Infertility is an incredibly frustrating and stressful process affecting far more people than you might expect. In fact, over 6 million couples in the U.S. (or 1 in 6) experience infertility, which is defined as not being able to get pregnant after a year or more of unprotected sex—and that number isn’t likely to drop anytime soon.
The sad part, infertility is rarely addressed holistically—and much of the focus remains solely on the reproductive system. I have so many friends who are going through IVF, IUI, or other forms of fertility treatment without support from their team on what supplements to take (beyond a prenatal), what foods to eat, or on monitoring their vitamin and inflammatory levels. This can often lead to unsuccessful treatment outcomes if the woman is still under chronic stress, hormone suppressed, malnourished, or inflamed.
The good news: As a functional medicine dietitian, I’ve found that diet and nutritional status can significantly influence your inflammation and hormones, essentially pressing the reset button on your body’s fertility.
Throughout my career, I spent a lot of time creating protocols for autoimmune disease, metabolic syndrome, weight loss, digestive distress and disease, and balancing women’s hormones (focusing on PCOS); and I had been using a ketogenic diet in practice to reduce inflammation and aid in gut restoration, blood sugar balance, diabetes management, and body fat loss. But it was not until I started to experience infertility myself that I started to explore how these anti-inflammatory, gut restoring, and metabolic impacts could influence fertility and healthy conception.
In fact, for the first six years of using the ketogenic diet as a tool in my clinic, I didn’t think I “needed” to go keto myself, as my blood sugar was balanced, I wasn’t overweight, and I wasn’t chronically inflamed. But after seeing what seemed like the 50th “infertile” client get pregnant after completing my ketosis protocol (it always seems like everyone is getting pregnant around you when you’re trying to conceive!), I decided to give it a go and explore the mechanisms of action. Spoiler: I now have a 3-year-old daughter—so needless to say, it worked for me too!