What can the boys do to play a helpful part in the baby-making process? Here’s how their eating choices are linked to male fertility.
As we all know, it takes two to tango and make a baby. Both an egg and sperm are needed to create a new life. And just like food choices can affect a woman’s fertility, nutrition can affect men’s fertility, too.
Considered by many as an early sign of cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction impacts an estimated 30 million men. Most men who experience erectile dysfunction are over 60 years old, but it can and does affect younger men as well.
Because an erection happens when the teeny tiny capillaries in the penis fill with blood, any damage to these delicate vessels can make it difficult to get and sustain an erection. The same eating habits that lead to blocked and damaged arteries and veins running throughout the body, can clog and damage the capillaries in a man’s penis.
And the same nutritious foods that are beneficial for the arteries and veins, apply to the capillaries too.
Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, poultry, legumes, and fish, while limiting red meat, has a protective effect, seemingly reducing the risk of developing erectile dysfunction. In some cases, it may even reverse it. A shining example of an eating pattern that fits the bill is the Mediterranean Lifestyle.
Nuts, a heart-healthy snack of choice for many, can also play a role in keeping the blood flowing to all the right places. One small study looked at the effect of eating 100 grams (roughly 3.5 oz, 4/5 of a cup, or 143 kernels) of pistachios a day for three weeks on the erectile function of 17 middle aged men. The men, overall, saw an improvement in erectile function, sexual satisfaction, and their cholesterol levels. Just a few more reasons to snack on a handful of nuts!
So how does nutrition affect semen quality?
Remember, sperm have a tough job. They travel a great distance to deliver important genetic material to the egg. Both the quality of the DNA and RNA and the sperm’s ability to successfully swim through the foreign environment of a woman’s reproductive system, are affected by different lifestyle factors, including nutrition.
Once again, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is one of the best choices to make for improved reproductive and general health. The semen of men who eat a substantial amount of fruit and vegetables, have more progressively motile sperm. That means a higher portion of sperm in their semen will travel further, rather than swimming aimlessly or gyrating without making much progress. Progressively motile sperm are more likely to make it to the ready-to-be-fertilized egg than ones without much direction.
On another note, the results of one study suggests eating large amounts of fruit and vegetables with pesticides may negatively impact semen quality. For this reason, consider choosing organically grown varieties of the Dirty Dozen, the fruit and vegetables with the highest pesticide residue when conventionally grown, whenever possible. In addition to eating ample amounts of fruit and veggies, limiting trans fats is another important factor in keeping semen and sperm quality high.
So how do we put all of this information to good use?
- Before you put anything else on the plate, first fill half of it with vegetables at lunch or dinner.
- Add fruit and nuts to the morning’s hot or cold cereal. Any fresh, frozen, and no sugar added dry fruit will work.
- Munch on pistachios as a snack.
- Adopt a Mediterranean lifestyle for an eating pattern that is as tasty as it is healthy.
Now you’re armed with the motivation and information to encourage the men in your life to make healthier eating choices; ones that will help them stay healthy, stave off erectile dysfunction,
And keep their swimmers strong.
Adapted from the original article.
Kendra Tolbert, MS, RDN, CDN, CLC is a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified lactation counselor, and certified aromatherapist based in New York. Through her private practice, she helps women and couples prepare for pregnancy and enjoy healthier, happier pregnancies. Learn more about Kendra at Live Fertile.