A new study suggests that diet can have a major impact on men’s reproductive health. One set of findings suggests that the more carbohydrates or dairy a man eats, “the poorer the quality of his sperm.”
The findings will be presented this week at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine at their annual meeting in San Diego.
Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology with the Harvard School of Public Health, explained that studies have shown a decline in men’s sperm counts throughout the 20th century. Recent studies show that decline has continued in recent years.
“Studies have found that there appears to be a downward trend in sperm counts throughout the world that spanned the entire 20th century, and more recent studies suggest that it may have continued into the early 21st century,” Chavarro said. “While this is still highly controversial, if a downward trend in sperm counts is indeed taking place, the determinants of these decline are not clear at all.”
Chavarro asserts that the reason for the decrease in effective sperm may be environmental factors, such as environmental estrogens. Also, changes in the population’s general health – such as growing rates of obesity – also may have an effect.
The study – launched by Harvard – explores the impact of nutrition on sperm strength, focusing mainly on carbohydrate and dairy intake.
Here are the findings:
“A dietary analysis revealed that carbs accounted for roughly half of all calories consumed among the participants. The team found that carb intake did not appear to have any impact on sperm mobility or shape. However, it did find that the more carbs consumed, the lower the man’s overall sperm count.”
For those who consumed dairy – particularly full-fat dairy such as whole milk and cheese – the shape of the sperm changes, but sperm count and movement remained unchanged.
Chavarro notes that these findings remained the same regardless of a man’s weight, height, tobacco and alcohol use, and caffeine consumption.
The bottom line: If interested in reproducing, men should be aware of their carbohydrate and dairy consumption, noting that a diet rich in carbs may effect sperm count.
To our male readers: Do studies like these make you think about changing the way that you eat to improve your reproductive health?