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Fertility Booster No. 1: Eat Healthfully continued...

Which dietary tenets were significant for increasing fertility?

  • Eating more monounsaturated fats (like olive oil) and less trans fats (like the kind found in many baked goods or fast foods).
  • Increasing intake of vegetable protein (like soy), while reducing animal protein (like red meat).
  • Eating more high fiber, low-glycemic foods -- like whole grains, vegetables, and some fruits, while reducing the intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars.
  • Consuming moderate amounts of high-fat dairy products -- like ice cream, whole milk, and cheese.

Jorge Chavarro, MD, a study researcher, believes diet made a difference because the majority of women experiencing ovulatory dysfunction were also suffering from undiagnosed or subclinical PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), a condition related to insulin resistance that also affects ovulation.

"It responds well to diet, so that could be one of the reasons these foods were so helpful," says Chavarro, who translated his medical study findings into a book called The Fertility Diet.

Pollack believes it's worth giving the diet a try but says, "You should not depend on it alone -- make it just one part of your overall efforts to conceive."

Fertility Booster No. 2: Weight Control

Whether or not you eat the so-called "fertility foods," maintaining a healthy weight is another way to enhance your fertility.

Studies show that having either a very low or very high BMI (body mass index) disrupts ovulation and may also affect production of important reproductive hormones.

"One of the first things I counsel women about is the role of their weight in influencing their fertility," says Janet Choi, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City.

For many women -- particularly those who are overweight -- problems are traced to ovulatory dysfunction, often caused by PCOS. That said, a recent Dutch study of some 3,000 women found excess weight could also interfere with fertility even if a woman is ovulating normally.

Reporting in the journal Human Reproduction, researchers documented a 4% decrease in conception odds for every point in BMI above 30. For women whose BMI was higher than 35, there was up to a 43% overall decrease in the ability to conceive.

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