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Hey men, have you ever thought about the term “you are what you eat”? Well this term is also true for healthy production of sperm and sperm quality. Sperm typically takes 74 days to be produced in the testes. In fact, it takes a total of three months to form a mature sperm that can fertilise an egg!
Many dietary factors affect sperm quality and cause DNA damage – some of these are a poor diet, smoking, drinking and recreational drugs.
One good thing for you guys, sperm is continuously being produced every 3 months, so it’s possible to increase the quality of your sperm. By increasing your intake of antioxidants, selenium, zinc and folate you can increase sperm quality!
What is decreased sperm quality?
Nutrients such as zinc, B vitamin, folate, creatine, selenium and other antioxidants are critical for the process of sperm maturation. When these sperm boosting nutrients are low, there is an increase in reactive oxidative species known as ROS. A build up of ROS can cause DNA damage to the maturing sperm, increasing the amount of abnormal sperm.
Top 5 tips for looking after your sperm:
- Consume foods dense in macronutrients and antioxidants to prevent DNA sperm damage, such as turmeric, blueberries, prunes, kale and spinach to name a few.
- Increase foods with vitamin C to increase sperm count and quality. Vitamin C reduces the quantity of sperm sticking together, and not being able to fertilise an egg. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, mango, papaya, pineapple, strawberries and watermelon.
- Consuming foods high in antioxidants, which include vitamin C and E, zinc and selenium, helps to increase sperm motility. Our top 3 antioxidant rich foods are goji berries, wild berries and dark chocolate (in moderation).
- Love your nuts? Just 5 brazil nuts a day can help increase male fertility due to their selenium content
- Consume foods high in zinc to aid the repair of DNA damage, and improve sperm function and physiology. Good sources of zinc include in lean meats, oysters, liver, seeds, nuts, and whole grains
Take care of your sperm by avoiding:
- Alcohol to a minimum – no more than 3 units per day. According to a study from Vignera, S, L et al (2013), more than 3 units of alcohol has an adverse affect on sperm parameters and testicular morphology.
- Restrictive underwear – is tight around the testis and holds them closer to the body causing over-heating, and sperm damage.
- Avoid using laptop computers on your lap as this heats up the testicles, damaging sperm.
- Cut out all refined sugars, as these produce reactive oxidative species (ROS), that cause damage to your sperm.
- Maintain a healthy body weight and perform regular physical exercise
Eskenazi, B., Kidd, S, A., Marks, A,R., Sloter, E., Block, A, J., Wyrobek, A, J. Antioxidant intake is associated with semen quality in healthy men (2005). Human Reproduction’ 20, 4, 1006–1012.
Vignera, S, L., Condorelli, R, A., Balercia, G., Vicari, E., Calogero, A, E. (2013). Does alcohol have any effect on male reproductive function? A review of literature ‘Asian Journal of Andrology’ 15, 2, 221-225.
Vujkovic, M., de Vries, J, H., Dohle, G, R., Bonsel, G, J., Lindermans, J., Macklon, N, S., van der Spek, P, J., Steegers, E, A, P. (2009). Associations between dietary patterns and semen quality in men undergoing IVF/ICSI treatment, ‘Human Reproduction’ 24, 6, 1304–1312.