The Fertility Diet by Chavarro, Willett and Skerrett offers a comprehensive guide to the effect of food on fertility.

Drawing on various medical research projects including the Nurses’ Health Study (where 20,000 female nurses gave information about all aspects of their journey towards pregnancy), the book is authoritative but set out in such a way that it is readable and interesting.

After a general introduction to each gender’s reproductive system, the authors describe various disorders that may hamper conception (including a very good section on polycystic ovary syndrome). The book then systematically goes through the various food groups giving simple advice about each.

There are a number of themes to this book which will appeal to would-be parents. Firstly, the authors take the view that everyone has the power to boost their own fertility by adopting simple lifestyle changes. It is the kind of book that puts the ball firmly in the court of the reader, and empowers him or her to take straightforward steps towards achieving a pregnancy by changing their diet and fitness levels.

The Fertility Diet champions a “low tech” approach, and sensitive to the fact that not everyone can spare hours each day for the preparation of complicated meals.

The authors give recommendations about what the “ideal” weight range would be for a woman to get pregnant, but adopt a forgiving and realistic tone that means that readers are encouraged to make moves in the general direction of those targets. This is not one of those books that will consider you to have failed if you do not stick rigidly to the diets and hit the weight loss targets exactly.

This is a book that strikes exactly the right balance between giving medical information about nutrition and its effects on the reproductive system without being too technical or dry. There are plenty of facts, but the book is very easy to understand.

The meal planning information and recipe suggestions in the back of the book are great because they put the suggestions about, for example, boosting your consumption of beans and pulses into actual dishes that you may never have tried before. The meal planner part here does recommend many so called super foods including numerous berries, which would drive up the food bill considerably of the average UK supermarket shopper. However, given that the book is written by US authors and probably aimed at a US audience, it may be that these fruits are more affordable in American food shops.

The advice that women should drink a glass of full fat milk every day is extremely welcome in a world where dairy foods are typically shunned for being too fattening. The advice on calcium is fascinating, as is the importance of maximising your bone density.

If you are considering trying for a baby and want to get yourself and your partner into the best possible shape and health to conceive, this book would be a valuable source of information.

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