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Eating for Two: Diets that Improve Fertility in Men

November 14, 2018
Katie Visco

Everyone knows it takes two to tango, and the fertility of both partners is essential for good pregnancy outcomes. For males, certain foods have been shown to boost fertility. When trying to conceive (and in general), consider adopting a healthier lifestyle to ensure your body is at its prime.

  • What to eat more of
  • What to cut out
  • Other lifestyle changes

Count Vitamins, Not Calories

A diet is often associated with weight loss and cutting down on the intake. While obesity has been shown to negatively affect fertility, the purpose of a fertility diet is to improve your eating habits, not eliminate them.  

If you believe your weight may be contributing to problems with fertility, consider looking to a nutritionist to create a more comprehensive plan for you.

As always, adding other healthy behaviors to this diet, such as exercise, will also boost your fertility.

Zinc

Zinc has been linked to the increase in testosterone, sperm motility, and count. It also plays role roles in maintaining the lining of reproductive organs and acts as an antibacterial in the urea system.

Since zinc is not naturally stored in the body, it is important to consume zinc-rich foods. Some studies show that zinc deficiencies could actually cause infertility.

Examples of foods that are rich in zinc include oysters, beans, and pumpkin seeds.

Vitamin C

Foods rich in vitamin C assist in sperm count, motility, and morphology, meaning they could increase sperm health through many aspects.

In a study was done with infertile men, two 1,000 mg doses of vitamin C daily for two months resulted in a 32.8 percent increase in count, 60.1 percent increase in motility, and 66.7 percent normal morphology.

Foods known for vitamin C are oranges, broccoli, and strawberries.

A little-known fact: strawberries actually contain more vitamin C than oranges!

Folate

Folate is important for more than just sperm health. It has been shown to help with cell division in general.

Dark, leafy greens tend to be rich in folate. This means you should stock up on vegetables like kale and spinach.

Arginine

Arginine is an amino acid that improves sperm motility.

Your dessert may be rich in arginine since dark chocolate contains this sperm booster.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Salmon and sardines are just a few of the foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids improve the quality and quantity of sperm.

If you are not a fan of seafood, consider adding nuts, seeds, or plant oils to your diet.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants reduce the prevalence of free radicals in your body. Foods rich in antioxidants include most fruit, but pomegranate has a particularly high antioxidant content.

Selenium

Selenium is a vitamin that has been proven to improve sperm count, shape, and motility. It tends to be found in Brazilian nuts, although some alternatives include cottage cheese, chicken, and lentils.

Water

As obvious as this sounds, water is essential for your health. In terms of sperm health, water actually improves the seminal fluid that sperm travels in.

Say No to Nugs

Adding foods to your diet is only half of a true fertility diet. Removing or reducing certain foods in your diet will ensure your efforts are not going to waste.

Fried Foods

While fried foods may feel good for your soul, they are not good for your sperm.

Full-Fat Dairy

Full-fat dairy contains estrogen, which can lower testosterone and the amount of healthy sperm. For women, full-fat dairy can actually aid their fertility.

Processed Meat

Processed meats can lower sperm count. In a study done by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, men who ate the least amount of processed meats had a 28 percent better chance of conceiving.

If you really want to commit to a fertility diet, you should consider reducing how much bacon, ham, and jerky you consume.

Caffeine

Consuming too much caffeine can lower sperm count and alter morphology. Switch to decaf coffees and teas while trying to conceive, or at least limit daily consumption.

Alcohol

Just like caffeine, too much alcohol can negatively impact your sperm count. According to The Guardian, just 5 drinks a week can decrease the quality of a man’s sperm.

Some studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption actually increases sperm health.

This does not mean you should use your fertility as an excuse to start drinking. Rather, this is a good time to create healthy boundaries for alcohol.

Soda

Soda is high in chemicals and sugar and has been shown to decrease sperm motility. If you crave a bubbly drink, switching to carbonated waters or fermented teas can help take the edge off.

What Else?

It can be easy to get caught up in what a diet entails, but addressing other parts of your lifestyle could be just as beneficial.

Moderate Exercise

Maintaining a regime with moderate exercise is essential to your health. Too much exercise can harm sperm development, so finding a balance is important.

Activities such as cycling can actually harm sperm production due to interactions with the genital area.

Stress Management

Psychological stress has implications for male fertility due to its effect on sperm development. The interactions among stress hormones and other hormones in the body cause a decrease in important sperm-developing factors.

Dealing with infertility can cause a lot of psychological stress, along with other everyday factors. Learning to confront stress and manage it could be beneficial for your fertility and overall life.

Heat Exposure

The temperature of the scrotum affects fertility since the ideal environment for sperm development is lower than normal body temperature. Factors like tight clothing or prolonged heat exposure can increase the temperature at which sperm develops, leading to lower production.

Assessing multiple aspects of your life can be beneficial for your fertility. Consult with a professional if you want to create a more comprehensive plan. In terms of diet, it can be hard to make changes suddenly.

Slowly add these new foods into your life and replace the ones you are cutting out with healthier alternatives. Do not stress about having the perfect diet immediately. Adopt better habits and it will help you in the long run.

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