PSA to Men Who Are TTC: Put Down the Junk Food

Researchers say a mostly “western diet” of junk food may lower their sperm count.
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By Stephanie Grassullo, Associate Editor
Published July 15, 2019
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Women who are trying to conceive or are pregnant are constantly reminded of the role their diet plays. But they’re not the only ones who have to be conscious of what they consume. Men whose diets consist of lots of junk food may be harming their chances of conceiving. A “western diet” of pizza, red meat and processed foods may decrease sperm count and potentially harm fertility, according to a study from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, which was reported on by

The study looked at the diets of nearly 3,000 young Dansih men to find out how what they ate on a daily basis affected their sperm counts. The men, who all took military fitness exams between 2008 and 2017, were categorized by the type of foods they consumed regularly or their “diet patterns.” The patterns included a Western diet consisting mostly of pizza, chips, red meats, processed foods, snacking, refined grains, energy drinks and sweets; a “prudent diet” of fish, chicken, vegetables, fruit and water; a classic Danish “smørrebrød diet” of mostly cold processed meats, whole grains, mayonnaise, cold fish, condiments and dairy; and a vegetarian diet of mostly vegetables, soy milk and eggs.

While men who followed the prudent diet had the highest sperm count, those who typically ate a Western diet had the lowest count. The vegetarian diet was the second highest group, followed by men who ate a traditional Danish pattern.

The results aren’t all too shocking. We know that maintaining well-balanced eating habits promotes healthiness, and a healthy body is more likely to conceive. Plus, fruits and veggies, which make up a large part of the prudent diet, are among some of the most common fertility-boosting foods.

Although the results seem pretty on par with what many medical experts recommend, there are a few things to keep in mind. For starters, the researchers only factored Danish men into the equation. Also, they didn’t take into account some other facets that may have caused low sperm count, such as a genetic predisposition for it or taking certain medications that can decrease their count.

An enriched diet isn’t the only way men can hurt or harm their chances of conceiving. Taking a daily multivitamin is one of the easiest and most effective ways to boost fertility. Plus, males who are night owls may also be putting themselves at a disadvantage, according to this research—all the more reason to hit the hay early.

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