It is common to think that men are less concerned with diets and nutrition. But optimal nutrition affects a lot of areas of male health, far beyond weight. Many studies show that there is a link between dietary patterns and men’s sexual health. So what is the effect of nutrition on male fertility? Here are some things we know.
Nutrition and sperm quality
Male fertility is affected by the amount of sperm and its motility. Observational studies have shown that the more ingredients consumed from the Western diet, the lower the sperm quality. The Western diet includes processed meats, artificial sweeteners, high levels of salt, low consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Western diet has also been linked to an increased risk of complete mortality and many diseases including cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, stroke, chronic kidney disease and breast, colon and prostate cancer.
Further studies have found that consumption of saturated and trans fat and high-processed processed meat was associated with low sperm count and small ejaculation volume. In contrast, antioxidants consumed as part of our diet such as vitamins E, C, lycopene (vitamin A) and selenium, have been linked to improved sperm quality, this is because they neutralize free radicals and minimize oxidative damage. These antioxidants are present in a plant-based diet that includes vegetables and fruits in a variety of colors, nuts, seeds and legumes.
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Vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin B12 are involved in the sperm production process and therefore a deficiency in them can impair the amount of sperm. Deficiency of these vitamins can be detected by a simple blood test. Foods rich in folic acid are the whole variety of green vegetables and legumes, while vitamin B12 is found in animal foods such as beef, fish, chicken, eggs and dairy products. Of course it is advisable to consume the leaner fats.
In the past it has been speculated that soy-based foods impair fertility because they contain molecules called isoflavones, which are built like the hormone estrogen present in the body, and there are controversial studies, some studies show that soy consumption has a negative effect on male fertility. Relationship between soy consumption and fertility. According to the Israeli Ministry of Health, soy consumption does not affect the levels of sex hormones in men, which means that there is no ban on consuming these products.
The Mediterranean diet seems to improve male fertility. A Mediterranean diet rich in fish, monounsaturated oils like olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains. The Mediterranean diet is also associated with a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and a lower risk of morbidity and mortality from coronary heart disease and stroke, which in themselves affect sexual function and fertility.
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Sexual function and sexual desire
Sexual function and libido are also affected by diet, and not referring to foods that are considered aphrodisiac. Lifestyle changes through low-fat and low-calorie weight loss diets and even the Mediterranean diet in overweight or obese men have been observed to improve erectile dysfunction, as well as these diets in obese and overweight men may improve testosterone levels, a male hormone that affects sexual function .
Therefore weight loss in overweight or obese men will improve the situation, however, if a healthy man who is not overweight will do a low calorie weight loss diet or low fat diets testosterone levels may drop, which will indirectly adversely affect sexual function and are therefore not recommended for them. . In addition, it can be said that the Mediterranean diet reduces erection deterioration in the long run.
The hypothesis of the studies is that weight loss diets, which consume very low calories in relation to the body’s energy requirements, activate mechanisms that can impair many physiological processes in favor of “energy efficiency in the body” and the processes that will impair some are related to sexual function such as erection and libido.
Alex Shchukin Clinical Dietitian B.Sc R.D Heli Maman, a network that specializes in a healthy lifestyle