Diet and Sperm! By Mrs Abigail Bollard
Grandma is ill today, probably from journalism over-work, and asked me to put in an article, the next one in the pipeline. Oh, it is on sperm counts, which is of interest, since my hubby had a bit of trouble in that area until giving up the beer and losing weight. Now he is back in fine form. But, a lot of men are struggling in that department, being like dying whales on the beach:
“Total sperm count in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand dropped by up to 60% in the 38 years between 1973 and 2011, research found -- an acceleration of a trend that began in the 1940s. More recent studies show the trend is continuing. At the same time, studies show a concurrent decline in testosterone levels -- the hormone needed to build a man's muscle and bone mass and boost his sex drive. Why? No one knows for sure. Debate rages about the role of radiation, air pollution and chemicals in our food, clothes and water. Smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity likely all play a role. So could the lower nutritional quality of the typical Western diet, according to a new study published Friday in JAMA Network Open. "This study is the largest study to date to examine the diet pattern with men's testicular function," said study author Feiby Nassan, a research fellow at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The study found that, on average, men who typically ate a Westernized diet of pizza, snacks, sweets and processed foods produced around 68 million fewer sperm upon ejaculation than men who ate a more healthy, balanced diet. A man is considered to have a low sperm count if he has less than 39 million sperm per ejaculation or fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter. A low sperm count can negatively impact a man's ability to get a partner pregnant, and it can be a key marker for overall male health.
"Fertility is not just important to make babies," Nassan said, adding that new research recently shows fertility is related to a man's general health and life expectancy. The study looked at 2,935 Danish men of normal weight -- with a median age of 19 -- who were undergoing a physical to determine their fitness for military service (something all men in Denmark have to do after they turn 18). Blood and semen samples were taken, and the men completed a questionnaire that asked how often they had eaten 136 food items in the prior three months. The study looked at four food patterns:
• The "prudent," healthy pattern, in which fish, chicken, vegetables, fruit and water were mostly consumed.
• The "open-sandwich pattern," a more typically Danish diet with a greater intake of cold, processed meats, whole-grain breads, mayonnaise, cold fish, condiments and dairy.
• The vegetarian-like pattern, with a high intake of vegetables, soy milk and eggs, with little to no red meat or chicken.
• And the "unhealthy" Western pattern, with more pizza, snacks, french fries, sweets, sugar-sweetened drinks, processed and red meat, snacks and highly processed grains.
Men who closely followed the prudent pattern of eating -- characterized by lots of fish, chicken, vegetables, fruit and water -- were associated with the highest sperm counts. This was followed by the semi-vegetarian and then the "smørrebrød," or Danish, eating style. "The median sperm count of men who had the highest adherence to the 'prudent' pattern was 68 million higher than men who had the highest adherence to the 'Western' pattern," Nassan said, with 95 percent confidence intervals of 43 and 93. In addition, the median sperm count of men who had the highest adherence to the vegetarian-like pattern was nearly 33 million higher than men who mostly ate the less nutritious Western diet.”
Here is more information from the study itself:
“IMPORTANCE Diet may play a role in testicular function, but data on how adherence to different diet patterns influences human testicular function are scarce. OBJECTIVE To determine whether adherence to specific dietary patterns is associated with testicular function in young men. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS This cross-sectional study included 2935 young Danish men unselected regarding fertility status who were enrolled from April 1, 2008, through May 31, 2017. Data were analyzed from July 1, 2017, to January 30, 2019. EXPOSURES Dietary patterns identified with principal component analysis based on responses to a validated food frequency questionnaire. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Standard semen quality assessment; serum concentrations of testosterone, free testosterone, estradiol, inhibin B, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and sex hormone–binding globulin; and testicular volume measured with ultrasonography. RESULTS Among the 2935 participants included in the analysis, median age was 19 (interquartile range, 19-20) years and 2290 (78.0%) had normal body mass index. The 4 dietary patterns identified included Western, prudent, open-sandwich (a traditional Danish eating pattern), and vegetarianlike. The greatest adherence to the prudent pattern was associated with the highest total sperm count (median, 167 [95% CI, 146-183] million), followed by adherence to vegetarianlike (median, 151 [95% CI, 134-168] million) and open-sandwich (median, 146 [95% CI, 131-163] million) patterns. Adherence to the Western pattern was associated with the lowest total sperm count (median, 122 [95% CI, 109-138] million), which was significantly lower than sperm count in the other 3 diet patterns. After adjusting for confounders, the median total sperm count for men in the highest quintile of adherence to the Western pattern was 26 million lower (95% CI, –42 to –9 million) than for men in the lowest quintile of adherence to this pattern. Conversely, the median total sperm count of men in the highest quintile of adherence to the prudent pattern was 43 million (95% CI, 23-63 million) higher than that of men in the lowest quintile. Men with the highest adherence to the Western pattern had a lower median ratio of inhibin B to follicle-stimulating hormone (–12 [95% CI, –20 to –3]) and higher median ratio of free testosterone to luteinizing hormone (10 [95% CI, 2-19]) compared with men with lowest adherence to this pattern. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE In this cross-sectional study, adherence to generally healthy diet patterns was associated with better semen quality, with potentially more favorable fertility potential among adult men. JAMA Network Open. 2020;3(2):e1921610. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.21610”
So, the short summary is, if you want to keep your sperm count and quality up, eat healthy, because nothing will deplete your manhood more than a poor diet. As well, some foods, are high in oestrogenic chemicals, beer being a good, or rather bad, example. It is not an accident, that men beer drinkers get that huge pregnant stomach look:
“It might seem manly to drink beer, but a chemical found in hops might be the cause of some very feminine attributes. Hops, which gives beer its flavor, are female flowers of the hop plant and contain high levels of phytoestrogen—a plant estrogen. According to research conducted by acclaimed herbalist and author Stephen Harrod Buhner, hops can also contribute to breast development in men and to a condition called “brewer’s droop”—or impotence brought on by heavy drinking. “[From] long-term exposure to the estrogenic properties of hops, [they] eventually have difficulty sustaining erection,” Buhner told Vice News. In his book, Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, Buhner says that hops have long been used in herbal medicine to help treat things like insomnia and endometriosis, and ease symptoms of menopause. Men who drink lot of hoppy beer, like a strong India Pale Ale, may see some unwanted effects, like man boobs, premature aging, sluggishness, tooth decay, hair loss and a beer belly. Severe drinking can also damage the liver, which undermines the organ’s ability to metabolize hormones. An inefficient liver will convert male androgens into the estrogens, resulting in the dreaded man-boobs, or “moobs,” Dr. Robert D. Galiano, a plastic surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, told Muscle & Fitness.”
Yes fellows, life can be cruel!