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Go Mediterranean to boost fertility

London - Would-be parents can almost double their chances of conceiving by improving their diet, according to new research.

Couples should eat plenty of salads, preferably with olive oil, while men need to eat more cereals and less meat and processed foods. Those that do may increase their fertility by up to 40 percent, according to the findings.

Couples should eat plenty of salads, preferably with olive oil. Credit: REUTERS

Problems with conceiving is a growing problem in Britain, primarily because of postponed childbearing, but also due to unhealthy lifestyles.

In two separate projects, researchers in the Netherlands and South America looked at the impact of overall diet in couples undertaking IVF.

In the Dutch study at Erasmus University, 160 couples were quizzed about their diets and the women monitored as they went through the assisted reproduction process.

Researchers found those who ate a Mediterranean diet - including high intakes of vegetable oils, fish, pulses and vegetables but low intakes of sugary or salty snacks and processed foods - substantially increased the probability of pregnancy. Vegetable oils in particular are rich in linoleic acid and linked to hormones which are important for initiating the menstrual cycle.

In the second study, reported in the journal Fertility And Sterility, researchers looked at the food and lifestyle of 250 would-be fathers involved in IVF. Results show sperm concentration went down with increasing weight and alcohol consumption, but was improved by cereal consumption.

Sperm motility was reduced by weight, alcohol and smoking, but improved by fruits and cereals. Alcohol also had a negative effect on fertilization rates, as well as red meat and weight-loss diets.

Dr Glenys Jones at the Medical Research Council’s Human Nutrition Research centre in Cambridge, says: “These studies support research that indicates couples trying to conceive should follow healthy diets, consume at least their five-a-day of fruits and vegetables and maintain a healthy weight.” - Daily Mail

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