Most of us know that it’s important to avoid junk food and keep active to improve male fertility. But there are also many proactive strategies that specifically power up sperm production and health.Focusing on foods that contain the building blocks for healthy sperm is key. Studies indicate that a healthy intake of micronutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, zinc and omega-3s can reduce the risk for low-quality sperm with damaged DNA. This is vital for creating a healthy baby, and becomes increasingly important when trying to conceive at a later age.
One study found that men aged 44 and older who consumed the most vitamin C-rich foods had 20 percent less damage to sperm, compared to men of the same age who consumed very little vitamin C.
Let’s examine the most important foods high in sperm-building nutrients to help promote healthy cells and increase the chances of conception.
If you have previously been a smoker and are now hoping to increase sperm health, vitamin C helps reduce oxidative damage.
It’s important to allow a minimum of 72 days to cleanse and nourish the body prior to conception. This is the length of time it takes for a batch of sperm to mature in the testes.
Focus on consuming vitamin C-rich foods raw since the nutrient density is sensitive to cooking. Suggested foods include peppers, strawberries, citrus fruits, kiwifruit and cruciferous veggies, such as brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and kale.
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant. Similarly to vitamin C, this helps preserve the structure and shape of sperm and protect against potential damage. Sunflower seeds, avocado, almonds and olive oil are great sources of vitamin E.
Folate is a B-family vitamin which helps regulate the normal amount of chromosomes contained in sperm. This helps reduce the risk of birth defects, Down’s syndrome and miscarriage. Some excellent sources of folate are asparagus, spinach, collard greens, lentils and beans.
Zinc is one of the most commonly lacking minerals in both men and women. It is one of the main building blocks for healthy sperm, and increasing intake shows great benefit. A study in Fertility and Sterility found that sub-fertile men who took zinc sulfates daily saw a 74 percent increase in total normal sperm count after 26 weeks, compared to men who were treated with placebos.
Zinc can become damaged when foods are overcooked or processed, so be sure to cook meats on a gentle heat. These include beef, lamb, shrimp and venison. Good raw sources of zinc are oysters, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. When purchasing seeds, ensure they haven’t been roasted.
Men who consume more omega-3 fatty acids have been observed to show better sperm quality. One study found that 75 grams (about a handful) of omega-3-rich walnuts per day created a significant improvement in the shape and motility of sperm after 3 months. Oily cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, are also excellent sources of omega-3s.
It’s important to note that all of these nutrients should be consumed from whole-food sources, not supplements or fortified foods. The body recognizes and absorbs nutrients much more effectively when they are in synergy with other compounds within a natural food.
Many mainstream sources recommend reducing saturated fat, dairy, meat and cholesterol to help build healthy sperm. However these recommendations really only apply to commercial, mass-produced, medicated versions of these foods. If you choose eggs, meat and dairy from healthy, organic, pasture-raised sources, this will only help to support robust hormones and sperm production.
More importantly, focus on adding a variety of nutrient-rich vegetables, shellfish and seeds if your diet has previously been heavy in meat, grain, or dairy.
Here’s to taking control of your fertility and creating happy, healthy babies.
—The Alternative Daily