Does male fertility depend on nutrition?
A nutrient dense diet and an active and balanced lifestyle will help keep your sperm in tip-top condition. So, if you're trying to conceive, now is the perfect time to consider making some positive dietary and life sty changes.
What is the recommended male fertility diet
Your diet should be every bit as varied, nutritious and nutritious as the Female Fertility Diet. Eat foods from all the food groups each day:
Stay hydrated, start and end your day with some lemon water to cleanse the system, and drink at least 6-8 glasses of water throughout the day.
Eat a nutrient dense and breakfast, a healthy lunch and a light early dinner. Don’t forget some small but nutritious snacks in between.
Healthy carbohydrates such as quinoa (containing carbohydrates and a complete protein), basmati rice, brown rice, bulgur wheat and other whole grains will provide starchy carbohydrates and fibre, as well as multitude of essential vitamins and minerals.
Include some protein at each meal (no,that doesn’t mean eating meat at each meal) such as chia seeds, quinoa(other than soy the only other complete protein of non-animal origin), beans and lentils, fish, eggs, some poultry and lean (trying to keep the quantities of the latter to not more than 0.8 per kg of your current weight per day). Eat at least two portions of fish a week. One of these should be an oily fish, such as salmon.
Foods rich in folate such as asparagus, cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and bok choi, citrus fruit, papaya, avocado, okra and pulses and non-starchy root vegetables.
Following these guidelines and keeping at a healthy weight will help to keep your sperm healthy by ensuring you get a good range of nutrients.
Which nutrients might improve male fertility?
Some vitamins and minerals may play a part in helping you to conceive a child. We will now look at the exact role of each nutrient.
Zinc plays an important role in fertility. Studies on men with fertility issues have suggested that getting enough zinc increases sperm count and improves sperm mobility.
Food sources of zinc include spinach, garlic, kidney and lima beans, pumpkin seeds, flax seed, watermelon seeds, oysters, shrimp and beef.
Selenium is vital for healthy sperm.Many studies have measured the effects of selenium taken alongside other supplements. In one study, selenium taken in combination with vitamin E improved sperm motility and morphology resulting in an increased number of pregnancies. So, it's possible that selenium has the best effect as part of a balanced, varied diet.
Food sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, shitake and white button mushrooms, lima and pinto beans, brown rice, yellowfin tuna, halibut and sardines , beef, turkey and eggs.
Vitamin D is also essential in improving sperm motility). In one large study of infertile men, those with vitamin D deficiency had lower sperm motility than those who were getting the recommended amount of vitamin D.
Our bodies synthesize vitamin D in response to sunlight and the best time to soak up the health benefits of the sun are the early hours of the day. We can also get it through eating foods rich in vitamin D. Good sources include cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel sardines, egg yolks.
Folic acid is important, as you probably already know, for your partner to get from folate rich foods as well as in the form of a supplement when trying to conceive as well as throughout pregnancy. But there's also a small amount of evidence that this important nutrient may play a role in healthy sperm. However, more research is needed to be sure of the fertility effects on men. And while there might be no need for you to take a folic acid supplement, it won’t harm to get plenty of it in your diet.
Folic acid is also known as vitamin B9, and the natural form in foods is called folate. Folate-rich foods include green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and sprouts. Folate can also be found in pulses, potatoes and oranges.So, a jacket potato with baked beans or homemade spinach dal is a good way of incorporating folate into your diet.
Coenzyme Q10 a vitamin-like compound, has shown in some studies to improves the quality of sperm. This is probably linked to its antioxidant properties.
Good food sources of coenzyme Q10 include fatty fish such as herring and rainbow trout, pistachios and peanuts, broccoli cauliflower and spinach, oranges and strawberries.
Antioxidants are nutrients that protect the cells of the body from free radical oxidative damage. There's some evidence to suggest that getting enough antioxidants may help to protect the quality of your sperm.
Antioxidant vitamins include vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A. Eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables will give you plenty of antioxidants.
If you and your partner are struggling to conceive make sure to increase your intake of foods rich in anti-oxidants such as; goji berries, blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, strawberries and cherries, apples, cacao beans or dark chocolate, small red and red kidney beans, pinto beans, artichokes, pecan nuts and cilantro
It is always best to get all the vitamins and minerals you need through diet, rather than by taking supplements.
Aim for the most varied diet possible, with a wide variety of different fruit and vegetable to ensure you are getting all the needed nutrients. Our article on how to eat more fruit and veg might help.
What about caffeine?
There’s no strong evidence that suggests that caffeine can harm your fertility as a dad-to-be. However, bear in mind that a lot of artificially caffeinated drinks, such as soft drinks and energy drinks, are also laden with contain sugar, preservatives, colorants and other potentially harmful additives. Therefore, if you're trying to a healthier you and get into shape for having a baby, it may be worth doing away with these drinks.
What about alcohol?
Heavy drinking is bad for your sperm, and may make it harder to conceive. So, if you drink a lot, it’s best to cut back if you want to improve your baby-making chances. There's no evidence to suggest that this kind of moderate alcohol consumption will affect your fertility, but it’s very easy to underestimate how much you’re drinking. As a rough guide for moderate, occasional consumption of alcohol a unit or two of alcohol one or twice a week is unlikely to affect your fertility.
It takes about 3 months for you to produce new sperm. Any lifestyle changes you make now should have a positive effect on your fertility just a few short months later. If you can commit to a few months of clean living and healthy eating, you’ll be in top shape to father a child.
What about weight?
Healthy weight is important for healthy sperm. Being overweight (with a BMI over 25) can make it harder to conceive. This effect is even greater if you're obese (with a BMI of 30 or higher).
The good news is that losing weight is likely to improve the quality of your sperm. It will also reduce your risk of health issues associated with erectile dysfunction, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
Getting to a healthy weight will also make it easier to run around after your little one when you do have a baby! These are just some of the great reasons to get into shape before trying to conceive. Losing weight is easier said than done- you might say. Nothing worth doing is easy! You might find that implementing nutritional and lifestyle changes as well as creating new healthier habits can be challenging at times, The Health Coach encourages you to accept that challenge and come out feeling like a winner - to experience the pride in yourself and your achievement. Should you feel that you need some help in that regard, please do not hesitate to contact us, we would be glad to guide you along your path to success.
If you would like to learn more about health promoting diet and life style we invite you to book a Nutrition and Health Consultation with The Health Coach academy team or join our Pregnancy Programs or Health Coaching Programs.
Results may individually vary. Information and statements made in articles of The Health Coach Blog are for education purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. The Health Coach does not provide medical advice, prescribe medication and treatment plans, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by The Health Coach are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. Should you have a medical condition or health concern, consult your physician.