It seems that almost every day, there is a new bit of research linking various nutritional and environmental factors to infertility. To keep up with the flood of information, we wanted to devote this blog to infertility news regarding nutrition.
Far too few people realize their fertility problems could be related to what they eat. Did you know that blackened meats and sugary foods, which both make more than a few appearances at summer barbecues, can contribute to infertility? If not, read on.
That obesity, overeating, and environmental toxins contribute to reproductive problems is no great secret. What has changed is science’s ability to dig deeper into specific foods, beverages, and behaviors that lend themselves to infertility and in what way. Figuring out the “why” is just as important as figuring out the “what.”
How AGEs contribute to infertility
Our first look at the outside factors affecting infertility comes from an Australian study directly linking charred foods and sugary beverages with an increased risk of infertility. Completed at the Melbourne Hudson Institute of Medical Research, the study adds to a growing mound of evidence showing the inordinate impact that charred meat and sugary, processed foods have on fertility.
While it wasn’t an overly large study, the results were conclusive. By taking a group of 17 lean women having problems conceiving and comparing them to a group of 16 obese women also struggling to conceive, researchers discovered that inflammation lay at the root of the problem.
The mechanism by which this inflammation occurred was through a sugar by-product called advanced glycation end products – otherwise known as AGEs. AGEs form naturally within the body, but can also enter the body through consumption of sugary, processed, or overly cooked or blackened foods.
The specific problem arises when cells lining the womb become inflamed, which makes it harder for an embryo to implant into the uterine lining. Researchers also discovered that AGEs interfere with the body’s ability to form a stable placenta, which could also contribute to pregnancy complications.
This research adds to the list of findings demonstrating how specific toxins, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors bear significant influence on a couple’s ability to achieve successful conception. This finding, and others like it, reinforce the importance that external factors – factors within our control – play in family planning.
More importantly, an ever-growing body of evidence shows that women who are struggling with reproduction need not immediately turn to IVF treatment. Women with elevated AGE levels may be able to forgo stressful and potentially unsuccessful IVF treatments, and opt instead for diet and lifestyle changes.
Summer is coming, but think twice about using the barbecue
Just as the World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled overcooked meat a carcinogen, or potentially cancer-causing, it appears the more charred meats become on the grill, the higher the levels of AGEs. The more gently meat is cooked, the healthier it is.
For women who have polycystic ovary syndrome, a low AGE diet could provide a welcome solution, as other research has demonstrated. Women with this condition – which carries fertility implications – could see an improvement in their condition by making essential changes to their diet.
For many hopeful parents-to-be, natural conception is preferable to IVF. While IVF has been used successfully for decades, the time has come for new methods. For comprehensive infertility treatment, turn to the experts at Couri & Smyth Health for Life Medical Center.