For most species, becoming pregnant comes quite easily. Unfortunately for humans, it naturally takes more work for us to achieve pregnancy. Add to that, our 21st century ailments, and the rising rates of fertility challenges, and it can seem like a (much more) daunting task.
Men, your health is just as important in the fertility equation — and this post is dedicated to getting you on board!
Thankfully, there are some simple things we can all do to improve our diets and lifestyle and foster fertility! I’ve shared a few below, so you can begin to optimize your fertility!
Many of us have habits that can negatively negatively impact fertility, including:
- Taking very long showers with water that is much too hot
- Sitting in hot baths or hot tubs
- Keeping your cell phone in your pants pocket
- Using a laptop on your lap regularly
These are relatively simple changes to make… so it’s a great place to start!
Studied separately, men who consumed coffee, nicotine (cigarettes, vaping, patches or gum), or alcohol, showed poorer sperm motility and/or reduced chances of fertilization.
As a Nutritionist, I’m going to throw sugar into this category as well. Men who consume junk food (even young men!), have decreased fertility as a result of consuming excess sugar. Sperm from men who eat sugary foods were less likely to survive in the womb, making implantation much more difficult.
Foods To Avoid
Low quality or trans fats
Trans fats are known to significantly increase risk of heart disease, and now recently they’ve been linked to fertility challenges. Avoiding poor quality fats like vegetable oil, canola and refined soybean oil may also be beneficial.
Excess animal proteins
A diet high in animal protein can affect hormone levels. For men, excess animal proteins may contribute to high cholesterol levels, which in turn negatively affects sperm quality. Plus, estrogens found in dairy products, especially with high or excessive consumption, have been linked to fertility problems in both men and women.
Emerging science seems to implicate gluten-grains in increasing infertility, as well. A well-known doctor who began with a specialty in fertility, Dr. Tom O’Bryan, has said that for some people, one serving of gluten per month was enough to keep them in an inflammatory state, and therefore, infertile. There are so many healthful gluten-free options — it doesn’t hurt to go gluten-free!
Foods To Consume
Leafy greens are rich in folate, which lowers the risk of neural tube defects and some birth abnormalities. Folate is the most impactful for fetal development in the very early weeks of pregnancy – before many women know they are pregnant – so it’s paramount to optimize folate levels prior to pregnancy. Recent studies have shown that adequate folate levels in men improve sperm and semen quality, and even decreases the risk of miscarriage in their partners.
Pumpkin seeds are full of the mineral zinc. Zinc is plentiful in semen, and helps aid in male fertility. Of course, pumpkin seeds also offer healthy fats, great plant protein, and loads of other vitamins and minerals.
Intake of monounsaturated fat, present in olive oil, is associated with an increase in fertility. Olive oil also boasts vitamin E, also known as tocopherols, which translates loosely from Greek as “to bear offspring”. We need vitamin E for strong fertility.
Salmon is high in selenium, which helps protect cells, including eggs and sperm, from DNA damage. Salmon also boasts other impressive anti-oxidants, and loads of Omega-3 fatty acids which help to regulate reproductive hormones. Just be sure to obtain your salmon from a clean and responsible source.
The decision to have children isn’t one most couples take lightly. However, when the time seems right — there are often unforeseen hurdles. If you’re eating a healthy diet high in fertility boosting nutrients, avoiding stimulants and other fertility busting foods, and watching your lifestyle habits, but are still having difficulty conceiving — please know that there are many, many more options to increase fertility and support your overall health.
A great second step would be to check in with a Naturopathic Doctor, and discuss treatment options that are right for you!
I’m wishing you all the best on this journey!