Think a romantic meal of beef tenderloin with a side of potatoes sounds delicious? Maybe with a nice Bordeaux? Perhaps it does (especially if it’s grass-fed beef!), but it may decrease your chances of conception.
A new study shows that men who want to be fathers should increase their intake of fruits and veggies and decrease their consumption of fatty foods like red meat and creamy dishes.
Men who ate healthy diets not only had faster sperm, they had more sperm in their semen. It was both a quality and quantity effect.
Dr. Jaime Mendiola of the University of Murcia, Spain said of his research:
In this study, we have found that people who consume more fruits and vegetables are ingesting more anti-oxidants and this is the important point.
We saw that, among the couples with fertility problems coming to the clinic, the men with good semen quality ate more vegetables and fruit than those men with low seminal quality.
There are obviously many factors that influence fertility, and this is only one.
Some other factors:
- Low sperm count have been linked to phthalate exposure. Just one more reason to reach for the organic skincare products and avoid certain plastics.
- Smokers have a lower fertility level.
- Many medications–especially those for depression–are linked to infertility in men.
- Obese men can increase fertility if they lose weight. Hmm…cutting back on those meat and potatoes and dosing up on the healthy fare could help both causes.
For his next study, Dr. Mendiola says he’ll check whether these vitamins should come from pills or food, or if it even matters.
In this study, only 60 men were studied: 30 with fertility problems and 31 with healthy sperm. A large-scale study would obviously be useful in this case. The results are published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.
Image: thebusybrain on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
Cate Nelson says
That’s true; I wonder if that was one of the factors. Th meat that I purchase from nearby farms doesn’t use hormones and they cows are grass-fed. I’ll admit that we don’t *always* eat naturally raised meat, but we try!
I wonder if they used feedlot feed beef or grass fed beef in the study. The ISIS group has studies that show what the animals eat affects us and that the GMO cells/DNA migrate to the animal that eats the food. This may also be a factor in why modern beef, meats, are not healthy. Grade “A” does not mean the same thing it used to.
Heather Dunham says
That’s a real good point. If it was just 60 regular guys, odds are the vast majority of them — if not every single last one — were store-bought-meat eaters. I would bet (I haven’t read the actual study, but just from the sounds of it) that it’s not a case of them being fed or not fed beef during the study. Rather, that they filled out a questionnaire as to how much beef they usually eat, and that was compared with their sperm counts.
I personally have the opinion that meat actually IS a healthy food for human beings — GOOD meat, that is. Grass-fed beef has all kinds of great stuff in it, including the right balance of omega fatty acids, for instance. So it doesn’t make sense to me that eating meat would in any way be harmful to reproduction — how would the human race have survived? But the hormone angle, that absolutely makes sense to me.
It should probably be noted that this study says nothing about the mechanism of causation (nor, in fact, does it prove causation, merely correlation… from the standpoint of pure logic, it COULD be true that men with low sperm counts are driven to eat more meat, maybe there’s an instinctive craving for protein in an attempt to boost sperm — in other words, the low sperm count causes the meat-eating, rather than the other way around). So if the meat is at least partially responsible, this study can’t conclude that it’s the meat itself, or the way it was cooked, or what it was eaten with, or if it was something like hormones.
My money’s on the hormones. 😉
I read something recently where one of the readers posted a comment about this sort of study. I do not remember his name but I am going to paraphrase since it was so good.
“That is like saying that sneakers cause ankle injuries. When you look at the science the majority of people who wear sneakers probably DO have more ankle injuries so the tendency would be to blame the sneakers from this point of view. However, if you look at the actives these people we probably doing while wearing the sneakers you get a better idea of why so many of them have ankle injuries.”
Makes sense in this context, seems almost stupidly obvious in this context, but science has a way of narrowing the scope about these issues so much so that they exclude anything else relevant. I read recently that the scientific community is moving back to glass because the chemicals used in the production of plastic are altering the tests they are doing… maybe it was here… I do not remember… but even the tools they use are from this minimalist/narrow scope ideal and still causing problems.