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A new study suggests that couples can get pregnant more easily if both the man and woman eat seafood more frequently.
In the study, the researchers found that couples who included more seafood in their diet had sex more often and tended to get pregnant faster than couples who ate less seafood.
However, the study only found a link between seafood consumption, sexual activity, and fertility; it has not proven cause and effect
In addition, couples did not need to eat a large amount of seafood - including canned shrimp, tuna, and salmon - to see a link between consumption of these foods and their likelihood of conceiving. Couples who both partners consumed two or more 4-ounce servings of seafood per week while trying to get pregnant took less time to get pregnant and had sex more often than couples who ate less seafood, according to the study published online May 23 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Seafood and fertility
In the study, researchers looked at data collected from about 500 couples in Texas and Michigan who tried to have a baby and were not being treated for infertility. At the beginning of the study, the researchers interviewed each partner individually and asked how often he or she had consumed seafood in the past 12 months. Participants also kept daily records of their food intake at various times throughout the year-long study.
After one year, 92 percent of couples who both partners consumed more than two servings of seafood per week became pregnant, compared with 79 percent of couples who both partners consumed two or less servings per week.
9 foods to avoid while trying to get pregnant
We should say, don't freak out if you've eaten any of these things recently - they probably won't do much harm in moderation. However, if you want to play it safe, it is best to keep these foods to a minimum when trying to get pregnant and for the most part to remove them from the list after testing positive.
1. Fish that are high in mercury
Mercury can damage the nervous system, which means that consuming mercury-rich seafood like swordfish and tuna while pregnant could harm the fetus directly, says Kendra Tolbert, RD (The FDA recently updated its guidelines on safe and unsafe decisions; see here. ) If you eat mercury-rich fish before pregnancy, stores of mercury can build up in your body, which could also affect the baby's nervous system development. "The fetal nervous system is formed before most women even know they are pregnant," explains registered nutritionist Suzanne Fisher. Mercury can also affect fertility.
Some studies have also linked soda - both diet and regular - to lower fertility. "We believe it's a combination of inflammation and metabolic changes caused by too much blood sugar-raising sweeteners and artificial sweeteners that alter gut bacteria," says Tolbert. Also, many soft drinks come in containers that contain BPA and other chemicals that you may want to avoid.
3. Trans fats
Trans fats found in foods like certain chips or microwave popcorn, shortened baked goods, and fried foods can cause inflammation and insulin resistance, which lowers fertility, Tolbert says. And in excess, they can damage your blood vessels and disrupt the flow of nutrients to the reproductive system. Men should also spare trans fats while the couple is trying to get pregnant, as they decrease the number and quality of sperm.
4. High glycemic index foods
If you want to increase your fertility, avoid foods that make your blood sugar levels sky high, especially if you don't combine them with foods that slow them down. "Spikes in blood sugar can cause inflammation, change our hormones, and prevent ovulation," says Tolbert. If possible, try to favor slow-burning carbohydrates like whole grain bread and pasta or brown rice over refined ones, and combine them with protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
5. Low fat dairy products
Low-fat milk, yogurt, and other dairy products can contain androgens, male hormones that are left behind in removing fat, Tolbert says. These foods and drinks can stimulate your body to produce androgens, which can affect your menstrual cycle.
6. Excess alcohol
The CDC recommends women who could get pregnant avoid alcohol entirely (not entirely realistic), but if you want to drink, Tolbert suggests limiting it to seven drinks a week. Alcohol, like mercury, can contribute to infertility and deprive your body of vitamin B, improving your chances of conceiving and helping the fetus to grow.
7. Unpasteurized soft cheese
Cheeses like brie, roquefort, camembert, and gorgonzola have a higher risk of containing listeria, which can increase the risk of miscarriages, Fisher says.
8. Delicatessen meat
Processed meats such as lunchtime meats and hot dogs, as well as smoked fish, are also susceptible to contamination with listeria. If you're looking to eat deli meats, Fisher recommends heating them until they're steaming to kill bacteria.
9. Raw animal products
Raw meat, seafood, and eggs can contain salmonella, coliform bacteria, or toxoplasmosis, which can infect a fetus when it crosses the placenta, Fisher says. Make sure that you cook all animal products thoroughly and avoid sushi, carpaccios and the like.
While fish is a very important part of a healthy diet, it's too early to say that couples who eat more seafood will see changes in their fertility results, he said.
One of the study's major weaknesses is that it didn't take into account the fertility histories of men and women, Licciardi told Live Science. For example, women in the study who ate more seafood and got pregnant faster were on average slightly older than women who ate less fish.
Older women may be more likely to have different children, suggesting they have a proven history of fertility, Licciardi noted. This could explain why these couples took less time to get pregnant.