I wanted to provide you with a little greater understanding as to WHY a few simple changes to your diet + lifestyle are so important and offer you additional nutritional support that you can integrate into your daily life to help with sperm quality.
Quite simply, you are what you eat, and so are your sperm. As with most health issues, nutrition is absolutely key and is one of the biggest influencers of sperm health. A few small changes in your diet can have a huge impact on your chances of success when it comes to conceiving.
But first, why is it so important to have a good diet whilst TTC?
Sperm are particularly prone to the damage caused by free radicals. Discover their common causes and how to counter their impact.
Our bodies work on many different systems of balance. One of these systems, is called oxidative stress. This is when there is an imbalance between free radicals, which cause damage to healthy cells, and antioxidants, which counteract these effects.
Oxidative stress is what contributes to the process of ageing, and in the case of fertility, oxidative stress is known to impact sperm health.
Free radicals are caused by many known ‘toxic’ substances, such as alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs, but also by some substances that are perhaps less expected, such as fried, barbecued or burnt food, and caffeine.
Common Causes of Free Radicals
Fried, burnt and barbecued foods
There’s nothing we can do to stop free radicals. Even breathing contributes to their production, so we have to look at what else we can do to limit their effect. This is where antioxidants come in. Yes, those supplements that your other half has been telling you to take are important.
Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidisation and can therefore balance the effects of oxidative stress. One of the key ways we can influence the balance between antioxidants and free radicals is through our diet, by eating foods high in antioxidants.
Nutrition + Antioxidants
Foods rich in antioxidants can help to combat the damaging effects of free radicals. A diet high in good quality fruit, vegetables and unprocessed meat is essential, because of their antioxidant elements and their high content of vitamins and minerals.
Antioxidant-rich foods include:
Fresh fruit – grapes and blueberries
Dark leafy green vegetables
Nuts and seeds
Pulses and beans
Top Tip for Snacks!
Tomatoes contain a high dose of lycopene which is an incredibly strong antioxidant. The longer the tomatoes are cooked, the more lycopene there will be. So here’s my go to sperm nurturing snack:
Grab your favourite (gluten and dairy free) cracker. Homemade with lots of nuts and seeds is great! Spread on some high quality tomato puree topped with some avocados and olives. So delish and so quick and easy!
Foods men should avoid during fertility treatment
Just as important as getting the right nutrients is limiting the wrong foods. Processed, fried, burnt or barbecued foods are all known to increase free radicals.
Caffeine and alcohol too raise free radicals and it’s important for fertility to limit their intake, whilst maintaining good levels of hydration by drinking plenty of water.
Many men question whether they should cut out alcohol altogether and you will find varying advice on this. My understanding is that staying within recommended daily limits will not adversely affect your sperm. The big “no nos”, however, are smoking, recreational drugs and anabolic steroids.
Obesity can be a big factor for fertility and research shows that being overweight can reduce the quality and quantity of your sperm. By cleaning up your diet and exercising regularly you should be able to maintain a healthy weight which is a good idea if you’re trying to conceive
Gluten, dairy and sugar increase oxidative stress and damage the cells in the body. Aim to reduce these food groups to help reduce internal inflammation and further damage to delicate sperm cells.
Whey protein shakes should be replaced with vegan, plant based ones. Why? Legally, whey protein shakes are allowed to contain a small amount of anabolic steroids, and it doesn’t need to be listed on ingredients. This will annihilate sperm production. Get your protein from elsewhere. It’s important to note that high protein intake can increase the hormone prolactin which will suppress testosterone.
Foods to avoid
Fried, burnt and barbecued foods
Get the right support!
It can be really challenging to make appropriate dietary changes so having the right support is integral to stay motivated. Speak with your practitioner for weekly accountability or alternatively, please reach out to our nutritional therapist who will be able to better support and guide you through this process.
In the meantime, simply enjoy exploring new foods and recipes with your partner and embrace the rainbow on your plate 🙂