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Healthy Diet Improves Male Fertility


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By Margarita Nahapetyan

Men who stick to healthier diets including fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products, significantly improve the semen quality, researchers from Spain have found.

"A healthy, well-balanced diet is not just important for preventing diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or hypertension, but it may be useful for preserving or improving your reproductive health as well," said Dr. Jaime Mendiola of the University of Murcia, and the lead author of the new study.

According to Dr. Mandiola, the previous studies on the matter demonstrated that men who consume meat and full fat dairy products in large amounts, tend to have lower seminal quality, compared to those who eat more fruit, vegetables and reduced fat dairy products. This new study made it possible to see that individuals who include more fruits and vegetables in their diet, are ingesting more anti-oxidants, and this is what makes their sperm more healthy. The scientists also have spent the past 4 years analyzing diet and possible exposure to workplace toxic chemicals in men with fertility problems.

For their study purposes, Dr. Mandiola and his team analyzed 61 men, 30 of whom had reproductive problems, while the remaining 31 were assigned to a control group. All were attending fertility clinics. The men with poor semen quality had low sperm counts and relatively high percentages of abnormally formed sperm. All of the men provided at least two semen samples.

After taking into consideration factors such as cigarette smoking, age, body mass index (BMI), and exposure to contaminants in the workplace, the investigators came to the conclusion that diet remained a very important factor among all. The men with healthier sperm were more likely to eat diet high in carbs, fiber, folate, vitamin C and lycopene, compared to the men who had poor semen quality. The men with better semen quality also tended to consume products low in fat and protein.

Low levels of antioxidant nutrients in the diet appear to have a negative effect on seminal quality, Dr. Mendiola and his colleagues wrote in their report. The researchers hypothesized that antioxidants could bring down the oxidative stress levels that can have a negative impact on sperm. More antioxidants could theoretically be beneficial for both sperm concentration and motility.

"What we still do not understand is the difference between taking these vitamins naturally and in the form of supplements," the team said and added that in the upcoming studies that are planned to be conducted in the United States, they will be looking more thoroughly at the role of antioxidant supplements. In the conclusion Dr. Mendiola said that a healthy diet does seem to be a factor in sperm quality, however more research and randomized controlled trials will be needed in order to confirm this relationship.

SOURCE: Fertility and Sterility journal, May, 2009.

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