IVF Diet Plan
The IVF diet is designed for women who have no choice but to go through IVF. It's been designed to help build up protein, essential fatty acids, important nutrients, vitamins and minerals as well as building-block hormones.
All of these are important to support egg and sperm growth and improve energy and blood levels needed to thicken the uterus lining and maintain a pregnancy. They also improve IVF success rates and pregnancy rates.
This diet aims to regulate fertility hormone levels and reduce adversely high levels of oestrogen by eating foods rich in genistein and lignans and cutting out red meat and dairy products. Saturated fats can have a negative effect for many women and men. It's important to use this IVF diet plan in conjunction with good fertility supplements including folic acid.
During an in-vitro fertilization cycle, lots of eggs are created using fertility drugs. All these eggs release oestrogen, causing levels to rise dramatically from a normal level of 300pg/mL with just one follicle that's matured during a natural ovulation to 4000pg/mL with 13 or more follicles and sometimes even higher to 6000pg/mL with over 20 follicles.
These high levels of oestrogen can cause side effects, such as OHSS, breast or uterus cancer. By eating certain foods that won't increase oestrogen levels and can instead block them, it's possible to reduce levels of oestrogen and thereby reduce the risk of developing side effects from fertility drugs.
It's advisable to start this diet plan months before starting in-vitro fertilisation treatment. Essentially, the diet plan below is based on a balanced diet with optimisations and should be used every day.
- Upon waking, it's ideal to drink a fruit juice that contains vitamin C together with your iron supplement and prenatal, as it helps absorb vital vitamins and nutrients
- Coffee lovers who need a hit in the morning can have one cup of decaf. Decaf coffee still has some caffeine in it. Otherwise, if you can, avoid coffee as it also reduces your body's ability to absorb calcium
- Chamomile tea is ideal. Tea lovers need to be careful too, as a lot of tea contains caffeine and tannin, which can affect absorption of iron. Different teas have different effects. Black (English) tea is warming and like coffee it contains chlorogenic acid, which can affect levels of dihydrotestosterone. One cup of decaf black tea in the morning is ok. If you feel too warm or have heartburn, don't drink black tea. Only a couple cups of green tea as it still has caffeine in
- Other hot drinks you can have include rooibos tea, herbal teas, hot water with lemon, hot cacao with or without ginger
- Cold drinks include water, water with lemon or orange, beetroot juice or a green smoothie (no raw smoothies if you feel cold or the weather is cold). None of these cold drinks should be chilled or have ice, room temperature only
- Smoothie with apples, alfalfa sprouts, wheatgrass, kale, broccoli and watercress
- Smoothie with carrot juice and a slice of lemon and ginger
- Drink plenty of water, not chilled, either room temperature or warm. Two liters (half a gallon) a day is ideal, but for most people this is hard. It takes practice and patience. Do not refill plastic bottles. Instead, use a new plastic bottle, glass or mug. See 'Knowing your plastics' in Chapter Four
- A good quality prenatal supplement
- Iron (even though it's already in the prenatal)
- Royal jelly or bee pollen
- CO Enzyme Q10 with DHEA
- Apricots, nuts and seeds: cashew nuts, peaches, strawberries, sunflower seeds
- Eggs (scrambled, poached or boiled) with salmon and mashed avocado with either lemon or olive oil
- Poached eggs with asparagus
- Omelet with either spinach and/or potato
- Salmon with parsley, poached eggs and asparagus
- Herring and eggs salad
- Tofu salad with ginger, white cabbage and sesame oil
- Unfortified oat, muesli or granola cereal with fruits above and flaxseed. No cow or soya milk. Almond or rice milk only
- Jacket potato with either tuna, sardines, mackerel or eggs
- Sweet potato with choice of fillings above
- Soups are ideal in cold seasons: chicken, fish or beetroot, tomato and lentil soup
- Mixed bean (kidney, black and aduki) salad
- Sardines with tomato, garlic, chickpea, feta cheese, lemon juice salad
- Salmon with steamed kale or broccoli with brown rice
- Trout stuffed with lemon and parsley with baby potatoes and string beans
- Tofu vegetable (including broccoli) stir-fry with cashew nuts, rice and sesame seeds
- Lentils either baked with egg plant (aubergine) or as a lasagna
- Cod with steamed kale and brown rice
- Sea bass with ginger, soy sauce and spring onions
- Chicken with steamed asparagus and baby potatoes
Once your IVF cycle is successful, switch to the post-ovulation diet plan making sure to exclude foods contraindicated during pregnancy.
The fertility expert and author Dr (TCM) Attilio D'Alberrto practices from his own private acupuncture clinics in Twickenham and Wokingham.