If a couple has regular, unprotected sex for at least a year and still cannot conceive, the partners are considered infertile. For the last few decades, the rate of infertility in the United States has increased. It is estimated that between 16 and 25 percent of all couples have serious difficulty getting pregnant. Poor nutrition, stress, environmental toxins, and an increase in STDs from more partners have all contributed to the problem. Also delaying childbirth until the 30s and 40s, when a woman’s fertility is on the decline, can be a factor.
Top 5 Ways to Build Strong Sperm
- Zinc: Semen, the secretion product of the prostate gland, contains large amounts of zinc and the prostate gland concentrates this nutrient. In animal studies, zinc deficiency results in complete sterility. Good sources of zinc: oysters, eggs, beef, liver, herring, oats, onions, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.
- Omega 3-fatty acids: Prostaglandins, which are abundant in healthy semen, are produced from essential fats. Poor sperm quality, poor motility or low count, could be indicative of low levels of prostaglandins.
- 3. Vitamin A and D: Research is accumulating that indicates that vitamin D is essential for full reproductive function in both sexes.Food sources of vitamin D include oily fish like salmon, sardines and shellfish (shrimp has at least 8 times the amount of vitamin D as liver9). Vitamin A is required for proper utilization of D, and is found is good fats like pastured butter.
- Vitamin E and C: Antioxidants are important for neutralizing free radicals from pollution in the air, water and food that can affect sperm.
- Fermented foods and drinks: Important for detoxifying the body of heavy metals that can affect sperm, while building intestinal flora crucial for proper absorption and manufacture of nutrients.
Top 5 Ways Sperm is Negatively Effected
- Poor diet: A diet lacking in vitamin A, D, zinc and omegy-3 fatty acids combined with a diet high in processed foods can affect sperm tremendously.
- Pesticides: found on non-organic fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy and unfiltered tap water act as endocrine disruptors and can raise estrogen levels, weakening sperm.
- Unfermented soy found in tofu and any products that contain soy contain phytic acid and bind to calcium, magnesium zinc and other minerals leading to depletion. Sperm counts have seen significant decreases worldwide, falling 50 percent from levels measured in the 1930s.3 In 1996, a Japanese researcher, M. Fukutake, made a connection between consumption of unfermented soy products and a decrease in sperm counts.
- Altered fats like trans-fats found in fast foods restaurants and convenience foods, butter substitutes and low fat foods can compromise the ability to conceive and to give birth to healthy babies.
- Alcohol and cigarettes: Alcohol is harmful to women’s eggs and men’s sperm and as little as one glass can reduce fertility by 50 percent.6A study tested the effects of cigarette smoking on semen quality in men and found that sperm motility (ability to propel forward) decreased in light smokers while heavy smoking produced abnormal sperm shape. Scientists have discovered that quitting smoking may increase sperm count in men who quit smoking for 5-15 months by 50 percent to 800 percent respectively.
Traditional Foods for Fertility
Proteins: Wild salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, pastured chickens and eggs, grass-fed beef and lamb, wild game, nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds which are high in zinc)
Fats: Ghee, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.
Dairy: Cultured dairy products (preferably goat) like yogurt, kefir and raw cheese.
Carbohydrates: All vegetables and fruits both raw, cooked and fermented, and small amounts of organic whole grain products properly treated for the removal of phytates, such as sourdough rye and sprouted grain bread or soaked rice.
Beverages: Filtered, high mineral water; mineral rich homemade broths.
Condiments: Unrefined sea salt; raw vinegar; spices in moderation; fresh herbs.
Omega-3 fatty acids stabilize hormone function.
Vitamin C prevents sperm agllutination in men, and antioxidants are important for neutralizing free radicals from pollution in the air, water and food that can affect sperm.
B-vitamin deficiencies are often present with infertility.
Cordyceps has clinical evidence suggests that it has a beneficial impact on female fertility and the success of IVF. This may be due to its ability to stimulate 17β-estradiol production, through increased StAR (steroidogenic acute regulatory protein) and aromatase expression20.
Zinc is concentrated in sperm.
1. Jordon S. Ruben. The Makers Diet
2. Crocker C, in a lecture about the hypothalamus and pituitary, Biology 612, San Francisco State University, May 7, 2003.
3. The Effects of Antenatal Exposure to Phytoestrogens on Human Male Reproductive and Urogenital Development http://www.westonaprice.org/soy/phytoestrogens.html
4. Fukutake M and others. Quantification of Genistein in Soybeans and Soybean Products. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 1996;34:457-461.
5. Wise Choices, Healthy Bodies: Diet for the Prevention of Women’s Diseases http://www.westonaprice.org/women/wise_choices.html
6. 10 Ways to Address Your Root Causes of Infertility — Naturally http://blogs.mercola.com/sites/vitalvotes/archive/2009/10/14/10-Ways-to-Address-Your-Root-Causes-of-Infertility–Naturally.aspx
7. Can Vitamin C or E Help Male Infertility? http://www.webmd.com/news/20010622/can-vitamin-c-e-help-male-infertility
8. Fally, Sally. Nourishing Traditions.