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The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

Could having the occasional small bowl of ice cream lead to a midnight craving for pickles and ice cream? It’s common knowledge that diet and exercise have profound effects on your health. Can they affect your ability to get pregnant, too? Until now, the answer to that question was a qualified “Maybe.” Today, it’s “Yes!” thanks to exciting findings from a landmark long-term study of female nurses. As described in The Fertility Diet, ten simple changes in diet and activity can have profound effects on fertility. You can increase your chances of getting pregnant with such simple strategies as: Avoiding trans fats Eating more beans, nuts, and other fertility-boosting plant protein Embracing whole grains such as oatmeal and ba

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 3rd, 2011 at 8:43 am and is filed under Books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Julia Indichova "author of The Fertile Female... says:
    249 of 277 people found the following review helpful:
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    Might Cause More Harm than Good, December 12, 2007
    This review is from: The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant (Hardcover)

    In 1992, I was in desperate search of a miracle cure for my furiously rising hormone levels, which – according to a well-documented study – reduced my remaining childbearing years to zero. At the time I was eating close to the recommendations of The Fertility Diet: whole milk products, brown rice, tofu, poultry, nuts and fruit, multigrain bread, an afternoon desert and coffee. Yet there I was, at forty two, going into premature menopause with several endocrinologists proclaiming my “ovulatory infertility” to be beyond repair.

    One day, in a last-ditch effort to prop up my wilting ovaries, I resolved to raise the bar on my eating habits. The first food I eliminated was dairy. My decision to do so was inspired by my chronic sinus headaches. Several sources indicated a strong correlation between milk products and high levels of congestion. Amazingly, after three dairy-free weeks, my sinus headaches vanished. And eight months later (following a regime of additional diet changes and rigorous self-examination) I conceived a baby girl. After publicly sharing my story, I received hundreds of e-mails from women who emulated my process with similar results.

    Notably, in 1994, the year of my daughter’s birth, a large scale study in the Journal of Epidemiology, surveyed women in over 35 countries, showing that those in countries with the highest milk consumption experienced the sharpest, age-related drop in ovarian reserve. Women between the ages of 35-39 reported the highest rate of declining reproductive function. Some experts proposed that this delayed impact might’ve been caused by the cumulative toxic effect of galactose on ovarian germ cells.

    No, not everyone needs to give up dairy to become pregnant. Though a substantial body of clinical research documents the adverse effects of dairy on endocrine and immune health.

    Overall, for the reader who has not done extensive prior research, many of The Fertility Diet recommendations can be dangerously misleading. Consider this: “It has been hard to keep up with the fortunes of soy over the last decade…” followed by: ” don’t turn up your nose at tofu… or ignore soy milk…” If you’re going to write a book, entitled, The Fertility Diet, you might care to do what it takes to keep up with the fortunes of soy. Women with irregular ovulation might in fact, do best to turn up their noses at tofu and soy milk. Non-fermented soy products have been linked with impaired thyroid function. Not a desirable condition for an aspiring mom.

    Or here is another equally troubling recommendation: “Drink coffee… and alcohol in moderation…we didn’t see any effects on fertility at moderate levels of caffeine intake, which is the equivalent of three to four cups of coffee a day.” The interested reader will indeed find a number of sources documenting the adverse affect of caffeine, including higher miscarriage rates, increased blood pressure, excessive urinary excretion of magnesium, potassium, and calcium (essential nutrients for maintaining a healthy pregnancy) to name a few. The followers of Dr. Chavarro’s guidelines might want to take note of an alarming piece of research* that points toward larger risk of mammary and bladder cancer among coffee drinkers on a high fat diet. And if none of these findings were convincing enough, when attempting to create a most welcoming environment for new life, wouldn’t it make more sense to abstain from ingesting a substance that leads to physical dependency serious enough to result in withdrawal symptoms?

    What about the suggested curative effect of ice-cream and whole-fat-dairy? Tinkering with the natural proportion of elements within a food system has been known to spell trouble. Thus, whole fat foods are for the most part healthier than their low-fat counterparts. But the claim that whole-fat milk products in particular are responsible for reversing ovulatory imbalance is highly misleading. Looking at the original study, one could also easily surmise that women who eat low fat dairy, are likely to be chronic dieters with fluctuations in weight. And such fluctuations have been known to result in impaired hormonal health. The reason that even one serving of low-fat foods is shown to increase the risk, is not the milk, but the fact that it marks a particular personality trait, and relationship to food in general.

    In the last fourteen years of counseling people with ovulatory issues, I have found that eight out of ten women have digestive difficulties. I wonder about the effect of – a four cheese soufflé, a few cups of coffee, a glass of wine, fruit desserts and nuts and berries for an evening snack, to name but a few suggestions in the back of the book – on an already compromised digestive system.

    Oh, yes, many readers might miss the irony of the lovely image of two peas in a pod…

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    ... on July October 3rd, 2011
  2. Regina Wilshire "Regina" says:
    128 of 168 people found the following review helpful:
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    Book Contents Do NOT Align With Study Data, December 6, 2007
    Regina Wilshire “Regina” (Vienna, VA) –

    This review is from: The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant (Hardcover)

    If researchers from Harvard University – Dr. Jorge Chavarro and Dr. Walter Willett – had merely published their data and encouraged additional study to validate their findings, I’d have nothing to write about today. In fact, I may have penned a quick post about the study since it did find some intriguing associations between diet and risk of infertility in women participating in the Nurse’s Health Study II.

    But, they didn’t simply publish a paper. No, they also published a book – The Fertility Diet – that is now featured on the cover of Newsweek and also being touted in the media as the low-tech, do-it-yourself way to prevent and even reverse ovulatory infertility!

    Worse though is the media advancing the findings in a way that implies the dietary strategy has been tested in infertile women!

    Take a look at how MedScape opened their article – “Higher intake of monounsaturated fats; vegetable protein; and high-fiber, low-glycemic carbohydrates improved fertility outcomes in women with ovulatory disorder infertility, according to the results of a cohort study reported in the November issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.”

    The data is not from women who specifically had a diagnosis of ovulatory dysfunction (irregular or absent menstruation). Rather, the data was from a cohort of women within the Nurse’s Health Study II who were identified as actively trying to get pregnant during the period of follow-up data collection. That is a very different cohort of subjects than one exclusively made up of women with infertility, or a cohort designed as a comparison study of women with and without fertility issues due to ovulation!

    But the thing that really irks me is the media falling all over itself to highlight one finding in particular, the supposed reduction of ovulatory dysfunction if women follow the dietary strategy outlined in the book – “their research shows that women who follow five or more of the tips could boost their fertility by up to 80 percent,” is how the Boston Channel presented it.

    Charles Platkin (Diet Detective) wrote, “In fact, the Nurses’ Health study showed that those who did not follow a healthy diet were six times more likely to experience infertility related to ovulation than women who did.”

    Oh really?

    How about we look at the published data – let’s look specifically at those cases with ovulatory disorder infertility published in the study:
    Diet Score .Cases .RR (95% CI)
    Q1 (lowest) _117 _1.00
    Q2 _100 _0.68 (0.52 – 0.89)
    Q3 _77 _0.65 (0.48 – 0.87)
    Q4 _80 _0.53 (0.40 – 0.72)
    Q5 _42 _0.34 (0.23 – 0.48)

    Do you see a six-fold difference between Q1 and Q5? I didn’t think so!

    Do you see an 80% greater chance of pregnancy in those in Q5 than those in Q1? I didn’t think so!

    And as an aside – I don’t get is how in Q4 they reported more cases of infertility, yet managed to report a lower RR? Anyone want to help me out with that one?

    Anyway, I was scratching my head, trying to figure out how they came up with these incredible numbers – statistics being used to heavily promote the book right now – and they’re in the study all right, in a theoretical computer model (which should be called a fantasy search for significance) run with different scenarios of possibilities, not data of real women eating in the real world!

    As the researchers noted in their paper, “we calculated the population attributable risk associated with specific combinations of dietary and lifestyle factors to estimate the proportion of cases that may have been avoided had all the women in this cohort adhered to these habits.”

    So now, rather than state these numbers are based on computer models and are, at best, theoretical – they’re promoting the book as if it’s fact that the dietary strategies actually work.

    And they’re doing it in a way that is promoting the idea that a woman with ovulatory dysfunction can fix it herself, without medical intervention, and get pregnant on her own.

    To say this is a travesty for women’s health is an understatement!

    Just when you think it’s not possible, it really does get worse.

    If the promotion of theoretical as fact isn’t bad enough, here is a real hard fact that should send chills up your spine – while the majority of cases of ovulatory dysfunction are attributed to PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), a large enough number are due to hyperprolactenemia, usually cased by a small tumor at the base of the brain. Yet, the book has absolutely no warning to women that a diagnosis for the cause of ovulatory dysfunction is critical before beginning the do-it-yourself diet approach.

    Think about that for a moment.

    Then consider that ovulatory dysfunction can also be due to disease of the pituitary, adrenal or thyroid glands. It…

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    ... on July October 3rd, 2011