Historically, women have always been the focus of all matters relating to fertility and pregnancy, but with global increases in infertility, more research is focusing on the men.
The causes of male infertility can vary. Lifestyles, environmental factors, stressful conditions, and socio-economic conditions are significant factors. Diet plays a crucial role in improving a man’s reproductive capacity. The appropriate diet should be diverse and ensure the intake of all the necessary nutrients to enhance sperm quality. The Mediterranean diet, which includes high amounts of vegetables and fruits rich in detoxifying and antioxidant substances, as well as polyphenols, flavonoids, carotenoids, and microelements, especially when consumed with organic foods and a lower carbohydrate regimen, are the key aspects addressed in this study.2
A recent clinical trial investigated the effects of a reduced carbohydrate Mediterranean diet on several indices of male sexual health. Specifically, the researchers looked at sperm DNA damage and testosterone levels.
- Mediterranean diet has a beneficial effect on male fertility.
- Organic food increase the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet.
- Low-carb organic Mediterranean diet reduces sperm DNA fragmentation.
- Low-carb organic Mediterranean diet increases testosterone levels.
- Organic Mediterranean diet can counteract the prooxidant effect of pollutants.
Participants were placed on either a traditional Mediterranean diet, composed of at least 80% organic produce, or the same diet but with reduced carbohydrate (CHO) content.
Specifically CHO content was reduced to 35% of total calories with the main emphasis on reducing refined carbohydrate sources and replacing them with whole grains and flavonoid-rich fruits.
After 12 weeks, those participants following the reduced CHO diet had significantly raised testosterone and demonstrated reduced sperm DNA fragmentation Index.
The researchers postulated that improvements in seminal plasma SOD, Catalase and GPx played a role in improvements in sperm morphology and motility.
This study provides yet more evidence that a Mediterranean diet, and a lowered glycaemic load, result in improvements in male sexual health.
This is good news for those couples wanting to become pregnant and also provides the basis for sound, evidence-based clinical guidelines.
The pink columns represent values prior to the dietary intervention and the green columns are values obtained following the intervention. It can be seen that testosterone rose from 11.1 nmol/L to 23.9 nmol/L (ref. range 10-30 nmol/L) and the DNA fragmentation index decreased from 44.2% to 23.2%.
Chapter 1 of my book, Conversations with my Daughter: How to Have a Healthy Baby highlights the importance of proper preparation to ensure male sperm are active, healthy and fully functioning.
The results of the above research show that a minimum of three months’ preparation time can have a very positive impact on improving male fertility.
2. Effects of the low-carb organic Mediterranean diet on testosterone levels and sperm DNA fragmentation. Veronica Corsetti, Tiziana Notari, Luigi Montano. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2665927123002046