There are two definitive things to avoid to help with male fertility – smoking and drinking alcohol. However, many men do not realize that their diet can also affect their fertility. Processed meat products like bacon and sausages do affect male fertility in a negative way.
According to a study from Harvard University in 2013, men who were involved in fertility treatments and who ate more than one serving of processed meats, such as salami, bologna, bacon, hamburgers, and hot dogs, ended up with lower semen quality. The team analyzed sperm samples of 156 volunteers and compared them to each participant’s food intake, as reported on a food intake questionnaire. “Processed meat was associated with lower sperm concentration and morphology,” lead researcher Dr. Myriam Afeiche, of the university’s Department of Nutrition.
Conversely, men who ate more chicken or other poultry, had a better chance of improving their fertility. However, the research does not show the exact cause and affect cycle. In reality, Dr. Rebecca Sokol says that may studies have shown that diet can affect human fertility, but out diets are very complex and it is difficult to say how a particular food type may affect the reproductive outcomes. There is one possible explanation – processed meats tend to house more hormonal and chemical residues than other meats, which could have potential reproductive consequences.
The fertilization rate for in vitro fertilization (IVF) without intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) was 28 percent higher among men who ate the least amount of processed meat than among those who ate the most processed meat (82 percent versus 54 percent).
In another 2014 study, published in the journal Epidemiology, the same researchers found that eating processed meat was associated with lower sperm count.
What Should Men be Eating?
So, this begs the question – what should men considering fertility be eating? The good news is that the Harvard Nutrition team also noted a positive association between male fertility and fish consumption. According to the research, white meat fish like cod and halibut were associated with a higher percentage of normal sperm. Salmon, tuna and other dark meat fish, on the other hand, were related to a higher total sperm count.
In essence, it is not clear whether eating red meat in general is good or bad for your fertility, due to the lack of depth of the researches. However, there is a possibility that the meat is not the problem, but rather the chemicals or hormones in the processed meats that might be an issue. Regardless, healthier dietary choices, as elucidated through the food sensitivity blood testing with a Naturopathic Physician, combined with a healthier lifestyle, which includes exercise in moderation, may overall increase fertility outcomes in men.
If you or a loved one is experiencing challenges in fertility, please feel free to book an appointment with me at Edgemont Naturopathic Clinic, and I will be happy to help guide you.
By: Dr. Sanjay Mohan Ram, B.Sc.(Hon.), N.D.