By: Denise Foley
Looking to become a Daddy? You may want to skip the beer, give up burgers, lose some weight and eat what your sperm considers to be the breakfast of champions: a bowl of whole-grain cereal and fruit.
Those are the findings of a recent Brazilian study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility. The researchers at the Fertility-Assisted Fertilization Centre in Sao Paulo looked at the eating and lifestyle habits of 250 men who, with their partners, were undergoing fertility treatments. They compared that information with an evaluation of the men’s semen.
The men whose sperm were at the lowest concentrations and sluggish -- potentially too lethargic to make it to the egg meetup -- were fatter (as measured by their body mass index or BMI) and more likely to smoke, drink alcohol and eat red meat. Men who were on a weight-loss diet also had poorer-quality sperm.
Had this been a study on women’s fertility, it might have provoked a ho-hum. Previous studies have found that obesity, the habit of smoking, and the consumption of meat and alcohol also lower a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant. For example, in one large study looking at the lifestyles and eating habits of 18,555 nurses, the women who ate the most animal protein had a 44 percent greater risk of being infertile than the women who ate the least. (The link: Meat eaters may be heavier -- fat contains more calories per ounce than carbohydrates -- or, as one controversial 2007 study suggested, it may be the steroids fed to cattle to help them bulk up faster for market.)
So What Should You Be Eating to Procreate?
Whether you’re a man or a woman, get more complex carbs into your diet. Simple carbs are things like chips, cookies and white bread -- yeah, that’s right, what you probably ate during the Super Bowl. Complex carbs are vegetables (hey, carrot sticks dip just fine too), fruit and whole grains. They have loads of fiber, which another study reveals is part of the best baby-making diet. That research also identified foods that are high in folate (fortified breakfast cereals, spinach and beans), vitamin C (citrus fruits and juices, red peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts) and lycopene (tomatoes).
Add a little candlelight and sweet talk, and you’re all set.
Check out restaurant maven Gordon Ramsay talking to a fertility expert about the link between diet and male fertility.
Denise Foley is Completely You’s “News You Can Use” blogger. She is a veteran health writer, the former deputy editor and editor at large of Prevention, and co-author of four books on women’s health and parenting.
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