In case you haven’t heard, we have a fertility crisis on our hands. Sperm counts in western men are now half of what they were forty years ago. Unfortunately, scientists haven’t yet pinned down a definitive cause for the crisis; but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing men can do to protect or increase their fertility.
Much of our health depends on our diets, and our reproductive systems are no exception. Here are some dietary changes that men can make to increase their fertility:
This study found that men who consumed more alcohol tended to have lower sperm concentrations and lower sperm motility. The fertilization rates of their sperm were also lower. More research is needed on the possible connection between alcohol consumption and fertility, but there is certainly no health detriment to giving up alcohol.
Eat less meat
Multiple studies find a link between higher meat intake and lower fertility in men. The above study, for example, also found that red meat consumption decreased a man’s chances of impregnating his partner. This study reached a similar conclusion about meat as well as dairy products.
Moreover, the mechanism in meat that causes reduced fertility may be saturated fat. This study found that higher intake of saturated fat was associated with lower sperm count and quality. Another culprit could be xenoestrogens, man-made chemicals like PCBs that build up in the fatty tissue of livestock and fish. This study found that infertile men had much higher levels of xenoestrogens in their bodies, and xenoestrogen levels were much higher in men who ate fish than in vegetarians.
The link between male infertility and meat and fish consumption is complex, and more research is needed to fully understand it. But the data available now suggests lower consumption of animal foods is healthier for the male reproductive system.
Eat more walnuts
The same study that found eating more saturated fat was associated with lower fertility also found that eating more omega-3 fats was associated with increased fertility in men. Maybe that’s why this study found men who added a daily serving of walnuts to their diet saw an increase in sperm vitality, motility and morphology. Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fats.
Eat more zinc and folic acid
Studies have shown that zinc supplements can significantly increase semen volume as well as sperm quality in infertile males. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of zinc, and pumpkin seed oil supplies zinc in higher concentrations.
One study also found that a combination of zinc and folic acid increased sperm count by 74 percent in subfertile men. So it may be best to get a source of zinc as well as a source of folic acid (like spinach or lentils) into your diet.
Eat more vitamin C
Way back in 1979, researchers tried giving vitamin C to infertile men with fertile wives to see if it could help them conceive. The results were astounding. After trying and failing to get pregnant for 2 years, all 20 men who got the vitamin C treatment got their wives pregnant within two months. None of the men in the control group got their wives pregnant in that time.
The study was small, so it’s not definitive proof that vitamin C cures infertility. But because you can easily get 1,000 mg of vitamin C (the daily amount in the study) from three yellow bell peppers, it can’t hurt try this remedy.
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