Selected Podcast

Is Your Diet Ruining Your Ability to Conceive?

You may not realize that the food you put in your mouth affects your ability to conceive.

If you and your partner have been trying to conceive, it could be an overly-emotional and frustrating process if you're not seeing any results.

Infertility is the inability to get pregnant, even though you and your partner have been having frequent unprotected sex for at least six months to a year. As you may know, as you age your chances of conceiving begin to decrease.

According to Resolve, the National Infertility Association, one in eight married couples has trouble getting pregnant or sustaining pregnancy.

Before heading to your doctor to begin invasive testing, you might want to try your own fertility treatments by switching up your diet. You may already know how much food can affect your emotional, physical and mental health, but it could also be affecting your ability to make a baby.

What are the foods you should be avoiding?

Jamie Grifo, MD, PhD, discusses the foods you might be eating that can affect your fertility.
Is Your Diet Ruining Your Ability to Conceive?
Featured Speaker:
Jaime Grifo Jamie Grifo, MD, PhD, is Program Director of the New York University (NYU) Fertility Center. He is also Director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the NYU Langone Medical Center.

As Co-Directorof the NYU Egg Freezing Division, his team has created one of the largest egg preservation programs and is currently developing a new generation of embryo screening. Dr. Grifo's research in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis/screening (PGD/PGS) led to the delivery of the first healthy baby in the U.S. using the embryo biopsy procedure he developed.

He has appeared on CBS This Morning, NBC's Today Show, Good Morning America, Oprah and has been interviewed and featured in countless print media outlets including the New Yorker, New York Times, Newsweek, and Wall Street Journal.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: April 2, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

Anti-aging and disease prevention radio is right here on RadioMD. Here's author, blogger, lecturer and national medical media personality, Dr. Michael Smith, MD, with Healthy Talk.

DR MIKE: So, you know, maybe you're trying to conceive and maybe having some issues. So, I wanted to bring on a guest who could talk a little bit about what our diet and maybe lifestyle can do to hamper or help us to have a baby.

His name is Dr. Jamie Grifo. He's a medical doctor and program Director of the New York University Fertility Center. He's the Director of Reproductive Endocrinology and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Medical Center. Dr. Grifo's research led to the delivery of the first healthy baby in the U.S. using the embryo biopsy procedure he developed. He has been on many media outlets: CBS This Morning; NBC's Today Show; Good Morning, America; Oprah. He's written for The New Yorker; The New York Times. He's really been all over with his research and it's an honor to have Dr. Grifo on the show. He's also co-author of The Whole Life Fertility Plan. Dr. Grifo, welcome to Healthy Talk

DR GRIFO: Thank you, so much. Good morning.

DR MIKE: So, let's get right into this. Maybe I should just start off with, "So, how does our diet and lifestyle affect conception?"

DR GRIFO: Well, first of all, a bad diet is not contraception, but it does have an impact on the efficiency of a very complicated system and from the female perspective, the production of an egg and an environment for an egg to develop into an embryo and grow into baby is dependent on nutrients and if they're missing or absent or diminished, they can have effects on development. So, a good, healthy lifestyle is important. If you have a diet that's lacking in fat, that's not a good thing. This idea that low fat is a good idea is wrong. There's evidence that protein is very important for embryo development and with a diet deficient in protein, embryo development is compromised and, thus, pregnancy rates are as well. It's kind of common sense. There's not a whole lot to it. A balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of protein and a good 30% of your calories from fat, 25% of your calories from protein and just good, healthy nutritious food and then you've done everything you can do.

DR MIKE: Well, Dr. Grifo, it might...I mean to us, it's easy. It makes sense, but the Standard American Diet is not very balanced and not healthy and I think that this is an important topic. I think more people need to realize that maybe we need to start at the basics, right?

DR GRIFO: Oh, absolutely. No, it's really critical, but whole, healthy, natural foods can solve a lot of problems and processed foods just aren't going to give you the nutrients you need.

DR MIKE: Yes. Dr. Grifo, there was a recent report, and I want to say I saw it on CNN maybe a couple of nights ago, that 60% of our calories are coming from processed foods now.

DR GRIFO: Yes. That's just not optimal.

DR MIKE: That's pretty bad.

DR GRIFO: You know, they lack the nutrients that Mother Nature puts in there. Anything that you pluck out of the ground is going to have lots of healthy stuff in it. Stuff we don't even know about—we think we understand everything there is to know about nutrition. We don't. There are lots of micronutrients and things we just have yet to learn about and they must impact our health.

DR MIKE: Yes. Good point. So, this question came up from a listener awhile back and I really didn't know how to answer it, so I thought since I was having you on, I'd let you answer this. The question was:

"Should I be worried about my lipstick if I'm trying to get pregnant?" Why is she even bringing that question up?

DR GRIFO: Yes. Because there's lead actually in some of these lipsticks and it's not published on the side of the bottle how much is there and then, does it get absorbed and does it affect your eggs and the developing embryo? No one knows, but it's not an experiment we're ever going to do to try and find out. It can't be good putting lead on your lips and then swallowing it. You know, you have to be careful about the kind of lipstick that you use and actually micromanage those facts. A lot of products that we use every day...

DR MIKE: Oh, so this listener is pretty in to it.

DR GRIFO: Excuse me?

DR MIKE: Yes, so this listener was actually pretty on top of things.

DR GRIFO: She probably read our book because in our book there's a segment about that—about some of the lipsticks that do have lead in them and no one knows. So, do your homework.

DR MIKE: So, the diet's important. We know that the fresh fruit is important. The chemicals in our environment. I think in your book, The Whole Life Fertility Plan, you also wrote about plastics. What's the issue there?

DR GRIFO: Well, there is some evidence that BPA's interfere with embryo development and also affect fertility and are associated with higher miscarriage rates. The problem with a lot of these studies is they're all statistical studies and they don't show a direct cause and effect. There are just so many unanswered questions that you have to be careful about what you expose yourself to and the more natural the product, the less likely it is to be of harm. Maybe you shouldn't microwave your things in plastic and maybe you should just make fresh food out of the garden or out of the garden part of your store and just eat good, healthy, fresh food. There are all these concerns and there is data supporting them and there are not the answers that we would all love to have that are definitive. So, you just have to use common sense and be smart about your choices.

DR MIKE: So, let's shift the question, though, to age, then, at this point. So, we're going to eat cleaner. We know that. Like we said, some of the basics, but those basics are important. Watch the chemicals and not just in lipstick, but even in the processed foods, right? Everyday household products, air fresheners. All that kind of stuff. What about the age of a woman or the age of a man? I mean, how old is too old, I guess?

DR GRIFO: Yes. That's a great question and Mother Nature's been very unkind in her system design. Men have germ cells in their testicle that every 90 days, they make a fresh sperm population and when those sperm are created and go through myosis, 99.9% of them are chromosomally normal. Women's eggs, however, are different. A woman has all the eggs she's ever going to have as a fetus, when she's 20 weeks in her mother's womb and that's about 7 million. She's born with 1-2 million, gets to puberty, has 600,000 and then every month, selects 500 of those eggs to ovulate one good one, which most of the time isn't good.

As she gets older and those eggs go through myosis at the time of ovulation and fertilization, so when a 40 year old ovulates, you've got 100 women pregnant, one of them has Down's syndrome whereas at 25, you've got 12,050 women pregnant and 1 of them has Down's syndrome. So, age is a big factor in female fertility and the decline of female fertility and the increased risk for a baby with a genetic abnormality—not a congenital abnormality. Also, miscarriage rates are higher and the fertility declines 50% from age 30-40 and every 2 years after 40. Pretty much, over the age of 44, most women having babies are not telling you it's from an egg donor because eggs at that age just don't make babies very efficiently.

So, women have to know these facts in terms of planning their fertile life. Not that you can plan your fertile life. You can't plan the guy, but the longer you wait, the more likely you are to have to end up seeing somebody like me and, as you said earlier, prevention is the best thing. So, know your facts. Do your homework and try and make good decisions.

DR MIKE: Yes. We'll talk a little bit about that prevention aspect during the break. Just to listeners know, Dr. Grifo was really interested in talking about some of that genetic testing he can do. We'll get into that maybe in the next segment. I wanted to, lastly, wrap this up with, you had another part in your book that I thought was interesting about acupuncture. Is that good or does that help?

DR GRIFO: So, stress is not--again, it's not contraception, but a highly stressed individual who's in that fight or flight response doesn't ovulate efficiently and the quality of the environment and egg for an embryo to develop is minimized. So, managing your stress is very important while going through fertility treatment.
Fertility treatment alone is incredibly stressful. Stress isn't a cause of infertility, but managing it can help the outcome.

DR MIKE: Dr. Grifo, let's hold that thought because I want to get into more about stress and what stress management can do for conception and we'll talk, also, about some genetic testing as well.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I'm Dr. Mike. Stick around.