Dietary Guidelines and Your Fertility


On January 31, 2011, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 was released. The recommendations are a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The publication provides information and advice for choosing healthy eating habits.

The guidelines emphasize 2 main concepts:

Maintain calorie balance over time to achieve and sustain a healthy weight.

Focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods and beverages.

Fertility diet guidelines

Good nutrition is key to reducing the risk of chronic disease, promoting overall health and maintaining a healthy weight, The Standard American Diet (SAD) is typically rich in processed foods, salt and saturated fat animal products. It is estimated that 72% of men and 64% of women in the United States are overweight (a BMI of > 25) with nearly one third of Americans being obese (BMI> 30). You may calculate your BMI here.

It is well known that weight and BMI can impact a woman’s fertility, whether she’s overweight or underweight. Losing or gaining weight to a normal BMI not only increases pregnancy rates but also decreases pregnancy complications. A man’s BMI can also have an effect on fertility, particularly if he’s overweight.

The three most important factors are:

  • Increase your intake of high-nutrient plant-based foods.
  • Reduce dietary sodium consumption. Read nutrition labels closely and buy items labeled low in sodium. Use little or no salt when cooking or eating.
  • Reduce consumption of saturated and trans fats.

Also consider the following healthier options:

  • Practice portion control. In general, avoid “oversized” portions.
  • At mealtime, eat at a table with others. Eat slowly.
  • Aim for variety. Include as much fresh food as possible.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. A good rule of thumb is that half the food on your plate should be fruits and vegetables.
  • Use non-fat or low-fat (1%) dairy products.
  • Drink water instead of beverages containing sugar. Avoid high sugar drinks such as soda and sweetened fruit drinks.
  • Exercise regularly: at least 30 minutes of moderate activity 5-7 times weekly.
  • Avoid alcohol if attempting pregnancy. This recommendation is true for both women and men.

Prior to attempting pregnancy, a woman should consume at least 400 micrograms of Folic Acid daily from either fortified foods and/or supplements. A daily Multivitamin is a good source of the recommended Folic Acid.

For a detailed review of the 2010 Guidelines, go to:

Further dietary resources: