It takes two
It takes two to make a baby, so making sure the sperm is the healthiest it can be before conception is vital to creating a healthy baby.
It actually takes 3 months for sperm to be made before they reach the ejaculation stage. And this is one of the many reasons why planning to improve your health before you actually want to conceive is beneficial and have better pregnancy outcomes. Ever wanted to check your or your partners sperm? The NHS offers sperm count testing kits.
So how do you get healthy sperm? Changing to a whole foods diet is one step but here are 5 points that every man wanting to conceive should address.
Alcohol and cigarettes
Smoking and drinking alcohol causes oxidative stress in the body, decreasing a man’s sperm count, and further deteriorating the sperm quality. Stopping smoking and reducing the amount of alcohol drunk can greatly improve your chances of getting pregnant. It is also better for the child’s health once born if you are not smoking near them, as second hand smoke is particularly harmful to children. The VMC outline the effects of drugs and alcohol on sperm.
Zinc is perhaps the most researched of all nutrients in boosting sperm quality and quantity. Zinc is found in high concentrations in the sex glands of the male and also in the sperm itself. It is estimated that you lose 1.4mg of zinc with each ejaculation. A lack of zinc may cause the sperm to clump together hindering their progress towards the egg. Foods that are rich in zinc are crab, oysters, lamb, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, lentils and chickpeas.
Zinc works alongside B6 and B6 is much needed for reproduction in both men and women. So, including foods in the diet that contain B6, such as meat, sweet potato, sunflower seeds, cauliflower, spinach and bananas is important.
There is so much negative press about fat, but we need the right sort of fats in order to remain healthy. Our brains are around 60% fat and we need it to create our hormones (from cholesterol). However we want to avoid eating unhealthy saturated fats, such as in fried foods, and margarine and replace these with unsaturated fats such as in organic butter and olive oil.
You should also eat avocados, nuts and seeds such as walnuts, chia and flax seeds, which contain omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) influence the sperm’s physical properties, giving them fluidity to move. Three portions of oily fish each week (Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines, Herring) are therefore recommended. By consuming these smaller fish you are reducing the risk of heavy metal toxicity that can be found in bigger fish like tuna or swordfish.
Don’t fry those sperm
Research indicates that men who keep their cell phone in their trouser pockets or on their belt may have lower sperm count and quality. This goes as well for having laptops on your lap whilst using them as they heat up, damaging the heat sensitive sperm.
AUTHOR: KATE WATERS
NUTRITIONAL THERAPIST, SURREY
Kate Waters is a registered nutritional therapist with a special interest in fertility and women’s health. She offers personalised nutrition, supporting clients to reach their goals in a realistic and healthy manner.