New research suggests following a healthy diet pattern is linked to better semen and potentially more favorable fertility. The study points out that semen quality has decreased substantially over the last few decades.
“According to a recent meta-analysis that included more than 185 studies, total sperm count has declined by 50% to 60% from 1973 to 2011 in Western countries, in line with a continued decline since the 1940s. In addition, some investigators have also reported a concomitant secular decline in serum testosterone levels. Although debate is ongoing about the underlying causes for these declines, there is a growing concern and evidence that environmental exposures such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals and air pollution or behavioral factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption could explain this decline.”
The study, published in JAMA Open Network, highlights the possibility of nutrition and eating habits as contributing factors to the decline in semen quality, especially in Western countries. The authors said this is the largest study that they know of that examines the association between diet patterns and markers of testicular function.
While several studies have looked at the association of isolated nutrients such as zinc, folate, antioxidants and saturated and trans-fats, interest has shifted recently to the role of overall diet patterns.
“Although this literature is still expanding, these studies suggest that adherence to generally healthy diet patterns is associated with better semen quality parameters in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia,” said lead study author Feiby Nassan, a postdoctoral research associate at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.