Eating unhealthy foods has always been linked to health problems. A number of studies have suggested that some foods may have a negative impact on fertility. Over the last ten years, the rate of infertility has gradually increased. The right choice of food can have a favourable impact on reproductive health in various ways. Foods that assist reproductive activities, enhance the health of a woman’s eggs and a man’s sperm, and supply essential nutrients for hormonal functions, production, and balance should be made part of one’s diet.
“About 15-20% of all couples trying to conceive suffer from infertility, which is caused by factors of both genders. As a result, it’s critical for couples to understand what foods can harm their gametes and it is best to avoid them,” says Dr. Ila Gupta, Senior IVF Consultant and Clinical Director at Ferticity Fertility Clinics, who lists foods to avoid in order to improve fertility chances.
Processed Meats And Canned Foods
Processed meats include hot dogs, salami, etc. consumption of large quantities of processed foods is associated with decreased sperm count and sperm motility. Canned foods contain bisphenol-A (BPA) which also exerts negative effect on sperm motility.
Trans Fatty Acid
Fast foods are source of trans fat which is found to play an important role in increasing the risk of heart disease. However, it is also found to adversely affect spermatogenesis and consequently the sperm count and decreased sperm motility in men. Similarly in women, intake of high amount of trans fatty acid also exerts negative effect on fertility by increasing the risk of ovulatory disturbances.
Few studies have found that consuming excessive soy might be associated with decrease sperm concentration. Soy products contain estrogen-like compounds from plants which might affect the sperm concentration.
Vegetables – Fruits With Chemicals & Pesticides
Pesticides are found in vegetables, fruits and even in meat and fish due to polluted water. Similar to soy products, pesticides also secrete chemicals that mimics estrogen which might decrease the sperm count.
Consuming high-fat dairy products like whole milk, cream and cheese are found to be associated with decreased sperm motility and abnormal sperm shape. This might be associated with cows and buffalos receiving sex steroids which are secreted in milk. Contrary to that in women, consuming high fat dairy products may have a positive impact on fertility. All the hormones in the body are made from fat and cholesterol. So, consuming low fat dairy products do not provide sufficient building blocks for hormones which might lead to ovulatory disorders.
In men, daily consumption of alcohol leads to increased DNA fragmentation. It also has adverse effect on semen volume and sperm morphology. All these factors collectively have negative effect on fertilization. Alcohol decreases the liver’s ability to metabolize hormones. So in women, consumption of alcohol leads to hormonal imbalance and consecutively to ovulatory disorders.
Excessive intake of red meat may adversely affect the sperm quality. Also, it has been found that women who consume more red meat are found to have more risk of ovulatory disorders. Although direct association of adverse effect of consumption of meat on fertility has not been found. But women whose source of iron is primarily vegetables are found to have less ovulatory disorders.
Consuming foods rich in sugar have numerous known adverse effects like weight gain which itself is a high risk for chronic diseases like diabetes mellitus, hypertension. Similarly, it is associated with adverse effect on fertility as in women it might lead to hormonal disorders and in men it might be associated with decreased sperm motility.
It is also very important for both partners to have optimum weight. Body mass index of 18-25 is associated with positive impact on fertility. Both high and low BMI is associated with irregular periods and hormonal disturbances in women affecting fertility. Although more scientific studies are needed to prove the relation between food and infertility, few studies support that consuming above foods have adverse effect on fertility and couples who are planning for pregnancy should avoid these in their daily diet and make all possible effort to maintain optimum weight for better outcome.
Also Read: Dealing With And Overcoming Infertility The Right Way
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