Fertility and Food for the Fellas
No worries ladies, women's health is still the focus of this blog. However, in honor of Father's Day and National Men's Health Month, I wanted to share some important information for the men in your life to improve their fertility and health.
After all, what's good for the goose is good for the gander, it takes two to tango (or to make a baby), and err... you get the point. Both an egg and sperm are needed to create a new life. And just like our food choices can affect our fertility, nutrition can affect men's fertility too.
Erectile Dysfunction and Nutrition
Considered by many as an early sign of cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction affects millions of men. Most men who experience erectile dysfunction are over 60 years old, but it can and does affect younger men as well.
Because an erection happens when the teeny tiny capillaries in the penis fill with blood, any damage to these delicate vessels can be make it difficult to get and sustain an erection. The same less than healthy eating habits that can block and damage the arteries and veins running throughout the body, can clog and damage the capillaries in a man's penis. And the same healthy eating habits that are good for the arteries and veins, are good for the capillaries too.
Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, poultry, legumes, and fish, while limiting red meat, seems to protect men from developing erectile dysfunction. Eating like this might even reverse it in some cases. A shining example of an eating pattern that fits the bill is the Mediterranean Diet. Head over to the MediterrAsian Way's and the Oldways websites for more information about how to adopt a mediterranean lifestyle.
Nuts, the heart healthy snack of choice for many, also plays a role in keeping the blood flowing to all the right places. One small study looked at the effect of eating 100 grams (roughly 3.5 oz, 4/5 of a cup, or 143 kernels) of pistachios a day for three weeks on the erectile function of 17 middle aged men. The men, overall, saw an improvement in erectile function, sexual satisfaction, and their cholesterol levels. Just a few more reasons to trade in those less than stellar processed snacks for a handful of nuts.
Semen Quality and Eating Habits
Sperm have a tough job. They travel a great distance to deliver important genetic material to the egg. Both the quality of the DNA and RNA and the sperm's ability to successfully swim through the foreign environment of a woman's reproductive system, are affected by different lifestyle factors, including nutrition.
Once again, eating a diet full of fruit and vegetables is one of the best choices to make for improved reproductive and general health. The semen of men with diets high in fruit and vegetables, have more progressively motile sperm. That means more of the sperm in their semen actually move from one place to another rather than swimming aimlessly or gyrating without making much progress. Progressively motile sperm are more likely to make it to the ready egg than ones without much direction.
The results of a recently published study suggest eating large amounts of fruit and vegetables with a lot of pesticides may negatively affect semen quality. For this reason, I would recommend choosing organically grown varieties of the Dirty Dozen, the fruit and vegetables with the highest pesticide residue when conventionally grown, whenever possible.
In addition to eating ample amounts of fruit and vegetables, staying away from trans fats seems to be an important thing to do to keep semen quality high.
Putting It to Use
So now that we know pistachios might help with erectile dysfunction and fruit and vegetables are apparently good for sperm health, while trans fats are not, how can we use this information? Below are some ideas. If you think up some more, share them in the comment box below.
- Trade out store bought microwave popcorn and make your own with a brown paper bag, coconut or another oil, and popcorn kernels (check out my post on coconut oil for specific directions) to avoid trans fats.
- Before you put anything else on the plate, first fill half of it with vegetables at lunch and/or dinner.
- Add fruit to the morning's hot or cold cereal. Any fresh, frozen, and no sugar added dry fruit will work.
- Munch on pistachios in place of potato chips and similar snacks.
- Adopt a Mediterranean lifestyle for a diet pattern that is as tasty as it is healthy.
I hope this post provided motivation and information you can use to encourage the men in your life to make healthier eating choices; ones that will help them stay healthy, stave off erectile dysfunction, and keep their little swimmers strong.
Make sure to share this post with the special guys in your life. All of them: your brothers, cousins, friends, sons, husbands, boyfriends, fiancés, fathers, uncles, the mailman, the garbage man, and the taxi driver. Did I leave anyone out? If so, tell them too!