Best Dietary Habits for Optimal Sperm Health
Male Fertility is defined by many parameters, however, 3 of the most important factors are Sperm Concentration (amount of sperm cells per mL of seminal fluid), Motility (the percentage of sperm cells that show good movement), and Morphology (the percentage of sperm cells that show healthy physical characteristics). When any one of these 3 parameters is low, then Male Fertility can become compromised.
Curiously, there is an observation that Sperm Concentration has decreased by up to 60% in Men when compared from 1973 to 2011. In the last 3 decades we have seen an alarming and worrisome trend in Men from North America, Europe, and countries from other continents as well. The question is, why? Researchers believe that this is a result of changes in our lifestyle, environmental, and dietary/nutritional habits. However, when a couple is suffering from Infertility and the fatigue of doing multiple IVFs or ICSI (intracytoplasmic Injection) without any success, the question is why is there a lack of emphasis on lifestyle, dietary, and nutritional changes to help support healthy sperm production?
I believe the answer to this is the limited communication about the condition and even more limited communication about reliable educational information. This post is to help provide just that, evidence based advice to help make the right everyday decisions to help support optimal sperm health.
Which Nutrients are Helpful for Sperm Health?
The following supplements (according to the researchers in the published study - reference available below) have been found to be positively associated with reproductive health and outcomes: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folate, Zinc, Vitamin D, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
Which Nutrients have been found to have a negative outcome on Sperm Health?
The researchers in this study highlighted the following nutrients as potentially harmful: trans fats, saturated fats, and alcohol.
The researchers evaluated various different diets and how much they actually help to improve sperm concentration, sperm motility, and sperm morphology. Of the different diets evaluated, the one that demonstrated the biggest improvements in all 3 parameters was the Alternative Healthy Eating Index.
What is the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI)?
The AHEI was developed at Harvard and it provides the following simple guidelines on how to balance your meals and keep them healthy:
Fruits and Vegetables (1/2 of your Plate should be fruits and veggies): aiming for a combination of different colours and varieties. And please note, potatoes do not count as a vegetable in the AHEI.
Whole Grains (1/4 of your Plate should be whole grains): this can be whole wheat, quinoa, brown rice. Avoiding white flour, white rice, and other refined sugars and grains because of their negative impact on blood sugar levels.
Protein (1/4 of your plate should be healthy sources of protein): the AHEI recommends choosing fish, chicken, beans and nuts as your sources of protein. There are plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans to meet this requirement using legumes and healthy nuts. There should be no consumption of processed meats and red meats.
Oils: Choosing healthy vegetable sourced oils and avoiding trans fats.
Fluids: choose tea or water. Avoid sugary drinks.
Exercise: an important guideline from the AHEI is to continue to stay active!
Efrat, M., Stein, A., Pinkas, H., Unger, R., & Birk, R. (2018). Dietary patterns are positively associated with semen quality. Fertility and Sterility, 109(5), 809-816.