This guide was authored by male fertility supplements provider, Fertility Family.
There are a number of different nutrients you can get in your diet which can help different aspects of your sperm health including motility, morphology/DNA quality, and sperm count. All these factors contribute to your overall fertility and chances of conceiving.
Unfortunately, there are factors affecting male fertility that cannot be helped by lifestyle and diet changes and will require help from medical professionals. Therefore, if you have been trying to conceive for a while without success, we advise you to take a sperm test. Although sperm tests are limited in their scope – DNA fragmentation is not measured in standard sperm tests – they will help diagnose any more serious conditions like azoospermia (absence of motile sperm in the semen).
As well as there being foods you should look to include more of in your diet, there are some which you should cut down on or even avoid completely. In this article we run through what foods to have and the benefits as well as touch on options for the veggies among you.
Nuts are good for your nuts!
Introducing more nuts to your diet has been shown to help with male fertility. A study carried out in 2012 concluded that “75 g of walnuts per day improved sperm vitality, motility, and morphology (normal forms) in a group of healthy, young men eating a Western-style diet.” This is because nuts are a great source of micronutrients important for sperm development and function, full of natural antioxidants and essential fatty acids (EFAs). Some of the most consumed nuts are almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. But at the end of the day, remember that ALL nuts are good for fertility, so experiment incorporating them into your meals and try different nuts on different days. Nuts are high in calories so try to avoid overeating, aim for around 30 grams of nuts each day (roughly a handful). Raw or roasted nuts provide similar health benefits however roasted nuts may damage the healthy fats within so best to consume raw to get the maximum benefit and where possible avoid added salt.
Spinach and other leafy greens
Introducing more leafy greens to your diet is recommended because they are rich in folate. Folate is a key micronutrient in DNA synthesis and can help to improve the quality of your sperm. Broccoli, brussel sprouts and peas are all also good sources of folate you can easily include in your diet.
While processed meats can be bad for your fertility (more on this later) lean cuts of meat can be beneficial. This is because meat, particularly red meat, is an excellent source of zinc. Studies have concluded that “poor zinc nutrition may be an important risk factor for low quality of sperm and idiopathic male infertility”.
Fertile men’s sperm are made up of a higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. These (EFAs) help to increase blood flow and enhance sperm quality. The best source of omega-3 fatty acids come from oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines. Or for those veggies… chia, hemp and / or flaxseed, walnuts, edamame or kidney beans, soya bean oil, seaweed and / or algae. For those of you who cannot access these food supplements are a good idea.
Male Fertility Supplements
Taking supplements that are evidence-based is important. Many supplements on the market lack any clinical evidence and promote the use of strong antioxidants to improve fertility. However, the latest review on antioxidants for male subfertility showed no significant improvement on pregnancy rates or live birth rates.
Impryl is different to standard male fertility supplements on the market. Impryl contains a unique combination of activated micronutrients, including zinc and folate, which have been carefully selected in order to provide optimal support for sperm development without causing any harm. Studies have shown that the micronutrients in Impryl do not only improve sperm quality but also improve pregnancy and live birth outcomes in sub-fertile men. We recommend taking Impryl daily for a minimum of three months before trying to conceive or undergoing Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) such as IVF to help boost sperm quality.
Things to cut down on / avoid.
Multiple studies have shown that eating too much processed meat and food high in fat and sugar is associated with reduced sperm counts and decreased motility. For many, this can be a complete change in lifestyle as processed red meats can make up a large portion of your diet as well as takeaways and high calorie snacks. In which case we would recommend replacing your meats with chicken or turkey mince where possible. Regarding highly processed foods like sugary snacks and drinks – try your best to avoid these completely, clear the house of all temptations and introduce more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Swap takeaways with fakeaways, this is a great way to spend more time in the kitchen as a couple cooking together.
Several studies show that consistently drinking every day or even binge drinking every so often can have negative effects on sperm. Drinking alcohol can lower the level of key hormones which are vital for sperm production, resulting in a decreased sperm count. Try to find good alternatives to your usual tipple – virgin cocktails and non-alcoholic beers are two good options that might not hit the spot in the same way but will help your body to produce healthier sperm.
Studies suggest that caffeine intake could be associated with double-strand DNA breaks (DNA Fragmentation). Caffeine is also associated with sperm aneuploidy, the presence of an abnormal number of chromosomes in a cell which can result in either no conception or miscarriage. While these studies are not comprehensive, we advise that you look to cut down to one tea or coffee a day and look to have decaf if you want more than that.
Following a balanced diet while introducing more healthy options and avoiding those unhealthy ones is likely to help you lose weight. There is a strong correlation between being overweight (BMI>25) and unhealthy sperm so losing weight can be beneficial if your BMI is above that threshold. Getting some exercise regularly (at least 3 times a week) alongside improving your diet will help you get towards being at a healthy weight and therefore improve the quality of your sperm.
These changes are not guaranteed to bring success and we do advise you to have a sperm test if you have been trying to conceive for 6-12 months without success. However, making these changes to your lifestyle will give you a better chance of producing healthy sperm and therefore the best chance of a successful conception.