If you’re trying to get pregnant, mom’s not the only one who needs to watch what she’s eating. Male infertility contributes to 50 percent of all infertility cases, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Luckily, there are a few things you can do about it.
1. Eat Organic Produce
Studies have shown that men who eat conventional fruits and veggies not only have lower sperm counts, but they have lower-quality swimmers, too. One 2015 Harvard study of 155 men showed that those who ate foods that were likely to be contaminated with pesticides had “a lower total sperm count and a lower percentage of morphologically normal sperm.” Men exposed to the highest levels of residues had almost 50 percent fewer sperm and a 32 percent lower percentage of normal sperm than those who consumed the least amount of pesticides.
Jorge E. Chavarro, MD, assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and coauthor of the study noted in his conclusion that choosing either organically grown fruits and vegetables or choosing “fruits and vegetables that are known to have low pesticides” – like those on EWG’s Clean Fifteen List – was the logical conclusion.
2. Avoid Endocrine Disruptors
But just eating organic isn’t enough to improve sperm health. In 2008, John Aiken, head of biological sciences at Australia’s University of Newcastle, presented evidence that up to 85 percent of sperm produced by healthy males today is DNA-damaged, something that he noted was “very unusual” as compared to other mammals.
While it might be unusual, it’s not surprising: we’re all exposed to far more endocrine disruptors than we have been in the past, and several studies, including one 2014 paper in Frontiers in Public Health, showed that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals can have devastating effects on the male reproductive system.
Common endocrine disruptors include phthalates, found in flexible plastics; BPA, found in food cans and plastic bottles; and poly-fluorinated chemicals, commonly used to make non-stick pans.
3. Choose the Right Nutrients
Choosing organic produce isn’t the only way that a dad-to-be can improve his diet and boost healthy sperm production, according to holistic healthcare practitioner Hethir Rodriguez.
“Nutrients such as zinc, selenium and vitamin C (plus many others) have been shown to help increase sperm health, motility and mobility,” she says.
To take full advantage of this, she recommends increasing consumption of grass-fed beef, lamb, venison, sesame seeds, green peas, beans, leafy greens, and colorful fruits and vegetables (organic, of course!).
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