Friday Fertility Fundas: What foods can a man eat to increase his sperm count

Jun 29, 2018, 10:29 IST | mid-day online correspondent

Our experts answer all your questions related to fertility and pregnancy

Friday Fertility Fundas: What foods can a man eat to increase his sperm count

Fertility is a topic that most people shy away from talking about. But when it comes to burning questions that you are just too shy to ask someone face to face, we have the answers for you by Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant, IVF and Reproductive Surgery, Cocoon Fertility

There is a belief that certain foods help increase a man's sperm count, is this true? If so which foods can help?

You are what you eat – is not only important for the woman who plans to carry the baby but also for the man wanting to father a child. As a fertility expert I could not stress enough on the need for right foods and healthy eating habits for a couple planning a baby. Correct diet and choice of foods, helps improve the quality of the sperm and the egg and hence the chances of pregnancy. One may ask why so much stress on food?

In the 1980s the WHO sperm criteria for a normal semen sample were to have up to 200 million sperm to be normal. 2010 criteria specify a count of 40 million. Similarly expected normal forms in a sample in 1980s was 80% in 2010 it is 4%. This shows the overall rapid decline in sperm health parameters over just 3 decades. The egg and sperm fuse to form a baby. Obviously, the health of the sperm and the egg will affect the health of the baby and the future health of the child.

To see any discernible change in sperm or egg health, a switch in lifestyle and eating habits needs to happen at least 3 months in advance as the gamete production cycle is around 120 days. Certain chemicals viz. pesticides, alcohol, smoking and nutrition deficiencies can cause DNA damage. Studies have shown that 85% of the sperm produced by a healthy male is DNA-damaged. This is an important factor that reduces fertility potential.

A diet rich in micronutrients and antioxidants will help reverse this damage to some extent. Eating a nutrient rich diet promotes sperm health and reduces sperm damage. Zinc, Selenium, Vitamins C, E and D all increase sperm count, motility and mobility. The ideal foods are Fertility diets for men and women are necessarily similar with a few foods specific for each. Let us take a look at a few important foods that help in enhancing male fertility.

Zinc

Hormonal imbalance is linked with zinc deficiency, especially low testosterone levels. Cooking food damages the zinc in it hence at least 40% of foods should be consumed in raw forms ( fruits / salads). Eggs, lamb, oysters, shrimp, sesame seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, and green peas are all rich sources of Zinc.

Folic acid

Folic acid or Folate deficiency is linked to chromosome abnormalities in the sperm or egg resulting in increased risk of miscarriage, Downs syndrome etc. Lentils, beans, asparagus, spinach, black beans, kidney beans are all great sources.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 increases sperm counts. Dairy and animal products are rich in Vitamin B12. Vitamin C Vitamin C protects sperm from oxidative stress and DNA damage. Even in smokers

Vitamin C

Will help improve sperm parameters. Like Zinc cooking process destroys it and hence raw foods rich in Vit C are encouraged. Papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, oranges, kiwifruit, cauliflower and kale are all great sources of Vit C.

L-Carnitine

This is an amino acid needed for sperm motility and normal functioning. It is a necessary nutrient for sperm cells to function normally. Nuts, seeds, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, garlic, ladies fingers, and sarso are all rich sources of L-Carnitine.

CoQ10

Co-enzyne Q10 is an antioxidant. There is a direct link between CoQ10 levels and sperm motility, health and DNA integrity. Fish, meats, eggs, peanuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, strawberries and oranges all should be included in the diet to ensure a supply of CoQ10.

L- Arginine

This is an amino acid which is known to increase semen volume as well as sperm count. Dark chocolate is a good source for it. Please remember not to overindulge to avoid gaining weight as obesity can affect fertility adversely.

To sum up, eat healthy, eat raw foods and fruits. Eat organic if possible. Salads are your friends if trying for a baby. Have enough proteins, nuts and seeds and hydrate well. It was published in 1927, two years before Hubble's article.

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