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In a recent study published in March 2009’s Fertility and Sterility, a Spanish research team led by Jaime Mendiola, PhD found a correlation between diet and semen quality. Thirty men with low sperm counts and thirty-one men with normal sperm counts were recruited from a fertility clinic. They were interviewed to determine what types of food they ate day to day. There were differences between the two groups when it came to the consumption of certain food types. It was found that the men with lower sperm counts ate more fatty dairy, processed meats and fewer fruits and vegetables. Men with normal sperm counts consumed skim milk, lettuces, fruits and fewer processed meats.
The difference in food intake and semen quality may be related to several factors. Sperm create reactive oxygen species (ROS), which in large amounts are detrimental to sperm quality. It is thought that men who consume more vegetables and fruits ingest more antioxidants, which rid the body of ROS’s, and thus promote healthy sperm development. Another theory is that processed meats and fatty dairy can contain xenoestrogens, which are lipophilic (fat loving) molecules. Xenoestrogens are considered one factor in the steady decline of semen quality in humans over the past hundred years, and could be affecting the sperm of men who are consuming fatty milks and meats in larger quantities than their peers with normal sperm counts.
The results of the study suggest that ingesting more foods with antioxidant qualities, including vegetables and fruits, may improve or maintain the quality of a man’s semen, whereas ingesting fatty milks and meats may deteriorate semen quality.