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Nutrition to boost male fertility

As couples begin their journey toward pregnancy, they may consider making healthy changes to their lifestyle. Many are aware that a nutritious diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are keys to preparing the body for reproduction. However, after a year of trying without becoming pregnant, women may start to wonder what else can increase their chances of conception, and may be the first to seek help from their medical team. Unfortunately it is less often that men ask the same questions.

If you’re looking to boost male fertility, consider these diet changes

According to the CDC, a combination of both the male and female health factors represent about 35% of infertility for couples, and yet only 9% of males seek medical advice for infertility. Considering that it takes both partners to make a baby, male lifestyle and diet also play a role in TTC. The good news is that men can take some control over their reproductive health by making simple changes to daily habits.

Maintaining a healthy weight is one way to improve fertility for men (and women). Obesity and being overweight are well known factors leading to male infertility, as they could lead to lower testosterone levels and reduced semen quality. According to one study, the chances of infertility increase by 10% for every 20 pounds a man is overweight! Following a healthy eating plan and getting regular exercise to help manage weight can be a first step towards improving a couple’s chances of getting pregnant.

But not all men struggling with infertility are overweight. Even those at a healthy weight can practice unhealthy behaviors. For instance, smoking, drug use, and excessive alcohol intake can negatively affect chances of conception. Men at a normal BMI that do not eat a well-balanced diet may not reap the benefits that good nutrition could have on their fertility.

Add more produce to the mix

So what is a fertility-friendly meal plan for men? Begin by eating more fresh produce! This can easily be done by getting at least one serving at each meal and snack, or filling half the plate with fruits or vegetables. Focus on the most colorful veggies, which are packed with antioxidants like Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and beta carotene. Also, enjoy fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, and mackerel on a regular basis. They are high in DHA, a fatty acid that is found in sperm. Other healthy foods to focus on are chicken, low-fat dairy (specifically milk), and whole grains.

Reduce consumption of processed meats

Some research has shown certain foods have a negative effect on fertility in men. These include processed meats (like hot dogs, deli meats, bacon, and canned meats), sweets, fatty foods (especially trans-fats and saturated fats), and other highly processed foods. Replacing these with healthier options may increase sperm motility and quality.

Although the research around male fertility and diet is limited, following a healthy eating pattern and managing weight is a solid recommendation – not only to benefit conception, but the overall health for the father-to-be. Men play an important role in baby-making, so discuss ways you can help make changes and support each other in your journey towards starting a family.

About the author: Jennifer is a dietitian passionate about connecting good nutrition with tasty food. She runs a private practice, Nourish for Life, where she works with new moms and parents of young children to help them eat well and have a healthy relationship with food. She is a mom of one tiny human and two fur-babies, and loves creating yummy new recipes in her free time.

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  • Katib, A. “Mechanisms linking obesity to make infertility.” Cent European J Urol. 2015; 68(1): 79–85. Retrieved September 19 2017.
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  • “Infertility FAQs.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 30 2017. Retrieved June 7 2017.
  • “Less processed meat, more fish and exercise may boost sperm count, quality.” Harvard School of Public Health. The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Retrieved September 19 2017.

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