Study: Better diet makes for better sperm, greater fertility

TARRAGONA, Spain — As many as 15 percent of all couples experience fertility issues when attempting to get pregnant, so figuring out ways to change that is a high priority for many people.

A new study may offer some help. Researchers in Spain determined that switching to a healthy diet might be one of the more important things that can be done to increase one’s sperm quality and fecundability.

It’s long been suggested that people actively trying to have children start taking extra good care of themselves first. These suggestions generally include exercising regularly, doing yoga for its stress-relieving benefits, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, and eating right. But it hadn’t been scientifically proven that changing the diet actually helps — until now.

A new study finds that partaking in a better diet can improve the quality of sperm and chances of becoming pregnant.

Researchers at the Human Nutrition Unit of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) and the Pere i Virgili Health Research Institute set out to prove that this was true. They confirmed that sperm quality can, in fact, be improved by changing the diet.

The research team determined the type of diet associated with an increase in sperm quality is one that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, and low in saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids. The diet should also be high in antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin C, β-carotene, selenium, zinc, cryptoxanthin, and lycopene, as well as vitamin D and folate, according to a university release.

On the flip side, researchers suggest skipping diets high in processed meat, soy foods, potatoes, full-fat dairy products, cheese, coffee, alcohol, and sugary beverages. Instead, they urge focus on foods like fish, shellfish, seafood, poultry, cereals, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy.

This type of eating plans falls in line with the ever popular Mediterranean diet eating style, which is widely recommended for other aspects of health and wellness as well.

The study was published this month in the journal Human Reproduction Update.