Thursday, October 23, 2014
5 Foods That May Hurt Male Fertility
New research suggests a poor diet can wreak havoc on more than a man’s pants size. (Photo by Getty Images)
Guys, you’ve heard the standard advice for protecting your swimmers: Don’t wear tight undies. Keep your laptop far from, well, your lap. Stop smoking ASAP. But there may be an even easier way to shield your sperm — watch what you eat. “We’ve noticed that fertility has been decreasing over the past several decades. And guys want advice to improve upon matters,” said Dr. Ryan Terlecki, director of the Men’s Health Clinic for the Wake Forest University Department of Urology. “Most guys have never even heard that anything in their diet could impact sperm count.”
But the truth is, an emerging body of research suggests that the foods you pile on your plate may play a role in the number of sperm you have (count), whether they’re normally shaped (morphology), and how well they move (motility).
How that does that play out in the bedroom? “Sperm count is, of course, important, because if it’s not there, you’re not going to [biologically] father a kid,” said Dr. Paul Turek, president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology. “And I think sperm motility is more important than sperm count.” Although morphology is less firmly linked to fertility, it has been shown in a number of studies to influence reproductive success, said Audrey Gaskins, who researches nutrition and fertility at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Although the research is still new, one thing is clear: The foods that may pose a threat to male fertility are many of the same dietary culprits behind things such as Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. That means you’d be smart to avoid them, regardless of whether you plan to make a baby any time soon.The following foods might get in the way of fatherhood:
Sure, meat is considered the ultimate man food — but if you eat the wrong kind, your sperm could be compromised. In a 2014 Harvard study, men who consumed the most processed meat — hamburgers, hot dogs, salami, bologna, bacon — had 23 percent fewer normal sperm than guys who ate it sparingly. In another 2014 study, published in the journal Epidemiology, the same researchers found that eating processed meat was associated with lower sperm count.
Interestingly, saturated fat intake — which has previously been blamed for poor sperm quality — wasn’t the nutritional connection. “We didn’t find a link with unprocessed red meat, so it seems to be something that happens in the processing that is detrimental to sperm quality,” Gaskins told Yahoo Health.
One possibility: Processed meats tend to house more hormonal residues than other meats, which could have potential reproductive consequences. “In the U.S., we allow more hormones to be administered to our cattle [than in the European Union],” she said. “So this is definitely one possible mechanism.”
Eat this instead: Want to boost your swimmers? Look to the sea: The same Harvard scientists found that men who eat lots of fish have, on average, a 51 percent higher sperm count than those who barely eat any. This link was strongest for dark meat fish, like salmon or tuna, although white meat fish, such as cod and halibut, had a positive effect, too.