Fertility diet - influence of diet on fertility often overlooked

According to a British nutritionist, by making radical changes to their diet, older women can enhance their chance of conceiving.

These changes involve cutting out alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners and caffeine as well as seemingly innocent foods such as peas, rhubarb and soy.

Sarah Dobbyn, the author of The Fertility Diet, suggests the influence of diet on fertility is often overlooked and by making "drastic" changes in their diet, women in their 40s and 50s could increase their chance of having a baby.

Dobbyn claims that dietary modifications will allow women to hit the "snooze button" on their biological clocks and an improved diet could also help women to conceive even when they are entering the fifth decade of their lives.

Dobbyn, a 43-year-old former barrister, also says the changes could benefit women who believe that IVF treatment is their only hope of becoming pregnant.

According to Ms Dobbyn huge amounts of money are spent on assisted conception techniques by hopeful couples who do not know that alcoholic and caffeinated beverages and sweeteners can prevent ovulation and foods such as peas, rhubarb and soy all inhibit fertility.

There is research which shows that alcohol and smoking can affect fertility and recent studies have found a link between eating soy products and infertility in obese men - there is also research linking peas and rhubarb to infertility.

Ms Dobbyn's recommended fertility diet goes beyond this however as by three months couples will have given up all meat, sugar and dairy products and have a limited consumption of eggs and fruit juices.

Couples are also encouraged to eat unlimited quantities of beans, pulses, organic herbs, spices and nuts, and raw fruit and vegetables whenever possible.

The aim of all this is to apparently help 'balance the body's hormones'.

Couples are also advised to lose weight if overweight, keep stress to a minimum, and try and sleep well.

The fertility diet which is the result of Dobbyn's two and a half year search through various studies and books on fertility, has been criticised by IVF experts who question the effectiveness of a meat and dairy-free diet.

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