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Recent studies have concluded that vegetarian diets play an important role in the production of healthy sperm, whereas diets high in animal fat contribute to male infertility:
- A diet of red meat had a negative impact on the sperm implantation rate according to a study published by Brazilian scientists in Fertility and Sterility, November 2011. This study also concluded consumers of red meat had a diminished chance of pregnancy.
- A 2011 study by the Harvard School of Public Health links a diet that includes high intakes of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, to healthier sperm. Conversely, diets heavy in red meats and processed grains had a detrimental effect on sperm motility (the ability to swim towards the egg).
- A 2005 study from the University of Rochester concluded that infertile men were twice as likely to have low intake of fruits and vegetables compared to fertile men.
- Researchers in Spain have also noted a relationship between food intake and male infertility in a 2009 study. They noted that frequent intake of animal fat such as milk and red meat has a negative effect on sperm quality, whereas high consumption of fruits and vegetables maintain and improve sperm quality.
The causal relationship is unknown, however, scientists suspect the beneficial effects of natural antioxidants found in whole fruits, vegetables and grains may help to keep sperm healthy.
Men who regularly consume meat also have higher levels of PBDE, a substance used in flame retardants, and known to cause infertility. Studies in Canada have found significant PBDE contamination in red meat, poultry, butter, cheese and salmon.
For more information:
- Environ Health Perspect. 2009 Oct;117(10):1520-5. Epub 2009 Jun 18. Diet contributes significantly to the body burden of PBDEs in the general U.S. population. Fraser AJ, Webster TF, McClean MD.
- Boston University School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. afraser@bu http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100119121434.htm.edu
- MLewis V, Kochman L, Herko R, Brewer K, Andolina E, Song G. Dietary antioxidants and sperm quality in infertile men. Paper presented at: Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine; October, 2006; New Orleans
- (Fertil Steril_ 2009;91:812–8. _2009 by American Society for Reproductive Medicine.)