Diet and Nutritional Factors in Male Fertility: Does Diet affect Sperm Quality?
For many couples, starting a family is a sensitive topic. Especially today, with so many young couples caught up in the “grind” and “hustle” of launching a business or climbing the corporate ladder, the right time to bring a child into their lives comes at a later stage.
But for some couples, the struggle goes beyond work commitments. They have trouble conceiving, because one or both partners have infertility issues.
There are several factors that contribute to infertility in men and women - but did you know that a diet for fertility may help address the root issues?
You are what you eat, and this holds true even when it comes to getting pregnant. But - is a diet good for fertility?
Can it actually increase your chances of conceiving and starting a family? Is there a specific diet for low sperm count? And more importantly, is there a natural diet for increasing sperm count? The answer to these questions is - yes.
You can improve your chances of conceiving and starting a family by paying attention to what you eat and incorporating certain superfoods into your diet. Here’s a deeper look at low sperm count and how men can work on it with a diet for fertility.
What Is Male Infertility?
Before we get to the right diet for fertility, we need to understand what infertility is.
Fertility is the ability of men and women to procreate/reproduce naturally, without medical assistance. Infertility, therefore, refers to the inability to get pregnant naturally.
And when a male is unable to make his female partner pregnant naturally, it is referred to as male infertility. Infertility is largely dependent on the quality of a male’s sperm cells and semen quality.
According to data from the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, in half the cases seen, infertility issues stem solely from the male. And, in the last 40 years, the quality of human semen has deteriorated by more than 50%.
Sperm count is dropping, and there are several claims made on the internet as to why: men resting laptops on their laps, which generates heat. Other articles blame the heat from cell phones which are in their pockets. Obesity is also linked to lower sperm counts.
There are other scientific factors that can cause infertility: general health and fitness levels, genetics, diseases and dietary contaminants and diet. A healthy lifestyle and a good diet for fertility are important for healthy sperm cells and semen quality. And there is evidence to prove that certain foods can boost sperm count and increase fertility in men.
What Is A Diet Plan For Good Sperm Production?
If you google the terms “natural diet for increasing sperm count,” “diet for low sperm count,” and “best diet to increase sperm count,” you’d be surprised at the results you get.
What you eat DOES make a difference, and there are hundreds of foods and supplements that promise results. Here are a list of foods to eat and avoid in your diet for fertility.
Diet For fertility: Have More Vitamin C
Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants, which help battle oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when the body’s natural antioxidant defences are overwhelmed, because of age, an unhealthy lifestyle, or pollution.
There’s also evidence that this kind of oxidative stress increases infertility in men.
Vitamin C can improve sperm count and semen quality when taken in Vitamin C-rich foods and in supplement form. Citrus fruits, asparagus and pomegranates should be added to your diet.
Diet For Fertility: Have More Ashwagandha
An Indian superfood, it helps
"increase testosterone levels and boosts sperm quality and fertility in men."
Several studies have shown an increase in sperm concentration after consumption of Ashwagandha root. The medicinal herb with anti-inflammatory properties is also known to help lower cortisol levels, the body’s stress hormone.
Diet For Fertility: Have More Ginger
If you are suffering from low sperm count or low testosterone levels, ginger can work wonders. A versatile herb and spice, it can be used in food as well as drinks. Ginger boosts testosterone, which may boost fertility. You can also have ginger powder (saunth).
Diet For Fertility: Have More Zinc-Rich Foods
Studies indicate that zinc deficiency and low zinc levels are linked to low testosterone levels, poor sperm quality, and an increased risk of male infertility. Meat, fish, eggs and shellfish are good sources of zinc.
Diet For Fertility: Have More Fruits And Vegetables
We all know that most of our plate should be covered with vegetables and fruits - and if you are struggling with infertility, even more so.
A study cited by the University Of Chicago indicates that men who hate more fruits and vegetables - in particular plant proteins like beans and legumes, along with leafy greens - had higher sperm concentrations compared to men who ate less fruits and vegetables.
These plant-based whole foods are antioxidant-rich, with good levels of Vitamin C and lycopene, micronutrients which have been linked to higher sperm concentrations.
Diet For Fertility: Avoid Processed Meat
Sausages, bacon, salami, cold cuts - they’re all high in sodium, nitrates and other stuff that’s bad for you. Studies have shown that processed meat can decrease sperm count and alter sperm motility (movement).
The exact link is not clear, but the effects are not positive overall; so these foods are best avoided.
Diet For Fertility: Avoid Trans Fats
Trans fats are a no-no for heart health, weight gain and overall well-being. And the same goes for sperm count. A study conducted in Spain in 2011 linked increased trans fat intake to lower sperm count.
Diet For Fertility: Avoid Excess Soy
Soy contains oestrogen and high amounts of soy can hamper sperm function. Soy products contain phytoestrogens, which are plant-based estrogen-like compounds. A study of 99 men from fertility clinics in Boston showed that too much soy could decrease sperm concentration.
Diet For Fertility: Avoid High-Fat Dairy Products
Milk may be rich in calcium, but it will not work well for you if you are having fertility issues. An analysis (the Rochester Young Men’s Study) showed that consumption of high-fat dairy products like whole milk, cheese and cream) among men in the 18-22 age group was linked to decreased sperm motility (movement) and abnormal sperm shape.
Diet For Fertility: Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol in high amounts is bad for fertility and should be avoided if you are trying to get pregnant. Doctors recommend no more than 10 drinks a week for men. But be smart about it and space it out - Don’t have all 10 drinks in one night or weekend.
Diet For Fertility: Avoid Foods Contaminated With BPA
BPA stands for Bisphenol A, and is an organic synthetic compound that is found in plastics and a lot of packaged food. They are also found in meat and fish due to water bodies contaminated with plastic.
It leaches into the food we eat, either through the packaging or via the water supply. Be vigilant about your utensils and the kind of packaged food you buy - you are better off sticking to a whole-food diet.
In addition to these foods to eat and avoid, it is also important to get enough exercise to maintain a good sperm count and semen quality.
Diet For Fertility: Plans From Nutrition By Lovneet
We understand fertility issues can be a sensitive topic. And as much as trips to the OB-GYN (for women) and fertility specialists (for men) help, coupling that advice with a good diet can help you on your journey to parenthood.
Nutrition does affect fertility and sperm count in men - and the right diet for fertility can help. In fact, more often than not, the influence of diet on fertility and conceiving is overlooked.
Whether you are looking to conceive naturally or through IVF, diet can impact how successful your efforts are.
The fertility programs at Nutrition By Lovneet are loaded with essential vitamins and nutrients which will help increase your sperm count naturally so that you can conceive.
How we work:
- We first sit down with the couple to understand where they are struggling and run them through the basics of nutrition for fertility. We run individual physical health assessments based on your blood reports and medical prescriptions.
We assess your daily routine, food preferences and fitness levels. We look at any underlying medical conditions ( if any) and first design a program to heal and manage those.
- We chalk out a diet plan aimed at boosting fertility, a chart that will nourish your bodies to make them strong and ready to be able to start your natural /in-vitro conception process.
- We make it a point to include plenty of Indian and local foods, making it an easy, accessible and sustainable diet to follow
- We guide you through the process with consultations and advice.
You can learn more about the Fertility Nutrition Program
Read more about men’s health and fertility nutrition here.