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The Fertility Diet

I read The Fertility Diet by Jorge Chavarro after seeing it listed as a reference in Nina Planck's Real Food for Mother and Baby. She has many great sources and I liked the whole book so much I'm not going to blog about it or it'll just be a book summary. It's so chock full of good and interesting information (see my Nutrition to Grow a Baby section for a lot more info from her book).

The fertility diet is a great resource to have, among others. I love how it's based on such a long running, well done, study with thousands of participants. But, I disagree with some of the conclusions (or lack of) that the authors came to. Primarily, it's the recommendation to drink "diet" drinks for those who want sweetness and fizz. It's encouraging to see they acknowledge the harmfulness of sugar - even in juices - which many people think must be good since it's natural but they turn a blind eye on the even more harmful dangers of artificial sweeteners which make a drink "diet". It's almost contradictory advice - don't eat or drink processed foods for fertility but if you need sweetness, go for "diet". (See my section Food Facts for more information on artificial sweeteners).

I also must really disagree with the recommendation on page 121 to stop consuming whole milk once you get pregnant! If that's what your body needed to make a baby then wouldn't it need it to keep nourishing the baby? I see it as pulling a bait and switch on your body: give it what it needs to sustain a pregnancy yet once it starts creating a baby, you stop providing the nutrients. The reasoning seems to be "extra calories" but during pregnancy you need more energy and brain building fats than ever! These won't be "extra" since your body's demand for calories is higher. If you are worried about a few extra pounds that you put on - that's also biological! You need energy stores from which to draw on during breastfeeding. Whole milk (vs skim or lower fat) is only about 200 cal more according to the book and it provides many nutrients you and especially your baby need. If you really want to cut calories, look elsewhere or exercise more. If you really want to go back to lower fat milk for whatever reason, you can do so once your baby's main brain growth is complete (about 2/3years of age). The brain continues to grow and develop well past that age but usually that is the age of weaning so for the motherbaby pair it doesn't help the baby for mother to continue drinking nutrients on his behalf if he is weaned.

The rest of the information in the book, that is study-based, is interesting from the scientific view and it's mostly common sense: eat nutrient rich foods, avoid junk, and exercise. I'm glad such a lifestyle is being promoted for fertility but it really should be something we all strive for. Fertility happens in good health so really, shouldn't we all want to be fertile?

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