Diet and Healthy Sperm
Diet Affects Sperm Health
It certainly seems that the information that a man's diet affects his sperm health should not be making current headlines, but it is. There have been some studies done over the past two years, two at Harvard and one in Brazil that confirm what most of us already know. Eating poorly produces poor quality sperm. For years women have closely monitored their diets in a bid to ensure optimum health in order to conceive. Men are just catching on. Although it's hard to believe, it's true. Maybe it is because women have been at the center of the fertility issue for years, when in fact, men account for 40 percent of the cases of infertility and conception problems.
Drop the Donut, Fella - Trans-fats are Killers
In one of the Harvard studies, researchers found that men with the lowest trans-fatty acid intake had roughly double the average sperm concentration as other men - 79 million sperm per mL compared to 48 million among those with the highest intake of trans-fat laden food. Study author Audrey Gaskins, a PhD candidate at the Harvard School of Public Health says that more research is needed, but it's possible that trans-fats may accumulate in sperm and wipe them out over time.
In a second study, the semen of 188 college-aged men were examined by Crimson researchers and found that those who ate a healthy diet, one with a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fish, had more motile sperm than those whose diets were comprised of pizza and foods with high trans-fat content. The motility rates of the healthy men were nearly seven percent higher than those of the less-healthy men.
Ms. Gaskins explains that "A healthy diet with lots of plant foods tends to be packed with antioxidants. Oxidative stress can impair sperm, but eating antioxidant-rich foods may protect semen quality."
Eat the Mediterranean Way
The best and easiest way to boost diet quality is to cut down (or cut out) packaged foods, which tend to be high in trans fats and low in antioxidants. A Mediterranean style diet that is based on fish, lots of fresh vegetables and olive oil is a good choice for eating to enhance sperm performance. Fish contains Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, the kind of fat the body needs for health and what a man's body needs for production of healthy sperm. Olive oil and flax seed oil are healthy sources of Omegas as well.
The Same Results in Brazil!
In the Brazilian study, 250 men undergoing the fertility treatment ICSI, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, were assessed by questionnaire on their consumption of fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, meat, fish, as well as how often they resorted to smoking and drinking. ICSI is a process used most often when a man does not produce enough concentrated sperm to impregnate a woman. The sperm is removed from the man and injected directly into an egg that is later inserted into the woman's uterus.
The study found that poor diet and drinking habits of men reduced sperm motility and lowered their partner's chance of pregnancy.
· A high BMI (overweight) and drinking alcohol lowered the concentration and motility of sperm.
· Smoking affected sperm motility (how well the sperm swim).
· Chances of fertilization were diminished with coffee and alcohol consumption.
· Red meat kicked the bottom out of embryo implantation and pregnancy rates.
A short-lived reformation of eating well a few days before fertility treatments didn't fix the problem. It takes months of cleaning up to improve sperm quality - there are no quick fixes. The study was a reality check for couples in fertility treatment. They have to recognize that it isn't just the woman's responsibility to eat well and take good care of her body; the man has to do the same thing if fertility treatments are going to be more successful.
Male sperm health accounts for 40 percent of infertility issues. Learn more about how to improve sperm health in this section.