Nutrition and Fertility: are they connected?
When we want to children, all eyes are on the woman. 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. 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. Certain foods have an effect on sperm. Zinc contributes to sperm production and selenium contributes to normal spermatogenesis.
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.
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!
- Eat 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.
- Get enough active folic acid. Folate supplementation increases maternal folate status. Low maternal folate status is a risk factor for the development of neural tube defects in the developing fetus.
- 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.
Vitamins and minerals to support your fertility
Zinc contributes to normal fertility and reproduction.
Where can you find zinc? Good sources of zinc are oysters, lean red meat, nuts, sesame seeds, beans and whole grains.
Folic acid supplementation increases maternal folate status. Low maternal folate status is a risk factor for the development of neural tube defects in the developing fetus.
Where can you find folic acid? Good sources of folate can be found in fruits and vegetables, especially leafy vegetables and grain products.
Selenium contributes to normal spermatogenesis.
Where can you find antioxidants? Selenium is found in vegetables, fish, meat, seeds and nuts.
Taking DHA contributes to normal brain development in the fetus and breastfed infants.
Where can you find DHA? DHA is mainly found in fish and seafood.
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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