When it comes to conceiving a child the first challenge a woman faces is the critical component of creating a healthy egg. We must have healthy eggs that can become viable embryos able to sustain pregnancy. The next critical component is healthy sperm. Your most basic plan for conception looks like this:
1) Healthy Egg
2) Healthy Sperm
3) Healthy Biological Environment
4) Perfect Timing
So lets talk about how your partner can increase the quality and quantity of his sperm through nutrition.
We cannot have healthy eggs or sperm if we are consuming the standard American diet, which I suspect is largely to blame for our current fertility statistics. One in six women are struggling to get pregnant. Ongoing studies that began in the 1970's have shown that sperm counts have dropped by 50%. This is a significant decline and medical professionals suspect it will continue to decrease. While environmental factors play a part, nutrition and lifestyle also contribute heavily.
Here are some of the foods that can help impact reproductive health in men:
Foods rich in zinc such as pumpkin seeds, oysters, turkey, lobster and other sea food. Adding zinc to the diet has been show to increase sperm count, quality and motility. However over supplementing with excessive zinc has been shown to have a negative effect, so stick with a zinc rich diet rather than a pill.
Foods rich in folate such as sunflower seeds, leafy greens and legumes. It is important to consume folate and not it's synthetic form folic acid. While I hear frequent discussion about the MTHFR mutation and it's effect on female infertility it's impact on men is rarely discussed. If your partner has this genetic mutation they will have methylation challenges and will not be able to break down folic acid. There is significant research indicating this can impact the health of sperm. If you suspect this is a factor it is also important to avoid processed enriched foods (cereals and bread) which are fortified with folic acid.
Foods containing healthy fats such as salmon, avocado, chia seeds, flax seeds, flax seed oil and walnuts. Healthy fats help create healthy cells and play an important role in hormonal balance.
Foods that are powerful antioxidants such as bell peppers, spinach, blueberries, dark chocolate, pecans, elderberries, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, strawberries and broccoli. Keep your plate colorful and you will likely have your antioxidant needs met. It is estimated that between 30-80% of male infertility cases are caused by oxidative stress. Combating this by consuming antioxidants has been show to increase overall sperm health.
Foods that contain Vitamin B12 such as beef, liver, wild caught salmon, sardines, mackerel, eggs, feta cheese, cottage cheese and nutritional yeast. It is well established that a B12 deficiency leads to genetic damage in sperm. To avoid taking in extra estrogen it is important that beef and dairy are organic and come from grass fed cows. Nutritional yeast is high in protein and B12 and is a great option for vegetarians and vegans. This savory powder can be added to soups, salads, casseroles and is a great topping for popcorn.