Men, are you planning to go the family way in near future? Then, it’s time to go nuts! Different kinds of nutty varieties have been praised for their nutritive values and promoted as a heart-healthy snack. Nuts have a long-standing list of advantages to their kitty and the latest one is mind-blowing, especially for all the men out there. So guys, grab a bowl of mix nuts, settle yourself peacefully on your couch and feel good about yourself after reading the article!
Declining Sperm Count
Most of us (Except for a few exceptions!) love to munch on a handful of hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios or the ever-green cashews. A 14-week study has shown that including nuts in a regular diet significantly improves the quality and function of human sperms. This comes as a welcome news wherein there is an overall decline in sperm counts worldwide, especially in the developed countries. A colossal analysis reported a momentous decline of sperm counts between 1973 and 2011. This analysis made use of more than 40000 men’s semen samples available across 244 studies and found almost a 50-60% decline in fertility among men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Sperm concentration declined by 1.4% per year and sperm count by 1.6% per year.
Diet Can Improve Fertility
Research shows evidence piling up supporting the odds of conception when a person consumed a healthy diet. Almost one of four couples suffer from infertility and almost 40-50% of the time, the problems can be attributed to the man involved.
The study was performed for a duration of 14 weeks with the cooperation of 119 young men aged between 18 and 35 years. These participants were either given their routine western diet along with 60 grams/day of mixed nuts such as almonds, hazelnut and walnuts or their regular western-style diet without nuts. The study team recorder sperm parameters as per WHO guidelines along with changes in various molecular factors such as sperm DNA fragmentation. Sperm and blood samples were analyzed before and after the research.
WHO guidelines state four semen quality parameters which include concentration (simply put, sperm count and the quantity should be at least 15 million sperm cells per ml semen), progressive motility (32% minimum), vitality (58%) and morphology (4%). All these four parameters play vital roles in measuring sperm quality. It has been clearly proved at the molecular level that genetic integrity of every sperm cell is crucial for healthy and successful fertilization. When DNA strands in these cells either become fragmented or damaged, they lose their head start to fertilize an egg and enable embryonic development. Several studies and research theorize that DNA fragmentation is the result of oxidative stress due to environmental and lifestyle factors.
Study results showed significantly increased levels of sperm count, vitality, motility and morphology in those men who consumed 60 g of nuts daily compared to the nut-free diet group. All the major factors associated with male fertility showed decent improvements on a nut-based diet.
This study is an additional proof that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and B vitamin folate improve fertility as nuts are rich sources of all these and many other nutrients too. One reason to frown is that, this study was conducted on men who were healthy and fertile. We have no data to prove if the same results would prove positive in the case of men with fertility problems too. On the other hand, evidence is mounting up in support of complying with healthy lifestyle changes and eating a healthy diet to promote conception.
We witness more cases of IVF and IUI technology-assisted fertility treatments and there are more and more couples opting for such methods fearing childlessness. Problems such as PCOS, ovarian count problems, infertility due to obesity/overweight and similar other ones can be combated with a diet rich in all five food groups in the right proportion. There are certain problems that cannot be cured by dietary changes (such as problems with the fallopian tube) and it is advantageous to go for fertility treatments in such cases. But why waste your time, body, money and mental agony to solve some issues that can be corrected in the simplest way with diet and exercise? The website www.firsteatright.com lists down a clear picture of how diet plays a vital role in solving fertility problems, what kind of problems cannot be resolved by nutrition and how diet and nutrition affects fertility and childbirth. Let’s take every step possible to reduce a man’s risk of infertility (major causes include aged 40 years and above, obesity/overweight, smoking, drugs, alcohol, exposure to radiation and high temperatures) and boost the intake of a healthy diet along with regular physical exercise.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.