A guide to which foods improve (and hinder) sperm production
If you're struggling to conceive, your sperm quality and count might be a factor. Here's how diet affects sperm quality and what you should eat and avoid.
Singapore’s birth rate has been steadily declining over the past two decades and is at its lowest for the past seven years. While rising costs of raising children are one of the reasons why people aren’t having kids, fertility issues are an ongoing issue. Specifically, a man’s sperm quality could be the reason why you’re not conceiving.
A lot of things can affect your sperm quality like genetics or stress. One thing you can control is your diet.
Besides the benefits of helping you to lose weight and improve your energy levels, what you eat has a significant impact on improving how much sperm you produce, as well as quality.
While taking supplements like Coenzyme Q10 or doing more exercise can improve male fertility, there has been recent evidence that shows your diet plays an important role in keeping your sperm healthy.
So how exactly does diet affect sperm quality?
How does diet affect sperm quality and which diets are best?
It’s been found that when men have more sperm when they have healthy hearts.
A recent study by Ana Cutillas-Tolín and her cohort found that men who ate according to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet had a higher sperm count and better semen quality compared to men who didn’t follow the DASH eating plan.
The DASH diet focuses on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. There aren’t specific items you should eat, but focuses on the number of servings you have for different categories. These include lean meat (like chicken or fish), nuts and legumes, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.
The DASH diet is found to help lower hypertension and blood pressure because of the lower salt intake. A Mediterranean-style diet will also provide the same benefits.
While there aren’t any specific foods listed that you shouldn’t eat as part of the above diets, there are foods that are detrimental towards sperm count and quality.
What should you stop eating to improve sperm quality?
Eating certain things can really impact your ability to conceive. If you aren’t conscientious about what you eat, then you will find your sperm count and quality to be lower than usual.
Alcohol lowers testosterone levels which affect sperm production. Another reason to cut back on the booze is weight management.
Avoid drinking canned drinks or eating a lot of sweets or chips as high sugar content can lead to obesity. Being overweight causes hormone levels to change and impact male fertility.
Organ meats contain a lot of cadmium, a mineral which is found to kill sperm cells. Hold off from eating too much kueh chap or dishes where innards are plentiful.
Soy-based food has been found to lower sperm count. Although the exact reason why isn’t clear, studies indicate that it’s because of higher estrogen, which affects hormonal balance.
Fruits and vegetables with pesticides contain bisphenol a (BPA). Similar to soy-based products, this mimics estrogen.
It’s worth noting that men with low sperm count are at risk of various health diseases. A study found that men with less sperm were at increased risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart diseases.
“Infertile men are likely to have important coexisting health problems or risk factors that can impair quality of life and shorten their lives,” explained the lead investigator Dr. Alberto Ferlin.
These results imply male fertility plays an important role in your holistic health!
So now you’re familiar with the foods you should cut down on, what should eat more of to have better sperm quality?
Foods you should include more of in your diet
What you eat is one of the easiest things to control. Eating the right things can do wonders for your sperm quality, just as much as a bad diet can negatively impact your sperm production.
Look to include more of these foods for improved male fertility and better health overall.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In particular, you’ll find docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is plentiful amongst omega-3 compounds.
This fatty acid helps sperm viability.
In other words, it turns sperm from immature cells into more streamlined shape with a long tail that’s effective for swimming!
Time to start eating more sushi!
Whole grains are commonly found in bread, brown rice, and oatmeal.
They’re rich in vitamin B-12 and antioxidants, which are essential to maintaining healthy levels of sperm.
They also contain a lot of fibre which removes excess estrogen.
Switch out your bread loaves for whole-grain varieties. Consider including more quinoa and sweetcorn in your diet as well.
Dark chocolate is great for your heart health because it’s rich in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant often found in fruits and veggies.
Additionally, it contains L-arginine, an amino acid that boosts sperm count.
As with all things good and tasty, eat in moderation!
Lean beef and pork contain zinc which improves sperm quality.
Studies show that lower zinc levels are linked to lower male fertility.
Include enough protein in your diet to keep your sperm levels up.
Dark, Leafy Greens
Folate is another B vitamin that’s linked to sperm production.
Research indicates that low folate is linked to damaged sperm cells.
Eat more salad with leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, swiss chard, and arugula.
Don’t let what you eat get in the way of planning for a family!
Have any thoughts on how does diet affect sperm quality? Let us know below!