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Foods to improve your Fertility Diet

What is the ideal fertility diet?

There has been a lot of debate around the cause of the significant decline in semen quality. While genetics, endocrine system, obesity, age, and smoking are known risk factors for a decreased sperm quality [1], there is increasing evidence that nutrition and diet also play an important role in men’s fertility[2],[3].

Nutrition, diet and fertility links

In this article, we will look at the connections between nutrition, diet and fertility. The decrease in sperm concentration is pronounced in most Western countries [4] [5], which might have a connection with the fact that the average “Western-type” diet has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. 
Today’s diet typically consists of higher intake of calories, processed meat, added fat, snacks, and sweetened-sugar beverages. This diet can have a negative impact on semen parameters and overall health of the population. However, a number of studies indicate that a diet rich in fish/seafood, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grain foods, poultry, and nuts like walnuts may benefit sperm quality [6]

Advice from Dr. Fatin Willendrup, ExSeed Head of Medical Affairs

“Several scientific studies show that healthy dietary models clearly correlate with better sperm quality and a smaller risk of abnormalities in parameters such as sperm count, sperm concentration and motility, and lower sperm DNA fragmentation. What you put in your mouth really matters for general health and certainly also for your swimmer’s health”

Diets that negatively affect fertility?

It’s not easy to define what a “bad” diet is, because it involves many parameters. But the general one is a diet that fails to provide the body with the right amount and type of nutrients and doesn’t promote good health. Food is the primary source to cover our energy needs and repairing our body. However, overconsumption of food has led to an unprecedented increase in obesity rates in the last decades, causing metabolic disorders such as an abnormal function of the male reproductive system [7].
Another focus nowadays is the negative impact of certain foods on our health. The consumption of these foods relates to a series of health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This is in addition to the worsening of semen parameters, such as sperm concentration and motility.

Most dangerous foods for male fertility

Meat and dairy products high in saturated fat [8]: Animal products are the main source of saturated fat, which is a type of fatty acid (single bonded fatty acids) that is considered less healthy. Researchers from Denmark who monitored 701 young men found that sperm concentration and total sperm count were lower among men with a higher intake of saturated fat.
Soy and phytoestrogens: Phytoestrogen is a certain type of naturally occurring chemicals found in many fruits and vegetables. These chemicals are also called endocrine disruptors (see our blog on endocrine disruptors) because they can mimic the estrogens in our body and interfere with the production of the hormones that are normally responsible for reproduction [9].
Soybeans and soy products are the major sources of dietary phytoestrogens. The highest content is in soy flour, isolated soy protein, tofu, tempeh, and soy milk.
Sweetened beverages and snacks: Many products in supermarkets, like soft drinks and cereals, carry high amounts of sugar. Excessive consumption of these products can increase oxidative stress, which can negatively influence sperm motility. In a 2010 study where 2,554 Danish young men were recruited according to their diet choices, it was shown that a high intake of coke was associated with reduced sperm concentration and sperm count [10].

The ideal fertility diet

The Mediterranean diet has a high intake of vegetables, fruits, seafood, and healthy fats. It has plenty of well-established health benefits, such as strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects. It is also related to lower coronary heart disease incidences and higher life expectancy [11].
Now what……?
Selecting the right diet and nutrition for fertility benefits can be a big task. This because it involves many complex combinations of nutrients. However, diets like the Mediterranean diet, which are high in vital nutrients and fibers, seem to have a positive impact. They can lower the risk of health implications and show protective effects and improvements on male fertility.
Learn more about superfoods or micronutrients to boost your sperm quality and start your healthy routines today!

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Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.

Stress

Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.

Nutrition

Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Vegetables
Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.

Heat

Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.

BMI

There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  

Alcohol

A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.

Age

Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.