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Tips to Improve Metabolism that Can Improve Fertility

March 30, 2024

Metabolism, comprising a sequence of biochemical processes vital for sustaining essential bodily functions, exhibits a significant association with conditions such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, and insulin resistance, all of which are implicated in infertility. Research indicates that enhancing metabolism can beneficially influence fertility outcomes.

Metabolic dysfunctions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance are linked to declining fertility primarily due to the production of oxidative stress. Elevated blood sugar levels adversely affect sperm motility and the fertilisation process. Here are some recommendations for enhancing metabolism and thereby boosting your likelihood of conceiving:

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1) Adopt a pro-fertility diet

The dietary choices we make play a critical role in our overall well-being.

The Mediterranean diet (MeD) is known for its reduced intake of trans-fatty acids (TFAs) and increased consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and plant-based protein. Along with lower consumption of animal protein, low-glycaemic index foods, high-fibre foods, and notably high-fat dairy are recognised as a pro-fertility diet. It enhances the likelihood of conception by improving the quality of oocytes and embryos, being abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

Increased fertility is associated with the consumption of high-fat dairy due to its elevated levels of estrogen and fat-soluble vitamins. Interestingly, a higher intake of dairy products is inversely related to the risk of endometriosis. Research indicates that consuming more than three servings of dairy daily decreases the likelihood of an endometriosis diagnosis by 18% compared to consuming two servings. Furthermore, women who consumed over four portions of dairy daily during adolescence had a 32% lower risk of endometriosis in adulthood compared to those who consumed one or fewer portions. Additionally, higher total dairy intake is positively linked to live birth rates among women aged 35 and older.

Steer clear of a Western-style diet (WsD) characterised by high levels of refined and simple carbohydrates (primarily sugar, sweets and sugary beverages) as well as red and processed meats. Avoid foods that are calorie-dense, high in fats, and possess a high glycaemic index while lacking dietary fibre and essential vitamins. Increased consumption of fast food coupled with reduced fruit intake is linked to infertility and a moderate delay in achieving pregnancy.

Fast food and fried items often contain trans-fatty acids, which exhibit pro-inflammatory properties and may heighten insulin resistance, thereby elevating the risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes or metabolic disturbances such as PCOS, which can detrimentally impact fertility. Women adhering to a pro-fertility diet and consuming it regularly (at least three times a week) tend to consume more non-heme iron, take multivitamins—especially those rich in Vitamin B, such as folic acid—and engage in higher levels of physical activity.

Hence, it is advisable to incorporate food items cooked in olive, peanut, and canola oil over low heat, along with an abundance of almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin and sesame seeds, avocados, dairy products such as milk, curd, and yogurt, whole grains, soy-based products, and seafood, as alternatives to animal meat. Such foods are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which possess anti-inflammatory properties and promote fertility. Embrace variety in your diet while avoiding excessive consumption of any single item. Additionally, consider supplementing your

routine with vitamins D and C, folic acid, zinc, and selenium. These act as pro-antioxidants, aiding in the enhancement of gamete quality.

2) Exercise Regularly

Regularly engage in physical activity by dedicating at least 30 minutes to moderate to vigorous exercise sessions at least 5 days per week, and ramp up your efforts whenever possible. There are primarily five types of exercises:

1. Steady-state cardiovascular exercise: This involves activities such as running, using the treadmill, cycling, dancing, and attending aerobic classes with the aim of elevating your heart rate to a maximum of 220 beats per minute.

2. High-intensity interval training (HIIT): Incorporate HIIT workouts into your routine at least 3 times weekly, alternating intense exercise bursts with rest intervals. HIIT has been shown to enhance insulin sensitivity, increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and sex hormone binding globulin levels, and reduce body fat percentage.

3. Mind-body exercises: Include yoga, Pilates, and tai chi in your regimen to not only burn calories but also alleviate stress levels. Specific yoga poses like Garland Pose (Malasana), Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana), Bow Pose (Dhanurasana), and others can improve metabolism and fertility.

4. Muscle-strengthening exercises: Utilise resistance bands, weights, or your own body weight to build muscle strength. Increasing muscle mass can help boost calorie burning at rest and support weight management. Examples of muscle-strengthening exercises include squats, push-ups and triceps dips.

5. Interval exercises: Incorporate interval training, which involves exercising at various intensity levels within the same session to sustain an elevated heart rate. This type of training includes a variety of exercises such as squats, jumping jacks, lunges, bicep curls and crunches.

Additionally, adopt the habit of walking for 30 minutes after each main meal.

3) Sleep Well

Prioritise adequate sleep, aiming for 7-8 hours per night, with 4-6 hours of non-REM sleep and 1.5-2 hours of REM sleep. Quality sleep supports the circadian rhythm and maintains the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, positively influencing hormonal balance and fertility. To improve sleep quality, establish a bedtime routine that includes activities like brushing your teeth, dimming bedroom lights, listening to calming music, and avoiding electronic devices such as mobile phones, laptops and TVs.

Ensure your bedroom is at a comfortable room temperature that is conducive to sleep. Refrain from consuming large meals after 7-7:30 PM and avoid stimulants like coffee, tea, soda and chocolate at night. Resist taking afternoon or evening naps and adhere to a consistent sleep schedule, following the adage "early to bed (10 PM) and early to rise (5-6 AM) for a healthy, wealthy and wise lifestyle."

4) Reduce stress levels through meditation and mindfulness-based interventions.

Emotional stress experienced by infertile females can lead to various physiological disruptions, including tubal spasms, anovulation, abnormal gamete transport, pregestational deficiencies, hyperprolactinemia, and the potential development of the luteinized unruptured follicle syndrome. Mindfulness, characterised by intentional, non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, offers

profound benefits for infertile women, diminishing anxiety, depression, stress, and anger and enhancing overall well-being and quality of life.

Mindfulness-based interventions aim to train individuals in cultivating mindfulness and integrating its principles into daily life, fostering attitudes such as non-judging, patience, beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance, and letting go. These interventions have demonstrated efficacy in improving sleep quality, regulating cortisol levels and activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA), as well as enhancing immune functions—all crucial factors in addressing infertility. Research suggests that individuals practicing mindfulness and meditation exhibit a 43% higher DHEA rate, a hormone vital for male and female fertility, compared to non-practitioners. Seeking guidance from psychologists and trained counsellors can aid in stress reduction, mental calmness, and preparation for fertility treatment procedures.

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