There’s lots of healthy dietary advice around for women who are trying to get pregnant. But men hoping to become fathers should also be watching their diet and lifestyle to increase their fertility and their partner’s chances of conceiving.
They should be eating a healthy balanced diet containing food from the five main food groups everyday. These groups are milk and milk products; meat and high protein foods; fruit and vegetables; cereals and grains products; fats and oils.
The combination of drinking lots of water, exercising regularly, avoiding alcohol and cigarettes and eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in vital nutrients will boost a man’s fertility and a couple’s chances of conception.
However, a preconception check-up is advised for all men, along with their partners, so your doctor can help you decide if you need to make changes to your diet or lifestyle.
Zinc: helps to boost testosterone and raise sperm counts. Make sure there’s plenty of meat, seafood (oysters are a particularly rich source), pulses and eggs in your diet and watch your alcohol consumption as this can deplete zinc levels and generally have a negative effect on sperm performance. It’s also found in baked beans, nuts, whole grains and pumpkin seeds.
Vitamin C: is good for general health, valuable to help the body absorb iron and as an anti-oxidant it helps to keep sperm levels up and get them moving. Your diet should be rich in vitamin C from citrus fruits, berries, potatoes and green vegetables.
Vitamin E: also helps with sperm motility and is found in vegetables, vegetable oils, fish and poultry.
Folic acid: is taken by many women before conception and throughout the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It has been found to boost sperm count. It is found in green vegetables, brown rice, fortified bread and breakfast cereals.
Selenium: has been shown to be good for sperm motility. Brazil nuts and garlic are rich sources.
Fats and proteins: are needed in moderation, but try to stick to unsaturated fats which are essential for healthy hormone function.
Whole grains: such as oats, brown rice, whole wheat and quinoa are complex carbohydrates and so not only give you lots of energy by releasing sugar into your blood slowly and evenly, but also contain an abundance of B and E vitamins that are essential for cellular reproduction, hormonal balance and the production of healthy sperm.
Oily fish: salmon, mackerel and sardines are the best source of essential fatty acids (EFAs) omega-3 and omega-6 which are important for regulating reproductive functioning, improving blood flow and enhancing sperm quality and mobility. Flaxseed oil is a good EFA alternative for those who don't eat fish.
Garlic: contains an abundance of fertility-boosting nutrients. It's a great source of the mineral selenium (see above) and vitamin B6 which helps to regulate hormones and strengthens the immune system.
Lean red meat: Lean red meat is a great source of iron which helps to prevent anaemia, by playing a role in the production and function of red blood cells. Red meat is also a good source of vitamin B12 which is essential in the maintenance of the nervous system.
Honey: has for centuries been considered a fertility-boosting super food. It’s incredibly rich in the minerals and amino acids that nourish the reproductive system.
Spinach: and other leafy greens are an excellent source of folic acid which is important in optimising sperm production. It is also a great source of iron and vitamin C which helps to enhance s perm quality by protecting its DNA storage from damage.
Oysters: are rich in zinc which has fertility-boosting qualities helping with sperm production (see above).
Chillies: increase the flow of blood around the body, ensuring that the reproductive system gets a healthy supply. Chillies also stimulate endorphin (happy hormone) production and are an excellent source of vitamin C.
Avocado: provides a rich source of vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant and an essential fertility nutrient improving the viability of sperm. It is also an excellent source of unsaturated fats
Always try to eat fresh, unprocessed foods as these are likely to be much richer in vitamins, minerals and nutrients and also freer from pesticides and added oestrogens that may disrupt reproductive functioning in both men and women.
A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle will help to ensure you have all the nutrients you need to make sure your reproductive system is in optimum condition to create your baby.