The discovery may open new opportunities for women to increase their chances of getting pregnant by taking on a diet rich in protein, researchers said.
“With further studies, it’s possible that instead of women with subfertility resorting immediately to invasive IVF techniques, an alternative strategy may be developed to change the ratio of dietary macronutrients to improve female fertility,” said research co-leader Dr Samantha Solon-Biet of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre.
As research indicates, this is the first time it was noticed in mammals the ideal balance of macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fat – that promotes reproduction and increasing life span.
Experimenting on mice, researchers noticed that a diet high in protein and low-carbohydrate optimized the reproductive performance, while a lower protein, high-carbohydrate diet had a benefic effect on health and life span, said Professor David Le Couteur of the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and the ANZAC Research Institute.
Different diets were needed at different stages in life, and the ratio of macronutrients was crucial in the effectiveness of the process, not the amount of foods, Prof. Couteur said.
Based on this study, the traditional theory that animals have to make concessions between reproduction and longevity when resources are limited has been questioned.
“Animals don’t have to choose between high fertility and a long life. By managing diet throughout our life cycle, we can have both,” Dr Solon-Biet said.