Eating a healthy diet is associated with improved fertility in men, researchers in Spain concluded after conducting a review of the medical literature. Infertility affects 15% of all reproductive age couples. Male problems, such as poor semen quality, are to blame for about 25% of these cases.
Many fertility clinics recommend that couples trying to conceive change their lifestyles such as increasing exercise, participating in cognitive behavioral therapy or yoga to lower stress, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine intake. Couples visiting these clinics are also given dietary recommendations. This review indicates that these dietary recommendations may go a long way to improve the couples’ success rate.
The review included 35 studies that investigated the connection between diet, food, and nutrient intake and sperm quality and male fertility.
According to the results, higher sperm quality is associated with healthy diets similar to the Mediterranean diet rich in certain nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, cryptoxanthin, and lycopene as well as vitamin D and folate.
Low saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids were also beneficial to sperm health. In addition, fish, shellfish, seafood, poultry, cereals, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy and skimmed milk were associated with higher sperm quality.
On the other hand, diets including a lot of processed meat, soy foods, potatoes, full-fat dairy and total dairy products, cheese, coffee, alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages, and sweets were linked to lower-quality sperm in some studies. Women whose male partners had too high of an intake of alcohol and caffeine and ate too much red meat and processed meat were less likely to become pregnant. In addition, men eating unhealthy diets had lower fertilization rates of their partners.
According to the researchers, their review has provided a comprehensive overview of existing high-quality research into the effect of diet and nutrients on pregnancy rates and male fertility. This will allow for safer and more effective dietary recommendations in the future.
Source: Albert Salas-Huetos, Mònica Bulló, Jordi Salas-Salvadó. Dietary patterns, foods and nutrients in male fertility parameters and fecundability: a systematic review of observational studies. Hum Reprod Update 2017 1-19. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmx006