Men: Here is How You Make Sure Your Sperm Can Make Healthy Babies!10 months ago | Fertility
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
When it comes fertility issues we generally focus on the woman’s ability to conceive, especially as she ages. But the truth is men also have to be mindful of fertility problems. And a man may be proactive about maintaining the quality of his sperm, by maintaining a healthy weight.
You likely already know obesity may cause inflammation in the body and a plethora of health problems, like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more. And now, a recent study provides evidence that obesity may affect the quality of a man’s sperm.
Researchers used advanced computer-aided sperm analysis (CASA) and analyzed the sperm of 1,285 infertile men. Some of the men were considered obese and had a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Other men were not considered obese and had a BMI under 30.
The results revealed that sperm from the obese men had lower semen volume and sperm count (oligospermia). The obese group also had slower sperm motility (asthenospermia) and problems with sperm morphology (the size and shape of sperm).
And in an earlier report, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded, “[t]here is emerging evidence that male obesity negatively impacts fertility through changes to hormone levels, as well as direct changes to sperm function and sperm molecular composition.”
What’s maybe even more concerning is “[r]ecent data has shown that male obesity also impairs offspring metabolic and reproductive health suggesting that paternal health cues are transmitted to the next generation with the mediator mostly likely occurring via the sperm,” according to the NIH.
This means that these health issues may not end, despite overcoming reproductive challenges and conceiving a baby. In fact, it may affect the next generation.
These findings suggest that weight loss by men before conception may be a good thing. According to the authors of the most recent study, “efforts focusing on male weight loss before conception are warranted for couples seeking fertility treatment.”
Improvements in sperm quality and quantity were reported after weight loss and supplementation with vitamin C.
So how can men be more proactive about the health of their sperm?
- Know your numbers. Being ‘overweight’ does not necessarily mean you are obese. Never rely solely on your body mass index (BMI) for determining whether you are healthy, overweight or obese. BMI is simply your weight (kg) divided by your height (meters) squared. More accurate methods of determining obesity are observing how your clothes fit, how damaged your joints are from supporting excess weight or measuring your waist circumference. In addition, you can get a more comprehensive body composition test that measures intra-abdominal fat, muscle mass and more. Body fat percentage in males that exceeds 30% is generally an indication of obesity.
- Add garlic to your diet. Not only does garlic add delicious flavor to a variety of dishes, but it may also help with sperm motility, according to the NIH.
- Educate yourself about the role nutrition plays in maintaining healthy semen. It has been reported that diets rich in nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin D, folate, selenium, zinc, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids are associated with good semen quality. However, in a recent summary, the NIH reports that “diets rich in processed meat, soy foods, potatoes, full-fat dairy and total dairy products, cheese, coffee, alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets have been detrimentally associated with the quality of semen in some studies.” And “a high intake of alcohol, caffeine and red meat and processed meat by males has a negative influence on the chance of pregnancy or fertilization rates in their partners.”
- If you smoke, quit! Of course smoking is bad for you for so many reasons, particularly lung cancer. Tobacco from smoking may also damage the DNA in sperm, lower sperm count and make sperm less mobile.
- Find an exercise activity that is right for you. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides the recommendations for the amount and type of physical activity needed by age.
- Never underestimate the importance of minerals in helping prevent weight gain. The critical role minerals play in our health has been comprehensively discussed in Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient. Low magnesium levels are associated with reduced growth of of lean body mass (muscle and bone building) and an increase in body fat. Foods containing magnesium include spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, kefir, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, dark chocolate and bananas. Phosphorus deficiency is associated with weight gain. Dietary sources of phosphorus include salmon, halibut, yogurt, milk, turkey, chicken, beef, lentils, almonds, peanuts, eggs and bread. Iron deficiency may be associated with obesity. Iron-rich foods include poultry, seafoods, beans, spinach (and other leafy greens), peas, cherimoyas and iron-fortified cereals. Zinc may help to block the bad effects of obesity in the body. This may be due to zinc’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties. You can find zinc in lamb, pumpkin seeds, grass fed beef, mushrooms, chickpeas, spinach and chicken.
Finally, one of the important steps to take prior to starting any weight loss program is to be tested for any nutrient imbalances. This will allow you to tailor your diet to exactly what your body needs to function at its best.
Remember that when it comes to our overall health, generally everything is connected or intertwined in some way. If obesity can affect your heart and stomach, it may also hit you below the belt!
Enjoy your healthy life!
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