Health Desk – There are a number of different nutrients you can get in your diet that may help with different aspects of your sperm health, including motility, morphology/DNA quality and sperm count. All of these factors contribute to your overall fertility and your chances of conceiving. Foods such as nuts, leafy greens and lean meats may contribute to healthy sperm.
Unfortunately, there are factors affecting male fertility that cannot be helped by lifestyle and diet changes and will require help from medical professionals. So, if you have been trying to conceive for a while and are not getting success, we recommend you to go for a sperm test. Although sperm tests are limited in their scope—DNA fragmentation is not measured in standard sperm tests—they will help diagnose any serious conditions such as azoospermia (absence of motile sperm in semen).
While there are foods that you should include more of in your diet, there are some that you should reduce or even avoid completely. In this article we will discuss which foods you should eat and what are the benefits as well as the options for vegetables among you.
What should you eat to improve male fertility?
Including more nuts in your diet has been shown to help with male fertility. A 2012 study concluded that “75 grams of walnuts per day improved sperm vitality, motility, and morphology (normal appearance) in a group of healthy, young men eating a Western-style diet.” This is because nuts are a great source of micronutrients, which are important for the development and function of sperm, rich in natural antioxidants and essential fatty acids (EFAs). Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts are the most commonly consumed nuts. But at the end of the day, remember that all nuts are good for fertility, so try to include them in your diet and try different nuts on different days. Nuts are high in calories so try to avoid eating too much, aim for around 30 grams of nuts (about a handful) each day. Raw or roasted nuts provide similar health benefits, however roasted nuts can damage healthy fats so it is best to consume raw to get the maximum benefit and avoid added salt where possible.
2. Spinach and other leafy vegetables-
It is recommended to include more leafy greens in your diet as they are rich in folate. Folate is a key micronutrient in DNA synthesis and may help improve the quality of your sperm. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and peas are also good sources of folate that you can easily add to your diet.
3. Thin pieces of meat-
While processed meat may be bad for your fertility (more on this later) leaner cuts of meat may be beneficial. This is because meat, especially red meat, is an excellent source of zinc. The studies concluded that “poor zinc nutrition may be a significant risk factor for low sperm quality and idiopathic male infertility”. (3)
4. Omega- 3 fatty acids-
The sperm of fertile men is made up of higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. These (EFAs) help to increase blood flow and increase sperm quality. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids come from oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines. Or for those veggies… chia, hemp and/or flaxseed, walnuts, edamame or kidney beans, soybean oil, seaweed and/or algae. For those of you who can’t access these supplements, it’s a good idea to have them.
5. Male fertility supplements-
It is important to take evidence-based supplements. Many supplements available in the market have no clinical evidence and promote the use of strong antioxidants to improve fertility. However, the latest review on antioxidants for male deficiency showed no significant improvement in pregnancy rates or live birth rates.
Impril is different from the standard male fertility supplements on the market. Impril contains a unique combination of active micronutrients including Zinc and Folate, which have been carefully selected to provide optimum support for the development of sperm without causing any harm. Studies have shown that the micronutrients in Impryl not only improve sperm quality but also improve pregnancy and live birth outcomes in sub-fertile men. We recommend taking Impril for at least three months before trying to conceive or undergoing assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as IVF to help promote sperm quality.
What should be avoided for male fertility?
1. Processed Foods-
Several studies have shown that eating a lot of processed meat and foods high in fat and sugar lowers sperm count and decreases motility. For many people, this can be a complete lifestyle change as processed red meat can make up a large part of your diet as well as takeaways and high-calorie snacks. In this case we would recommend replacing your meat with chicken or turkey mince where possible. Regarding highly processed foods like sugary snacks and drinks – do your best to avoid these completely, clear the house of all temptations and introduce more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Swap out takeout with pretend food, it’s a great way to spend more time in the kitchen as a couple cooking together.
Several studies show that frequent drinking every day or even every single drink can have negative effects on sperm. Drinking alcohol can lower levels of key hormones that are important for sperm production, resulting in a lower sperm count. Try to find good alternatives to your usual drinks – virgin cocktails and non-alcoholic beer are two good options that may not hit the right spot in the same way but will help your body produce healthy sperm.
Studies suggest that caffeine consumption may be associated with double-strand DNA breaks (DNA fragmentation). Caffeine has also been associated with sperm aneuploidy, the presence of an abnormal number of chromosomes in a cell that can result in no conception or miscarriage. While these studies are not comprehensive, we recommend that you limit yourself to one tea or coffee a day and go for decaffeinated coffee if you want more.
Following a balanced diet while introducing more healthy options and avoiding those that are unhealthy can help you lose weight. There is a strong link between being overweight (BMI > 25) and unhealthy sperm, so losing weight may be beneficial if your BMI is above that range. Doing some exercise regularly (at least 3 times a week) along with improving your diet will help you move towards a healthier weight and hence improve your sperm quality.
These changes do not guarantee success and we advise you to have a sperm test if you have been trying to conceive for 6-12 months without success. However, making these lifestyle changes will give you a better chance of producing healthy sperm and therefore the best chance of a successful conception.