Mediterranean Diet May Boost Sperm Quality

Spanish researchers find the benefits of the Mediterranean diet extend to male reproductive health.

Apr. 6, 2017
By Mary West

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Experts esti­mate that 25 per­cent of infer­til­ity is due to dis­or­ders of the male repro­duc­tive sys­tem. A new study may help cou­ples try­ing to con­ceive, as it found adher­ence to the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) improves sperm qual­ity. The dis­cov­ery reveals one more advan­tage for fol­low­ing what is widely believed to be the world’s health­i­est diet.

It’s pretty sim­ple. Nutritionally-dense food is bet­ter for any body func­tion than nutri­tion­ally-devoid food.- Philip Werthman, Urologist

Infertility afflicts 15 per­cent of cou­ples around the world. The con­di­tion can often be treated suc­cess­fully with med­ica­tions or surgery. When stan­dard mea­sures fail, other pro­ce­dures are avail­able, but some can be extremely costly and are not cov­ered by health insur­ance. It’s good to be aware of a free inter­ven­tion that can help with­out the risk of side effects. 

Scientists at the Universitat Rovira I Virgili and the Pere i Virgili Health Research Institute in Spain under­took a sys­tem­atic review of obser­va­tional stud­ies that per­tained to the effect diet and nutri­tion have on male fer­til­ity. They found low sperm qual­ity is inversely related to diets that are high in health­ful nutri­ents and low in sat­u­rated fat and trans fat. Nutrients deter­mined to be of par­tic­u­lar impor­tance included omega‑3 fatty acids, vit­a­min D, folate and antiox­i­dants such as vit­a­min C, vit­a­min E, beta-carotene, sele­nium, zinc, lycopene and cryp­tox­an­thin. The MedDiet is rich in all of these dietary constituents. 

Analysis of the data showed spe­cific foods were linked to high qual­ity as well as low-qual­ity semen. Fish, poul­try, whole grains, fruits and veg­eta­bles were asso­ci­ated with sev­eral para­me­ters that were indica­tive of high-qual­ity sperm; while processed meat, pota­toes, soy prod­ucts, cheese, sweets, sug­ary bev­er­ages, alco­hol and cof­fee were con­nected to low-qual­ity sperm. Moreover, a sub­stan­tial intake of red meat, processed meat, caf­feine and alco­hol had a neg­a­tive effect on fer­til­iza­tion rates. As the Mediterranean diet is largely com­prised of whole grains, fruits, veg­eta­bles, fish and olive oil, it was the log­i­cal rec­om­men­da­tion for cou­ples who desire to have a child. 

The find­ings come as no sur­prise to Philip Werthman, urol­o­gist and direc­tor of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Vasectomy Reversal in Los Angeles, CA. In an inter­view with Olive Oil Times, he said, The study pro­vides evi­dence of some­thing I’ve known for two decades — what comes into your body affects what comes out of your body. It’s pretty sim­ple. Nutritionally-dense food is bet­ter for any body func­tion than nutri­tion­ally-devoid food.” 

Furthermore, processed meat con­tains hor­mones that can affect fer­til­ity,” Werthman added. Another ben­e­fit of the MedDiet is that it min­i­mizes the risk of obe­sity, a prob­lem that impairs both male and female repro­duc­tive health.” 

The researchers said the review pro­vided a thor­ough exam­i­na­tion of stud­ies deal­ing with male fer­til­ity and diet, which can lead to food con­sump­tion advi­sories in the future. They con­cluded that men’s adher­ence to a healthy eat­ing plan, such as the MedDiet, could have a sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence on the abil­ity of their part­ner to con­ceive. The study was pub­lished in the jour­nal Human Reproduction Update.



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