The Mediterranean Diet is one of the most studied and celebrated diets in the world. This diet refers to the traditional diet of the inhabitants of the Mediterranean basin during the 50s and 60s.
In a recent robust review of the literature,it was concluded that the Mediterranean diet significantly reduces the risk of mortality, certain cancers, Alzheimer's disease and type 2 diabetes. So this diet has proven its he alth and gastronomy benefits, but what about its role in fertility?
The Mediterranean diet and fertility
The evidence is clear that a varied diet rich in vegetables, fruits and vegetable protein is beneficial for reproductive he alth. As a matter of fact, these foods are found at the base of the Mediterranean pyramid.
The Mediterranean diet is characterized by an abundance of foods from the plant kingdom, i.e. vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and nuts. In addition, a large proportion of the calories in the Mediterranean diet come from fat, in the formolive oil. Finally, dairy products, meats and red wine are consumed in moderation.
On a cellular level, a he althy diet helps to better protect our cells, including sperm and eggs, against oxidative stress. It is not surprising then that the Mediterranean diet, with its high fiber content, antioxidants and he althy fats, stands out in the literature as a choice option for the couple wishing to conceive.
In a study of 244 non-obese women undergoing IVF, the Mediterranean diet showed promise. This study assessed the link between adherence to a Mediterranean diet, using the validated MedDietScore tool, and the success of IVF treatment. The results of this study demonstrated that better adherence to the Mediterranean diet increased the likelihood of spontaneous pregnancy and live birth compared to women with lower adherence. Notably, for a 5-point increase in the MedDietScore, women were 2.7 times more likely to have a spontaneous pregnancy or live birth.
The benefits of a Mediterranean diet on fertility also exist in men. In a study of 255 subfertile men, adherence to a Mediterranean diet was linked to better sperm quality, in terms of motility, morphology and total sperm count.
5 tips for eating Mediterranean style
1. Make it a mode oflife
Despite its name, the Mediterranean diet is not just a diet, but a way of life. Physical activity, gastronomic pleasure, conviviality and the sharing of meals are fundamental elements of the Mediterranean way of life. Often overlooked, these factors all affect he alth.
2. Focus on plants
A Mediterranean meal is mostly composed of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, herbs and spices. This diet is therefore naturally rich in fiber as well as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, known for their role in reproductive he alth.
3. Make way for the fat
Fat contributes over 37% of calories in the Mediterranean diet, with cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil being the main source of fat consumed. Other sources of fat included in the Mediterranean diet are nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and seafood.
4. Meat and dairy products in moderation
The traditional Mediterranean diet is rooted in frugality. As a result, meats and dairy are only featured weekly, with an emphasis on local, quality produce.
5. Eat your whole grains
Contrary to popular belief, the Mediterranean diet does not rely on refined flours, but on whole grains like bulgur, farro, black rice, barley and their flours. These whole grains are oftenused in fresh salads, soups, risottos or pasta and accompanied by vegetables, legumes and spices.
Finally, the importance of a he althy diet in the preconception period is well established. The Mediterranean diet is a sustainable, balanced and delicious option for the couple wishing to conceive and seeking to integrate the principles of he althy eating for their growing family.