Rosie Brogan (RB): There’s a lot of buzz about fertility cleansing diets. What are these and are they safe?
Phillippa Golley (PG): Forget about fertility cleansing diets that promise miraculous results. There's little or no evidence to support their use, they are generally unsustainable and they can place women at risk of nutritional deficiencies.
RB: Are there any popular fertility diets that women should steer clear of?
PG: Women should steer clear of fertility diets that promote a single food or nutrient as a magic bullet. Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet that includes foods from the five food groups gives women the best chance of conceiving.
RB: What foods should women who want to fall pregnant eat?
PG: If you're contemplating pregnancy you'll give yourself the best chance if you eat a balanced diet, achieve a healthy body weight and take part in regular exercise.
Try to include plenty of low GI, fibre-rich breads and cereals and fruit and vegetables.
Replace trans fat and saturated fats found in processed biscuits, pastries and cakes with healthier unsaturated fats in olive oil, avocado and nuts.
Include a good mix of animal and plant protein such as lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs and legumes and aim for three serves of dairy foods each day.
Taking a multivitamin that contains 500 micrograms of folic acid is strongly recommended to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
There's also emerging evidence that a multivitamin containing vitamin B6, B12 and vitamin E might improve fertility, but more research is needed before recommendations can be made for these nutrients.
RB: Which foods should women who are trying to conceive avoid?
PG: Aim to achieve a healthy body weight before conceiving. If you are overweight or obese, seek advice.
Limit high fat, high sugar processed foods. These often replace healthier foods and can lead to excessive weight gain.
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy avoid alcohol.
Avoid foods that increase the risk of listeria – for example, soft cheeses, paté, pre-prepared salads, processed and undercooked meat, and smoked and raw seafood.
RB: What’s the best advice a dietician can give to a pregnant woman and to a new mum?
Look after yourself:
- If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, take a daily supplement that contains 500 micrograms of folic acid (prior to conception and in early pregnancy).
- Try to eat a variety of fresh food. Limit high fat, high sugar processed foods to avoid excessive gestational weight gain and to help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight.
- If you are carrying excess weight, talk to an Accredited Practicing Dietitian about safe and appropriate weight loss. Being obese during pregnancy places both mother and baby at risk.
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