Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Can changing your diet help you have a baby in your 40s?

By Fiona Macrae

Drastic changes in diet boost a woman's chances of giving birth into her 40s and 50s, it is claimed.

Alterations from cutting out alcohol and sugar to eating more organic foods allow women to hit the 'snooze button' on their biological clocks, maximising their chances of having a baby, says a new book on fertility.

Sarah Dobbyn, a nutritionist and author of The Fertility Diet, said the influence of diet on fertility is often overlooked in an age in which IVF often seems the only answer to pregnancy problems.

A new book claims drastic changes in diet can boost a woman's chances of giving birth into her 40s and 50s

She said: 'Huge amounts of money are being spent on assisted conception techniques by hopeful couples who do not know that alcoholic and caffeinated beverages are liquid contraceptives, sweeteners can prevent ovulation and seemingly innocent foods such as peas, rhubarb and soya all inhibit fertility.'

Aimed at those trying to conceive naturally, as well as those going through IVF, The Fertility Diet sets out a diet and lifestyle plan which should be followed by both partners.

The most comprehensive guide of its kind, it advises cutting out smoking, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, caffeine and soya in the first month. Peas and rhubarb are also banned, following studies linking them to infertility.

By month two, couples should have given up all meat and cut out sugar and dairy products.

Come the third month, consumption of eggs and fruit juices should be reduced.

However, it is not all about cutting back, with couples allowed unlimited quantities of beans, pulses, organic herbs, spices and nuts from day one.

Fruit and vegetables should be eaten raw wherever possible to help balance the body's hormones.

Would-be parents are also advised to lose weight if overweight, keep stress to a minimum, and try to get a good night's sleep.

Miss Dobbyn, who spent two-and-a-half years combing research papers and books on fertilty to write The Fertility Diet, believes the advice will help all older couples, bar those who need surgery or other medical treatment, to conceive.

The 43-year-old former barrister who is engaged and plans to start trying for a family soon, said: 'It is a pain to give up caffeine, it is a pain to give up wine, but won't it be worth it when you have your own baby?'

However IVF doctors questioned how effective the meat and dairy-free diet would be.

Professor Bill Ledger, a fertility expert from Sheffield University, said lifestyle did not have a major effect on fertility and he was unaware of any evidence that vegans go through menopause at a different time to other women.

He added: 'We tend to create a lot of guilt in people these days.

'The worry is that some gullible young woman will read this book and start living that life and miss out on a lot of fun and normality.'

Original here

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