Know the five foods that decrease or kills sperm health.
Few people know that the average man’s sperm count has dropped steadily over the past 40 ye ars Thisfact should scare everyone, especially men. However, sperm health is the last thing on the minds of most men. How nutrition impacts sperm is even farther away from our collective consciousness
1. Processed meats
This is not surprising—recent studies link processed meats to all sorts of illnesses. Processed meats include hot dogs, salami, beef jerky, bacon, etc. I get it; they’re delicious. In the case of sperm, several studies connect eating processed red meat will decrease sperm counts and altered sperm motility.
2. Soy products
Soy products contain phytoestrogens—estrogen-like compounds that come from plants. A study of 99 men from fertility clinics in Boston concluded that excessive soy intake might decrease sperm concentration.
3. Pesticides and bisphenol a (BPA)
Honestly, these are probably the scariest on the list because they are not foods, but they still end up in what we eat. Plus, they’re everywhere. Obviously, pesticides end up on vegetables and fruits. They also end up in meat and fish due to tainted water supplies. BPA is no better—it’s in most food packaging and cans. It slowly leeches into the foods we eat. Both BPA and chemicals within pesticides act as xenoestrogens—chemicals that mimic estrogen. Just like the phytoestrogens in soy, xenoestrogens can wreak havoc on sperm concentration. On a side note, some of the same chemicals in pesticides can come from non-stick cookware.
4.High fat dairy product
Milk may “do a body good,” if you don’t include sperm as part of the body. The Rochester Young Men’s Study, an analysis of sperm and diet from 189 men between the ages of 18-22, showed that high-fat dairy products (whole milk, cream and cheese) were associated with decreased sperm motility and abnormal sperm shape. Some of this could be due to sex steroids given to cows.
Researchers are primarily concerned about trans fats increasing the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, the concerns don’t stop there. A 2011 Spanish study linked the increased intake of trans fats with decreased sperm counts.
Three foods that may improve sperm health
One small study associated higher amounts of fish consumption with better sperm motility. Other studies were inconclusive. The benefits associated with fish for sperm health are likely due to their high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, but the role of fish in sperm health is unclear overall. Eating fish probably helps if it is an alternative to red and/or processed meats.
2. Fruits and veggies
A study of 250 men who had sperm analyzed at a fertility clinic showed that men who ate higher amounts of fruits and veggies, particularly green leafy vegetables and beans (legumes), had higher sperm concentrations and better sperm motility compared to men who ate less of these foods. This is not surprising since plant-based whole foods are high in anti-oxidants such as co-enzyme Q10, vitamin C, and lycopene. These micronutrients have been linked to higher sperm concentrations. Several studies have shown that co-enzyme q supplements may have a positive impact on sperm health, but ultimately we need more studies to make definitive recommendations.
In 2012, in a small study, researchers assigned 117 men ages 21 to 35 to eat or not eat approximately 18 walnuts daily for 12 weeks. The researchers analyzed sperm parameters before and after the study period. They found significant improvements in sperm vitality only in the nut group.
What’s the bottom line for improving sperm health?
Eat your veggies. Try organic veggies or at least make sure you wash your veggies thoroughly. If you don’t want to spend all of your money on organic vegetables, check out the environmental working group’s dirty dozen for the worst offenders.
Cut back on processed meat; try fish instead.
Be careful with trans fats (eat less fried junk food).
Watch out for BPA in canned goods. Look for BPA-free cans. Try to avoid plastics where possible.
Don’t overindulge in high-fat dairy items (ice cream, whole milk, etc.).
Don’t smoke cigarettes.
Eat walnuts (if you don’t have a nut allergy of course).
Lose weight if you are overweight.