Want stronger Sperm? Check your diet

We have forever recognized that we are what we eat, period. A healthy diet is generally a sign of good health. And although many do not believe it, a healthy diet, it is also good for our sperm.

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This issue was discussed at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. A few of the observation stems from a pair of studies slated for presentation, both of which highlight an apparent linkage between nutrition and semen quality.

The upshot: Diets rich in red meat and processed grains seem to impair the ability of sperm to move about, while diets high in trans fats appear to lower the amount of sperm found in semen.

“The main overall finding of our work is that a healthy diet seems to be beneficial for semen quality,” said Audrey J. Gaskins, lead author of the first study. Currently a doctoral candidate in Harvard School of Public Health’s department of nutrition in Boston, Gaskins’ colleagues included researchers from both the University of Rochester and the University of Murcia in Spain.

“Specifically, a healthy diet composed of a higher intake of fish, fresh fruit, whole grains, legumes and vegetables seems to improve sperm motility,” Gaskins explained, “which means a higher number of sperm move around, rather than sit still.”

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Gaskin’s conclusions are based on work with 188 men between the ages of 18 and 22, who were recruited in Rochester. Food questionnaires were completed, and participant diets were categorized as being either “Western” in content (including red meat, refined carbs, sweets and energy drinks) or so-called “Prudent” (composed of fish, fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains).

Semen tests were then conducted to assess sperm movement, concentration and shape.

On a similar front, a second study led by Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, revealed that men who eat diets that contain a relatively high amount of trans fat had lower sperm concentration levels. What’s more, the amount of trans fat found in their sperm and semen went up.

The conclusion was drawn from work with nearly 100 men, all of whom underwent a nutritional and semen quality analysis.

Even after adjusting for a wide array of factors such as age, drinking and smoking histories, BMI, caffeine intake and total calories consumed, the authors found that although trans-fat intake appeared to have no impact on sperm movement of shape, the more trans fatty acids consumed the lower an individual’s sperm concentration.

Dr. Edward Kim, from the University of Tennessee’s graduate school of medicine in Knoxville, reacted to both studies with enthusiasm and caution.

“I think that this research is certainly very suggestive that dietary factors may have an impact on male infertility,” said Kim, who also serves as president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology.

“And the studies point us in a direction that suggest that a healthy lifestyle may correlate with better quality sperm,” he added. “But clearly further research in this area is needed to come up with definitive conclusions.”

Because both studies were presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Want to ensure stronger swimmers, no matter your age?

Incorporate these three nutritional gold mines into your diet to keep your semen in tip-top shape. (And if you’re still hungry for more sex-savvy foods and secrets, pick up a copysexy blogs, food for your sperm, llv, llvclub of The Men’s Health Big Book of Sex for hundreds of ways to upgrade your sex life.)

Fatty Fish: Men who eat more omega-3 fatty acids have higher-quality semen than those who skimp on omega-3s, per a study in Human Reproduction. And even though the researchers say this may be merely a correlation, omega-3s are still loaded with other sex-boosting benefits. The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA found in fish help to raise dopamine levels in the brain that trigger arousal, per sexologist Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D. Your move? Add oily, cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna to your weekly meal lineup.

Walnuts: Eating just 75 grams of walnuts a day—roughly a handful—can improve the quality of your semen, says a study published in Biology of Reproduction. Researchers monitored the diets of 117 healthy men, asking half to incorporate 75 grams of walnuts into their diets. After 3 months, guys who ate walnuts saw an improvement in the shape of their sperm, as well as the movement and vitality of their swimmers. Why? Researchers believe the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) —a natural plant source of omega-3—in walnuts may be behind the sperm’s extra boost. (Walnuts aren’t the only convenient snack that will strengthen your sperm. Check out these 12 other Super Sex Foods.)

Oysters: Besides being the ultimate aphrodisiac, the zinc in oysters can work wonders for your semen. In a study in Fertility and Sterility, sub-fertile men who took zinc sulfates daily saw a 74 percent increase in total normal sperm count after 26 weeks, compared to men who were treated with placebos. Your move: Pop, six oysters a day to double the daily recommendation of 15 milligrams of zinc. Other good sources of zinc are shrimp, red meat, pumpkin seeds, poultry and pork, eggs, and dairy products.

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