Michelle Strong is a registered nutritionist and infertility warrior who founded mymindbodybaby.com to support others on their paths to pregnancy. In this guest post, she shares best IVF diet according to research. As a bonus, Bird&Be readers can also get 15% off any program on her site with promo code birdandbe.
Did you know that what you eat leading up to and during an IVF cycle can impact its success? And spoiler alert: It has nothing to do with pineapple. Instead, here’s what research has to say about what to eat before, during and after IVF, as well as what foods to avoid.
What’s the best “diet” for IVF?
Before and during an IVF cycle, research points to the Mediterranean diet as your best bet. In a study that looked at non-obese women under 35, a greater adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet during IVF was associated with a significantly higher chance of achieving clinical pregnancy and live birth. Another study found that more embryos were obtained via IVF when the patient followed a Mediterranean diet.
So, what is the Mediterranean diet exactly? It’s a style of eating based on traditional cuisines from countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain—countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. The common foods include plenty of fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains, moderate amounts of fish, poultry, and eggs. The diet also features healthy plant-based fats like nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocado. Additionally, this “diet” doesn’t rely much on red meat and, other than some red wine, processed foods are extremely low.
Of course, each person has unique needs. For those with food sensitivities/allergies or hormonal conditions like PCOS, slight modifications of the Mediterranean diet might be necessary. In this case, work within the parameters of the diet where you can and substitute out as necessary.
What should I eat after an embryo transfer?
In the same way that a well-rounded fresh diet is critical as you prep for IVF, the same goes for after the embryo transfer. High-quality nutrients help to provide a welcoming environment for your developing blastocyst and (hopefully) eventual fetus. By now, eating this way has likely become part of your lifestyle, so continue experimenting with new, delicious ideas that keep you feeling healthy and inspired (if you need help with this, The IVF Formula from myMindBodyBaby provides day-by-day guidance).
You’ll want to try to avoid certain foods, too: like pre-IVF, keeping processed white/beige sugars and flours very low is important. This includes fast foods, candy, chips, energy drinks and pop. A 2018 study showed that the consumption of high-carbohydrate foods/drinks (A.K.A. sugar) is associated with lower fecundability (the ability to get pregnant on a given cycle).
Lastly, post-transfer, bump up the nitric oxide–rich foods, which are known for dilating blood vessels and allowing oxygen-rich blood to flow to reproductive organs. These include beets, pomegranate, and leafy greens. Research shows that the intake of beetroot starting on embryo transfer day may help improve embryo implantation during ICSI IVF cycles.
Are pineapples good for fertility?
If you’re wondering whether pineapple actually improves implantation rates, there’s no research that has proven this yet. That said, it’s a nutrient-dense whole food and can only help not hurt your overall health.