Can Food Make You Infertile? Foods to Eat and Avoid
1. Men who drink at least a quart of cola daily have sperm counts almost 30 percent lower than men who drink no cola. The Danish s...
Tina Kold Jensen, et al.
“Caffeine Intake and Semen Quality in a Population of 2,554 Young Danish Men.” American Journal of Epidemiology, 171 (8): 883-891.
2. Women who eat lots of low-fat dairy products face an 85 percent higher risk of ovulatory infertility than women who consume little or no low-fat dairy products.
Failure to ovulate is a common cause of infertility. The Harvard-affiliated study that yielded this stat found this condition strikingly high in women who consumed two or more daily servings of low-fat dairy products. Because past fertility studies on milk were inconclusive, “we compared low- and full-fat dairy products as an exercise in thoroughness,” says Jorge Chavarro, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard University and coauthor of this study and of The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant. “These findings were extremely surprising,” Chavarro says, given that the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults consume three or more servings of low-fat dairy products daily.
J.E. Chavarro, et al.
“A Prospective Study of Dairy Foods Intake and Anovulatory Infertility.” Human Reproduction, 22 (5): 1340-1347.
7. Men with high concentrations of trans-fatty acids in their semen have 96 percent fewer sperm than men with low concentrations of trans-fatty acids in their semen.
Eat donuts, shoot blanks. Trans-fatty acids are commonly found in fast food and junk food; their presence in a man’s semen proves that he ate foods containing them. The Harvard-affiliated study that yielded this stat confirmed previous rodent studies suggesting that “trans-fatty acids can affect spermatogenesis profoundly,” the authors write. High TFA in men’s drastically lower sperm counts raise stark questions, as the researchers were unable to determine the timespan over which TFA accumulates in the testes and/or how long it stays there. Potentially, it could last a lifetime.
11. Women who eat large quantities of omega-3 fatty acids are 22 percent less likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis—a common cause of infertility—than women who eat little or no omega-3s.
12. Women who consume large quantities of non-heme iron—the kind found in lentils, spinach, and supplements—have a 40 percent lower risk of ovulatory infertility than women who consume little or no non-heme iron.
“The kind of iron that is found in meats is essentially not related to fertility,” says Chavarro, who led the Harvard study that yielded this stat. “Instead, the strong association is the kind of iron that comes from either supplements or vegetable sources.” Can lentils help you get pregnant? No one knows—yet. Of the many infertility-causing conditions, ovulatory disorders are the ones that studies show respond most strongly to dietary changes, Chavarro says. Yearning to learn more, his team is soliciting participants for a huge new fertility study.
13. Women who consume at least 5 percent of their daily calories in the form of vegetable protein rather than meat protein have a 50 percent lower risk of ovulatory infertility than women who consume only meat protein.
14. The sperm of men who consume very low quantities of antioxidants is only two thirds as motile as the sperm of men who consume high quantities of antioxidants.