6 Nutrition and Lifestyle Changes Your Husband can Make to Improve His Fertility
Ciara Dove-Reid, RDN
June 22, 2022
6 Nutrition and Lifestyle Changes That Could Improve Your Husband's Fertility!
We all know fertility involves both men and women. And while women tend to be more connected to their fertility and reproduction in general, many men want to take a more active role in their fertility. In honor of Men's Health Month—which is June in case you missed it—I wanted to share 6 nutrition and lifestyle tips that can help men's fertility!
1. Reduce Meat Intake
If you’ve followed me for a long time, you know I am a proponent of a more plant-based diet. There are many pros to reducing your meat intake, and improved male fertility is just one of the many benefits of eating a diet rich in plants.
To start, some meats (like certain cuts of beef and pork) are high in saturated fats. And even though not all saturated fats are bad, they are associated with reduced sperm quality. Also, excess heme iron (only found in animal protein) can reduce the availability of antioxidants needed to protect sperm.
Your husband certainly doesn’t need to cut out meat altogether, but according to research, reducing meat intake could produce healthier sperm.
So In lieu of meat, consider adding more plant-based proteins to his diet. Try swapping or adding black beans or lentils to ground beef tacos or burgers, or making meat-free chilli.
2. Eat Omega 3s from Plants and Fish
If your husband wants to improve his sperm quality, he may want to consider upping his intake of omega 3s from both plants and fish. Plant-based omega 3s—also known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALAs)— can greatly affect sperm quality. You can read more about it in this study published in the National Library of Medicine.
The study specifically looked at whole walnut intake, a food specifically known as a high source of ALAs. The study showed that ALA intake greatly improved sperm shape (morphology), concentration, and motility. Besides walnuts, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, canola oil, navy beans, avocados, some whole wheat bread, and oatmeal are all good sources of ALAs.
It’s also important to get omega 3s from fish, which improves a different aspect of sperm quality. Specifically, these omega 3s are essential in the formation of the acrosome, or the pointy cap of sperm.
Because omega 3s from fish and plants have different benefits, it’s beneficial to make sure you’re getting some from both fish and plant sources.
3.Buy Organic Fruits and Vegetables When You’re Able
I know that buying organic isn’t doable for all. Organic fruits and veggies tend to be more expensive, and depending on where you live, they may not be as readily available. But, when you can, it’s helpful to buy organic fruits and vegetables, especially if male fertility is a concern.
Ladies, if you’re the grocery shopper in the house, do your husband a favor and stock the fridge with organic produce. Pesticides have been linked to disruptions in testosterone and decreased sperm quality. To learn more about how to limit your exposure to pesticides and herbicides visit my past blog.
4. Stay Hydrated!
Since semen is comprised largely of water, staying hydrated when trying to improve fertility should be obvious, however, many men are not drinking enough, nor do they know how severely sperm motility can be hindered by poor water intake.
Water helps improve sperm quality and volume. The semen of dehydrated men is thicker, making it more difficult for the sperm to travel to the egg.
Even though water is very important many people have no idea how much water they actually need to drink, or how much they do drink during any given day.
One good rule of thumbs is to divide your weight in pounds in half, and that’s how many ounces of water you ought to drink every day. Another recommendation that is widely accepted now is that men need 3 liters of water per day, while women need 2.2 liters. This means that most men need close to 40 ounces more water than women.
5. Limit Contact with Heat and Radiation
You may have heard exposure to hot tubs or computers can decrease sperm count and thought it was a myth. But unfortunately for my hot tub lovers, it’s true. Constant exposure to heat and radiation from sources like hot tubs, saunas, and computers can impact sperm quality.
One article by the Cleveland Clinic shared how radiation exposure from cell phones, computers, and microwaves negatively affects male fertility including motility, morphology, and sperm count. Additionally, a study in a Brazilian urology journal tracked infertile mens’ sperm with exposure to extreme heat (hyperthermia) and the response of sperm to the cessation of that heat exposure. Nearly half of the men saw increased sperm count and motility when they stopped going in hot tubs.
There’s no guarantee that limiting exposure to radiation and heat will make an infertile man fertile, but statistics support that if your husband is looking to have the healthiest sperm, these lifestyle changes will help.
6.Buy a Water Filter
We’ve already talked about increasing the amount of water you drink to help men have healthier sperm. But there are ways to improve the benefits of water even further. All water is not created equally, and regrettably, some pollutants in water are linked to poor semen quality. For the same reasons that pesticides in non-organic fruits and vegetables affect sperm, pesticides, disinfectants and other chemicals found in water have the same negative outcomes.
The good news is that there are actionable steps you can take to protect yourself from exposure to these pollutants. The main step is buying a quality water filter for your home like Berkey. Berkey filters remove unsafe particles that are found in the tap water of millions of Americans.
You also may be familiar with the somewhat recent exposure that BPA in plastics can leach into the water, which negatively affects the endocrine systems of both males and females. Now you can find many plastic water bottles that tout that they are BPA-free, although I suggest playing it even safer and just drinking from a glass!
Also, don’t overlook getting a filter for your shower head. While the water you drink is your primary exposure to toxins in water, the water you bathe with can play a role too. In fact, research has shown elevated urinary excretion of toxic disinfectant compounds in water, even when they are tested to be in a safe range.
By reducing your meat intake, increasing your omega 3s from both plants and fish, eating organic fruits and vegetables, staying hydrated, limiting exposure to heat and radiation, and using a water filter, your husband stands a good chance of improving the health of his sperm. It’s sad that these threats to fertility are all around us and a part of our everyday lives. But the good news is, now that you’re educated, there are action steps you can take, even starting today. Encourage your husband with these healthy tips!
If you are interested in exploring fertility and nutrition coaching alongside your spouse, be sure to book a discovery call so we can discuss your goals!