Foods to Consume
· These carbs are slowly digested in the intestines instead of rapidly digested resulting in increased blood glucose and insulin.
· Examples include: fruits, veggies, quinoa, brown rice, millet, oats, beans, peas, lentils, sweet potato, spelt, barley, buckwheat
Plant & Animal Protein
· Try to get in one plant protein daily and animal protein 4 times a week
· Plant proteins: chickpeas, fava beans, peas, lentils, spirulina, moringa, kidney beans, edamame, black beans, lima beans, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
· Animal proteins: choose lean meats like turkey or chicken and eggs. If you want to cook meat in a pan, choose an oil that can stand high temperatures like coconut oil or avocado oil.
· Fish is safe and healthy 2-3 times a week. Opt for fish low in mercury levels such as salmon, herring, cod, catfish, haddock, herring, oyster, and sole.
Nuts & Seeds
· Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein and essential fatty acids
· Nuts can improve egg and sperm quality and lower inflammation and cholesterol
· Examples include: walnuts, almonds, chia, hemp
Veggies & Leafy Greens
· Please try to enjoy them at every meal, in fact, half of your plate should be taken up by veggies
· Sneak them into your breakfast smoothies and omelets
Oils & Fats
· Oils are a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 and can increase pregnancy rates and sperm concentration. A fish oil supplement is a great way to get in your daily amount of omegas.
· Avocado oil has the highest smoking point for cooking, but it is best not to fry foods. Avocados (the whole fruit) contain many vitamins and minerals and are great for managing cholesterol
· Olive oil should be used on salads, veggies, and cooked meats instead of cooking with it. Try to aim for 2 tablespoons a day.
Foods to Forget:
· Trans-fats – promote inflammation and lower sperm count and concentration
· Caffeine – try for no more than 200mg a day while trying to conceive (i.e. a tall Starbucks or medium Tim Horton’s). Better yet, make it at home! >3 cups a day can alter sperm parameters
· Alcohol – Avoid daily alcohol intake. I would say 1-2 glasses of red wine a week is fine while trying to conceive. Daily alcohol intake can lower percentage of sperm with
normal morphology. Note: Alcohol stops the liver from properly processing Vitamin A which is required for healthy sperm development.
· Fish high in mercury – these include shark, swordfish, king mackerel, marlin, tilefish, albacore tuna, canned tuna
· Avoid anything that has a “no sugar” or “low fat” label. If there’s no sugar or fat then it’s being replaced with a chemical. Limit added sugar as much as possible while trying to conceive
· Men should avoid soy as it may lower sperm concentration and testosterone levels
· Cell phone use exposure dependent can change motility, viability, and morphology of sperm
· Smoking – one of the most damaging risk factors of sperm health. It can impact motility, concentration, morphology and semen volume.
Spermatogenesis takes approximately 74 days. Every day about 200-300 million spermatozoa (aka sperm) are produced in the testes. The maturation of sperm occurs in the testes under the influence of testosterone. The fluid that sperm live in is called seminal plasma and is able to buffer the acidity in the vagina. The fluid contains enzymes, zinc, vitamin c, phospholipids, phosphatase and spermine.
Below are common minerals/vitamins that can support male fertility and common places you can find them in food!
Zinc – increases sperm count, morphology and motility and also assists in optimal gene expression. It can be found in pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, grass fed beef and spinach
Vitamin C – helps with sperm motility and provides antioxidant support. It can be found in oranges, red peppers, kale, brussel sprouts and kiwi
Vitamin E – Provides antioxidant support and to prevent lipid peroxidation (breakdown of lipids). It can be found in almonds, spinach and sweet potatoes
Selenium – increases sperm motility and testosterone, assists in thyroid function, provides antioxidant support. It can be found in brazil nuts, yellow fish tuna, halibut, sardines and grass fed beef
Calcium – a key component in semen and nourishes sperm. It can be found in dark leafy greens such as kale, sesame seeds/tahini, sardines, broccoli, milk/yogurt/cheese
By Samina Mitha, saminamitha.com