Monday, April 09, 2007

Study: Low-Fat Dairy Can Lead To Infertility

You might want to reconsider that low-fat dairy if you want kids

We've all heard that we should eat an adequate amount of dairy in our diet, but that we should choose the low-fat or fat-free versions of milk, cheese, and yogurt to provide the most "healthy" food for our bodies. If I had a dime every time I've heard that in my life, then I'd be as wealthy as Bill Gates!

But if you are a woman in those precious few childbearing years, then that widely-accepted dietary advice is just about the most foolish thing you could ever follow if you want to have a baby, according to a new Harvard study discussed in this Medical News Today column.

Lead researcher Dr. Jorge Chavarro, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, and his team observed 18,555 married, premenopausal women ages 24-42 with no history of infertility attempting to get pregnant over an eight-year period (1991-1999). This group of study participants was a subset of the larger group of 116,000 women that were part of The Nurses' Health Study II.

Dr. Chavarro monitored very closely the dietary intake of dairy foods by the women in the study, including the types and frequency of consumption, over the eight years. The women were also asked to provide information about the regularity of their period, if there were any problems with ovulation, and how their attempts to conceive a child were going.

A total of 438 women in the study experienced difficulty trying to have a baby during the study and Dr. Chavarro noticed that most of these women ate more than two portions of low-fat dairy foods daily. In fact, he quantified that women who eat that amount or higher of low-fat dairy every single day are 85 percent more likely to experience infertility compared with those women who eat it less often than once a week.

Interestingly, the researchers found something even more remarkable considering the dietary recommendations that rule the day in our society--those women who ate full-fat dairy foods, including whole milk and even ice cream, on a daily basis saw their risk of being infertile caused by ovulation problems drop by 25 percent compared to those who only ate full-fat dairy once a week. You read that right--CONSUMING FULL-FAT DAIRY DROPS THE RISK OF INFERTILITY BY TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT!

What does the lack of dietary fat from the dairy products consumed by women have to do with their risk for infertility? Plenty! The researchers believe there is a fat-soluble substance in the full-fat dairy foods that works to improve the function of the ovaries. Thus, when that fat-soluble substance gets taken out during the conversion to 2% or skim milk, the health benefits dissipate as well.

Additionally, the processing of full-fat milk to skimmed milk requires the addition of whey protein to the milk to give it a more "natural" taste and color. However, whey protein has been found to produce testosterone-like effects in lab rats and may be the culprit wit the infertility in women consuming low-fat dairy. Oops!

The results of this stunning Harvard study appeared in the February 28, 2007 issue of the scientific journal Reproductive Health.

Well how ya like them apples, hmmm? All this talk about cutting your fat intake way down low in everything you eat is one big crock of you know what and this study is more proof of that fact! Just for kicks, I decided to pay a visit to the Holy Grail of all things related to a healthy to see what the good ole health "experts" advising our government about what's really healthy had to say about dairy intake.

As Frank Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond used to say, "Holy crap!" Under the "Milk Group" page you see that they highly recommend that the "milk group choices should be fat-free or low-fat." But if you click on the "Tips for making wise choices" link on the upper right-hand side of the page, the "Holy-crap-o-meter" goes off the charts!

Check this out (see if you can find the common theme):

- Include milk as a beverage...Choose fat-free or low-fat milk.
- If you usually drink whole milk, fat-free milk.
- Try reduced fat (2%), then low-fat (1%), and finally fat-free (skim).
- If you drink cappuccinos or lattes—ask for...fat-free (skim) milk.
- Add fat-free or low-fat oatmeal and hot cereals.
- Use fat-free or low-fat milk when making...cream soups.
- Have fat-free or low-fat yogurt as a snack.
- Make a dip for fruits or vegetables from yogurt.
- Make fruit-yogurt smoothies in the blender.
- Make chocolate...pudding with fat-free or low-fat milk.
- Top cut-up fruit with flavored yogurt for a quick dessert.
- Top casseroles...or vegetables with shredded low-fat cheese.
- Top a baked potato with fat-free or low-fat yogurt.

What's wrong with this picture? Why all the intense focus on "fat-free or low-fat" options? Clearly these heavily-publicized dietary recommendations are creating a lot of unhappy young couples who are trying to bring a little bundle of joy into the world that they can call their own. On what basis are they pushing these nasty foods that are actually working against women who want to conceive all in the name of "better health?"

I remember from my personal low-fat diet experience in 1999 how utterly disgusting all those low-fat foods really are. The worst ones to me had to be the fat-free cheese and skim milk. The cheese was so gross and didn't even seem like real food. Describing it as a cardboard box texture is being MUCH too kind. And then the white water that passed for skim milk was about as useless and I never got used to drinking that stuff. Getting 2% was about as close as I could get to skim!

However, one thing I continued to do even after I stopped my low-fat diet and started gaining my weight back was to keep drinking 2% milk instead of whole thinking it was somehow a "healthy" alternative. When I started livin' la vida low-carb, I didn't drink regular milk anymore and switched to Hood's Carb Countdown (now called Calorie Countdown) milk instead.

Yet, I kept on buying 2% milk for my wife Christine. We will celebrate 12 years of marriage in August and have been desperately trying to have a baby since we said "I do" to each other in 1995. Unfortunately, the good Lord has not chosen to bless us with a little munchkin just yet and we trust in His perfect timing. But after reading this study, I can't help but think what role the 2% milk Christine has been consuming over the course of our marriage may have had on our inability to conceive. I don't know if it has anything to do with it or not, but you have to wonder.

We're working out the issues that could be the culprit by getting checked out to see if it's me or her preventing the conception, but I know one thing we're gonna start doing--BUYING WHOLE MILK FOR CHRISTINE AGAIN! It may not be the reason for our inability to have a baby at all, but it's certainly worth a try to see if we can get her ovulation to be more consistent and regular to set up a higher probability for a future pregnancy. Cross your fingers and wish us luck!

There have been previous studies that hinted at the possibility of problems with infertility linked to dairy foods, but hardly any of them have been on humans like this one was. That's why Dr. Chavarro wanted to see what impact the fat content in the dairy foods consumed in a woman's diet can play regarding the prospect for motherhood.

Their conclusion: "High intake of low-fat dairy foods may increase the risk of anovulatory infertility whereas intake of high-fat dairy foods may decrease this risk."

Did you get that all you Dr. Dean Ornish-loving low-fatties? Eating lots of low-fat dairy INCREASES infertility while eating lots of high-fat dairy DECREASES infertility. How much clearer can it be that that?! I'd love to hear what Ornish and his low-fat minions have to say about this Harvard study. Let the spinmeisters begin like they did following the Stanford study published in JAMA last month!

If you are a woman trying to have a baby, Dr. Chavarro recommended what I am going to do with Christine's dairy intake.

"Consider changing low-fat dairy foods for high-fat dairy foods; for instance, by swapping skimmed milk for whole milk and eating ice cream, not low fat yogurt," he stated.

HA! Now THAT'S a switch seeing a RECOMMENDATION to eat the high-fat version of a food INSTEAD of the low-fat one. It really makes you wonder what other unintended consequences of this low-fat diet LIE we have been told for decades has had on the health and well-being of our society. How many tens or even hundreds of thousands of women have been left without an answer to their infertility problem while our government has kept on peddling the very reason they never got to be a mother? How sad.

When you stop and think about it, you can't help but wonder out loud about what would have been or even still COULD be if our government would simply end their nonsensical endorsement of the biggest dietary failure of our generation. That's why I have been on the frontlines of the debate to have our government actively promote low-carb alongside low-fat as another healthy dietary option for people to consider for weight and health management.

But, as is the case with most researchers who come out with something positive regarding low-carb, high-fat consumption, Dr. Chavarro got right back on the government talking points in what he recommends after a woman is "with child."

"Once they have become pregnant, then they should probably switch back to low-fat dairy foods as it is easier to limit intake of saturated fat by consuming low-fat dairy foods," he explained.

And what exactly is wrong with saturated fat, Dr. Chavarro? Noted researcher Dr. Jeff Volek has found that consuming saturated fat in combination with a low-carbohydrate diet has no ill effect on your health. In fact, the so-called studies showing how "harmful" saturated fat is like this one are so ill-conceived that they are ripped to shreds by objective researchers like Anthony Colpo.

This continuous onslaught against saturated fat by people who are supposedly intellectuals regarding diet and health is needlessly causing alarm among the general public. The fact is eating saturated fat is good for you and it's high time we stop demonizing it in the same breath as trans fats. Those are indeed bad news for your health, but saturated fat is not even close. The studies about saturated fat are mounting quickly and all you "experts" can apologize to me later for being so ignorant about it now.

At this point, Dr. Chavarro would like to further his research on low-fat dairy as it relates to infertility so he can "confirm or refute the findings" from this study. We'll be watching for those results with great interest, Dr. Chavarro!

You can e-mail Dr. Jorge Chavarro at

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Blogger Sherrie said...

Hey Jimmy I wonder if a big part of that is simply because women eating low fat dairy are also more likely to be eating a low fat diet?

Good luck with the baby making, is Christine on a low carb diet? might help her.


4/10/2007 3:01 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS, Sherrie! Christine is eating LOWER-carb than she used to, but she still eats about 150-200g carbs daily. I'm working on her, though. :)

4/10/2007 8:57 AM  
Blogger Jaded said...

My prayers are with you and your wife. I know how difficult it is to go through infertility. My husband and I were also married in 1995, and our daughter wasn't born until 2002. I can't have any more children, so we have one little miracle! But, I lost 2 before her birth. My problem turned out to be PCOS, but, after reading this article, I am wondering. I was trying the low fat approach at that point, and still buy low fat milk for my daughter. I buy her full fat yogurt and cheese, but, I'm going to switch the milk.

Thanks for this post!

4/10/2007 10:42 AM  
Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

Dairy is as much a fallacy as sugar, maybe even more so. Then there is the way it's grown and what it's fed and the whole processing thing. To this add the hormone and fertility and antibiotic residues and then the air these creatures breath and the water they drink and the food they eat. Cows like chickens and everything else have become polluted factories. Sugar factories no less. And we feed this wholesomeness to our babies and old. It's important to add here that this whole thing like the fishing industry and logging industry and every other industry is one big mistake. One very large "big mistake". We evolved and modernized into this huge machine to make profit. More and more profit. No doubt stimulated by sugar to begin with. No, I'm not exaggerating. This thing is bigger than what I am saying. The grand, continental way things have gone and where it's going is what I'm talking about. What we might be able to do about all this is the why I'm talking. Few see it, it's way too big. We can't see the forest for the trees. Stimulated man.

4/10/2007 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just found this blog and I know the posts are way over a year old.
I hope by this point you've had luck with your journey through infertility.
I know first hand how difficult it can be. Years of treatments, 4 losses and wondering if I should give up.
I love what you've posted about the high-fat dairy foods. Several years ago I was consuming whole milk and conceived 2 times(naturally). Unfortunately I lost both of those pregnancies. I thought it to be pure luck and never associated it with my diet. That was 4 yrs ago and I haven't been pg since - not even with medical intervention.
After reading about the study at Harvard I thought I'd switch back to whole-fat milk. I finally did so about 2 months ago and guess what? I'm pregnant!
I really believe it is the high-fat dairy... I do after all have unexplained infertility - anovulation.
Hope this helps anyone who reads the blog. I know some just don't believe the diet... including many doctors. But I believe with all my heart that it is the high-fat dairy that has helped me!

10/11/2008 9:57 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS Anonymous! Actually my wife and I were NOT able to have any children after failed IVF cycle in December 2007. You can hear us talk about it in this interview with the Twin Peas Podcast earlier this year. We are hopeful about adopting in the future or exploring other options. DEFINITELY there is something to this low-fat dairy connection to infertility and I'm so happy to hear your good news. CONGRATULATIONS!!! :)

10/11/2008 1:58 PM  

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