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July 19, 2019

The low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet may boost fertility for those struggling to conceive

But switching to a Mediterranean diet for preconception is wise

Adult Health Fertility
keto diet infertility Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

The ketogenic diet may help set those struggling with fertility up for a healthy conception.

In addition to being widely popular in the mainstream of healthy eaters, the ketogenic diet has also been known to improve some health conditions, too.

One such condition is now thought to be infertility, which affects about nine percent of men and about 11 percent of women of reproductive age in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health

A functional medicine dietitian, Ali Miller, tells MindBodyGreen that the high-fat, moderate-protein and low-carb diet may be a natural alternative to fertility treatments that can influence the body’s fertility and ability to conceive.

RELATED READ: U.S. fertility keeps dropping – but there's no reason to panic

In a column on the health and wellness website, Miller writes that the keto diet may help with four fertility issues: insulin resistance (less insulin is required to maintain blood sugar in ketosis), pituitary dysfunction (the diet optimizes leptin levels to help the body release the appropriate reproductive hormones), elevated levels of the hormone androgen and DHEA (the diet can effectively reduce DHEA levels, balance hormones, and counter androgenic excess), and body composition (keto can help people lose weight, reduce inflammation and promote the healthy production of hormones.)

“The standard American diet, filled with refined carbohydrates and sugar, has been associated with poor sperm health, negatively impacting sperm motility, morphology [shape], and shape count,” Will Cole, a doctor of chiropractic and a functional medicine expert in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, told CCRM Fertility“Conversely, diets rich in healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, and omega fatty-acid-rich fish, have been shown to improve sperm health.”

Cole noted that even a fertile woman may have trouble getting pregnant if her partner’s sperm is low-quality.

Everyday Health notes that while the ketogenic diet can help someone looking to conceive to “kick-start a new health routine and lose weight,” experts agree that the body should not be in ketosis — the process of the body running on fat, instead of carbs — at conception or at any part of pregnancy.

The Mediterranean diet — which emphasizes fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, whole-wheat carbs and healthy fats — is thought to be ideal for preconception, the time before a woman gets pregnant because carbs are the primary source of fuel for a growing baby, according to Everyday Health.

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