after she discovered there was a new book called The Diet of Fertility. “If I eat more ice cream, I can get pregnant!” She said excitedly on the phone. “Do you agree?” “Wait,” I said, “who said that?” “Harvard University researchers,” she said firmly. Well, I thought, Harvard implies that it’s serious. So I decided to investigate what the diet was about. I wanted to know what the exact connection between ice cream and babies was before I “discouraged” my beloved patient and before she overdosed on ice cream and her tummy came out, not for a baby.
So I set myself the task of finding out what the diet was about. Reading, I discovered that it is a diet that proposes healthy eating habits, something that several diets do that are not necessarily designed to help conceive. This focuses on nutrition that is healthy for the heart: variety of fruits and vegetables, low fat meals, less red meat, less refined carbohydrates and zero trans fat. Voilá! That does not surprise me, much less knowing that it comes from an institution as serious as Harvard. So on that side, fine.
However, when I went on to read that eating ice cream and whole milk products increases the chances of getting pregnant, I was not convinced at all. I think it is a recommendation that should not be taken too seriously. Even the authors of the book recognize that there are not enough scientific studies to prove it. Several detractors of the diet have said that the mention of ice cream is only a marketing strategy. My role is not to be for or against those strategies, but it is my duty to open the eyes of the ice cream maniacs so that they do not celebrate in advance. I had to give the news to my patient: “Actually, the ice cream, better forget it.” He was very disappointed, but I explained that, instead, he can follow the other dietary recommendations, try to maintain a healthy weight (since being overweight and being too thin reduce fertility), keep taking your vitamins, your daily dose of folic acid, and suggest frequent romantic encounters with your husband.
My conclusion is that the fertility diet has perfectly reasonable recommendations, such as eating better. If you and your partner have had problems getting pregnant, maybe it’s not a bad idea to start there. Check your diet, and if this does not “bear fruit,” consult a specialist who will guide you on what you need to do to finally have a belly of a future mother and not a belly that only has to do with eating a lot of ice cream.