With an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and legumes, the Mediterranean diet has long been praised for its multiple health benefits. Now, new research shows it can also help overcome infertility, making it a non-invasive and cost-effective technique for couples trying to conceive.
Conducted by Monash University, the University of the Sunshine Coast and the University of South Australia, the review found that the Mediterranean diet can improve fertility, assisted reproductive technology (ART) success and sperm quality in men.
Specifically, researchers have identified that the anti-inflammatory properties of the Mediterranean diet can improve couples’ chances of conceiving.
Infertility is a global health concern affecting 48 million couples and 186 million individuals worldwide.
UniSA researcher, Dr Evangeline Mentgioris, said changing preconception nutrition is a non-invasive and potentially effective way to improve fertility outcomes.
“Deciding to have a baby is one of life’s biggest decisions, but if things don’t go as planned, it can be very stressful for both partners,” says Dr Mangioris.
“Research shows that inflammation can affect fertility for both men and women, affecting sperm quality, menstrual cycles and implantation. So, in this study we wanted to see how a diet that reduces inflammation — such as the Mediterranean diet — could improve fertility. result
“Encouragingly, we found consistent evidence that by following an anti-inflammatory diet — one high in polyunsaturated or ‘healthy’ fats, flavonoids (such as green leafy vegetables) and limited amounts of red and processed meat — we can improve fertility.”
The Mediterranean diet is primarily plant-based, and includes whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts, herbs and spices. Yogurt, cheese, and lean protein sources such as fish, chicken, or eggs; Red and processed meats are consumed only in small amounts.
In comparison, a Western diet is high in saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and animal protein, making it energy-dense and lacking in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Generally, a western diet is associated with high levels of inflammation.
Monash University researcher, Simon Alessi, said understanding the relationship between anti-inflammatory foods like the Mediterranean diet and fertility could be a game changer for couples hoping to start a family.
“The Mediterranean diet is consistently ranked among the healthiest diets in the world. But knowing that it can also increase your chances of conceiving and having a baby is very promising,” says Alessi.
“Changing your diet is a non-invasive and affordable technique that can potentially improve infertility.
“Of course, more research needs to be done, but at the very least, switching to a Mediterranean diet will not only improve your overall health, but also increase your chances of conceiving.”