March is a month to celebrate women, uphold their achievements, recognise challenges and focus greater attention on women’s health. In this blog, I’ll briefly discuss the impact of the Western diet on female fertility.
By now, we know how diet and lifestyle can affect our bodies in a positive and negative way. We are bombarded by articles in magazines, newspapers, social media, etc about the impact of sugar, saturated fat and gluten in our bodies but are we really aware of how what we put in our bodies affects us?
We might have grown up thinking that certain foods, for example corned beef, spam or sugary breakfast cereals are good for us as well as being easy to get hold of and make a meal out of. But do you know what affect the ingredients of these specific foods can have on our bodies?
Sadly our Western diets are not the healthiest. Western diets contain high amounts of sucrose, excessive amounts of saturated and trans fats and high amounts of refined carbohydrates which can affect insulin levels and wreak havoc in our endocrine systems. Most of the foods in boxes contain some sort of chemical that can imbalance our hormones.
In a study of mice, it was identified that long-term consumption of a diet with excessive fat and sucrose (such as a Western diet) leads to an elevated risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome in both males and females. Ok, you might say “well that study was carried out in mice” but there are other studies that have shown decreased fertility in women. An unbalanced highly calorific diet, high in saturated and trans fats, sugar or refined carbohydrates (aka junk food diet) can lead to alterations of the ovarian function with a subsequent increase in infertility. The ingredients in junk food provide deficiencies of Vitamin A, B, C, D, potassium and zinc which can result in illness, infection, anxiety, depression and irregular menstrual cycle in women.
Furthermore, a higher BMI is also associated with pregnancy complications such as; gestational diabetes, hypertension and premature births. Poor nutrition can affect the quality of eggs, embryos and the implantation process. As conclusion, it is clear that unbalanced diets with high sugar, high refined carbohydrates, excess saturated fats and lacking in essential proteins, vitamins and micronutrients can have a negative impact on ovulation and fertility.
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Happy International Women’s Day!
Karina Smith-Reyes Dip NT CNM, Dip HC CNM, BANT, CNCH