Nutrition and Fertility: are they connected?
When we want to children, all eyes are on the woman. We start taking folic acid three months in advance to prepare for pregnancy. We limit our alcohol intake. We focus on staying healthy by paying attention to nutrition for fertility.
But… you know what? It takes two to tango! A man's fertility is also something to think about because being able to get pregnant also has to do with the quality of the sperm cells.
After failing to get pregnant, many couples realise that it is the man's fertility that makes it more difficult to get pregnant. This is almost always related to the sperm quality. That is why it is important to know what a man can do to improve his fertility. Does nutrition affect fertility? Want to learn more? Read on!
Mobility, shape and the amount of healthy sperm cells
There are three factors that influence the quality of the sperm cells:
- How motile the sperm is. Sperm swims to reach the egg. If a man's sperm doesn't move properly, it can't get to the egg. And although the uterus and fallopian tubes make contractions to help the sperm cell, it still has to do most of the work itself. If that fails, fertilization cannot take place. Like most fertility issues, sperm become less motile as the man ages.
- Sperm shape and health. Not all sperm cells are perfect in shape. The more sperm cells that are not properly formed, the smaller the chance of a spontaneous pregnancy. Research shows that the number of well-formed sperm cells decreases as you age.
- The number of sperm cells. Every time a man ejaculates, one hundred to two hundred million (!) sperm cells are released. If fewer sperm cells are released during ejaculation, the chance of pregnancy is smaller.
So, what can a man do to increase the chances of pregnancy?
The maturation of a sperm cell takes 75 to 90 days. What he eats today will have results on the quality of his sperm in three months' time. So, the best time to start was… 90 days ago. The second-best moment? Now!
Male Fertility and Nutrition
Before we tell you more about nutrition and fertility in men, we will give you a few tips to improve the sperm quality and quantity.
- Drink responsibly! This of course applies to everyone. But a man who wants to be a father needs to drink in moderation. More than two alcoholic drinks a day reduces the quality of the sperm.
- Do not smoke or use drugs. This results in lower quality sperm. Just like alcohol.
- Keep it cool down there. If a man's testicles get too hot, sperm quality can decline. They shouldn't get hotter than 35 degrees – Yes, two degrees lower than the average body temperature. But don't worry, you don't have to put ice cubes on it. Loose underwear is good enough. And it is also wise not to sit in the same place for too long, not to take hot baths or to visit saunas.
- A healthy environment. If a man is sick, it can temporarily reduce the quality of the sperm. And if he works with chemicals or radioactive substances, pesticides, lead, radiation (such as X-rays) it can also affect the quality of the sperm.
- Relax! Stress is another culprit when it comes to sperm quality. Try to reduce intense and prolonged stress as much as possible.
- Exercise, but keep it calm. You don't have to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, but exercising, even to a minimum, can have a positive impact on sperm quality. However, if a man exercises too much, it can cause less testosterone production, which reduces sperm count. So don't go to the extreme.
- Eat healthy. Healthy foods like fruits and vegetables improve sperm quality. Vitamin B, folic acid, and foods high in zinc are also perfect for healthy sperm.
Can nutrition improve fertility in men and women or not?
Is there any truth behind articles about nutrition for male fertility? We all know that a balanced lifestyle has a positive impact on our general health, but does the fertility diet increase the chance of pregnancy?
To be honest, we don't know (yet)! Research hasn't shown that it immediately increases the chance of pregnancy, but it does show that it can help. It won't hurt to try it out!
Why should you try it?
- You can start right away.
- It costs nothing.
- There are no additional negative effects.
- It is the basis for a healthy pregnancy and a balanced diet.
So, we think it's definitely worth adapting your nutrition to improve fertility. But remember that food isn't everything.
Getting pregnant is about more than just eating healthy. It has to do with your age, genetics, hormones, environment and stress. All these parts are important for your fertility. In short, you can't control everything, only some things. Let's start with those!
- Use saturated fats and avoid trans fats whenever possible. Saturated fats can be found in nuts, oily fish and avocado. Oily fish species include herring, mackerel, eel, sprat and salmon.
- Opt for vegetable proteins such as beans, hemp seeds, nuts, tempeh, tofu and vegetables.
- Say yes to complex carbohydrates! They have a bad reputation in some diets, but if you want to get pregnant you have carte blanche to eat them!
- Get iron from vegetables such as spinach, pumpkin, tomatoes, cabbages and mushrooms.
- Take prenatal multivitamins with at least 400 milligrams of active folic acid, such as Guud Flow.
- Drink water, at least two liters a day
- Go for a healthy body weight. Being over or underweight can mess up your cycle and prevent you from ovulating. A BMI between 19 and 25 is good. Not sure what your BMI is? Calculate it with this tool.
- Exercise, but don't overdo it. Exercising too much can prevent you from ovulating. If you are underweight, this is more likely to happen.
Book tip: The fertility diet.
Supplements to support your fertility ✨
Zinc is indispensable for healthy and sufficient sperm. Studies have also shown that zinc and folic acid can help with female fertility.
Where do you find zinc? Good sources of zinc include oysters, lean red meats, nuts, sesame seeds, beans and whole grains.
Folic acid is necessary for the DNA contained in semen. For women who want to have children, folic acid can help with healthy growth and development of your baby. Keep taking it during your pregnancy, it will help develop your growing baby's nervous system and help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.
Where can you find folic acid? Good sources of folic acid can be found in fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens and grain products. Not sure if your intake is high enough? Choose a supplement with active folic acid such as Guud Flow. This multivitamin contains 500 mg of Quatrefolic, everything you need to prepare for a healthy pregnancy.
Note: Taking folic acid can lower your vitamin B12 levels, so it's important to take a multivitamin with folic acid supplement, which also contains vitamin B12 to prevent a deficiency.
Sperm is easily damaged by free radicals that reside in your body. Antioxidants can help protect your body from this damage.
Where do you find antioxidants? Antioxidants are in nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and other compounds found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Getting enough omega-3 has been shown to improve sperm count, motility and shape. And it can also help improve female fertility by helping to regulate hormones and promote ovulation.
Where do you find omega-3? In meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals, hemp seed and vegetables such as spinach. Our supplement Guud Inside also contains sustainable omega-3. It's based on algae, vegan, and good for you and your partner!
According to research from the University of Copenhagen, vitamin D is a big plus for sperm quality, as it helps the sperm cells to swim faster. Vitamin D is also especially important in the fall and winter (because of the sun deficiency) and can contribute to better fertility in men and women.
Where do you find vitamin D? Fish such as salmon, swordfish and tuna are rich in vitamin D. Many foods are also fortified with vitamin D such as some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk in grains.
This powerful mineral plays an important role in stress. It helps regulate your cortisol levels. And we all know that stress can negatively affect your cycle and therefore your fertility. Read more about how stress affects your period.
Where do you find magnesium? Think of green leafy vegetables, but also bananas and dark chocolate (choose minimum 70% cocoa), nuts and seeds. Or opt for a supplement with magnesium citrate and bisglycinate such as the Guud Vibes.
The body absorbs magnesium citrate and magnesium bisglycinate (naturally bound magnesium forms) better. This gives better results. Moreover, you avoid the risk of stomach and intestinal problems.
The Guud supplements contain ingredients that are linked to health claims, which means that they are scientifically substantiated.
We know that getting pregnant can sometimes seem like a complicated experiment, but try not to stress (easier said than done!). Do what you can, and remember: A plan you can stick to is better than a plan you can't stick to. Do you want more information about how to prepare your body for pregnancy? Contact us. We can help you.
We are in this together ❤️
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