It ought to be easy to get pregnant, right? After all, most people spend their teens and most of their twenties doing everything they can to prevent it. Young people are more afraid of inappropriately getting pregnant than just about anything else. But in reality once they start trying to conceive, approximately 25 percent of couples are having trouble.1,2 The human reproductive system is prolific under ideal circumstances, but it is also fragile, and a lot can go wrong.
The goal of this article is to explain the basics of male fertility and describe what can disrupt it, and then to present some simple ways to improve health and regain that fertility. Three very important factors are improving nutrition, reducing toxic exposures and lowering stress levels. After just a few months of diligent efforts in making these changes, couples often achieve pregnancy even after having tried unsuccessfully for a year or more. Though the focus of this article is male fertility, these factors apply to the health and fertility of women as well as men.
Fertility for a man is defined as the ability to impregnate a woman and produce offspring.
Then what is infertility? A couple is considered infertile if they have not conceived after one year of frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse (if the woman is under age thirty-five). When older than thirty-five, this diagnosis is given after six months, as fertility declines significantly in women after this age.
When a couple has trouble conceiving, it is usually the woman who is blamed. But in reality, half the time the man has a problem. When couples undergo medical workups, 40 percent of the time the problem can be attributed to the woman, 40 percent of the time to the man, 10 percent of the time to both and the other 10 percent no specific problem can be identified. A couple must be considered as a unit, and both need to investigate the cause of infertility until the problem or problems are uncovered or resolved.
Reproduction is an expendable biologic function to the human body, in fact to all living systems. If a person is barely healthy, why would the body want to conceive, grow and bring another life into the world? So it should be no surprise that the best way to be fertile and have a healthy baby is to have vibrant health. By putting the focus on health, fertility problems often resolve themselves.
Many health problems, and the medications used to treat them, can affect a man’s fertility. The most common are endocrine disorders (diabetes, thyroid, adrenal), high blood pressure, heart disease, liver or kidney disease, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, cancer treatments, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, celiac disease and many more. No medication taken for these conditions, over-the-counter or prescription, should be considered safe.3 All medications should be discussed with the prescribing physician from the point of view of health, fertility and effects on the fetus. If the man has a medical condition, it is important to consider it as part of improving health and fertility.
CAUSES OF INFERTILITY
The most common cause of infertility in men is abnormal sperm, accounting for 90 percent of cases. The other 10 percent includes trauma to the anatomy, varicocele, immune factors, sexual dysfunction and other less common problems. But 25-40 percent of the time no specific reason can be found.
How is sperm tested to determine whether it is abnormal? The man must provide a sample of his ejaculate and it is sent for semen analysis. This analysis evaluates the sperm count (normal is greater than twenty million), sperm motility and shape, and semen volume. At least two different samples should be examined one month apart, and three are best. Sperm varies from day to day, and one test is not enough. In reality, looking at sperm under the microscope is not a very accurate way to assess their ability to fertilize an egg, but it is the best test currently available.
Today’s high infertility rates are exacerbated by the fact that many couples delay having children, and are trying to conceive when their fertility is declining. The top reasons given for this delay are the desire to focus on careers and an inability to afford a child. Unfortunately, decisions to delay often ignore the realities of age and reproduction.
It is true that men can remain fertile until old age and have fathered children into their eighties. But the fact is that sperm counts do decline with age. This is more likely to affect fertility if counts were below normal for a particular man when young.
Research shows that the risk of fathering a child with health problems increases after age forty. The cut-off age for donating sperm is thirty-five years. Older age of the father has been associated with several congenital disorders (such as a cleft lip or palate), higher rates of schizophrenia and autism and decreased intellectual capacity in offspring.4
Age is often associated with a decrease in sexual function for men. Typically, men find it more difficult to get and maintain an erection, erections are less hard, ejaculatory force decreases, and it takes longer between ejaculation and the ability to obtain another erection. It is believed that these changes affect fertility only indirectly, as when the sexual dysfunction results in a decrease in sexual activity or if the man has marginal fertility for other reasons.
If a man is under forty and has no obvious medical problems, then he should begin by focusing on achieving vibrant health. If he is basically healthy and already eats fairly well, it may take three to six months to see changes. If he has a poor diet, high stress levels and has been exposed to many toxins, it may take twelve months to two years to recover adequate health to be fertile. Do not be in a hurry; the healthier a man is at the time of conception, the healthier the child will be.
If a man is over forty, he should focus on his health, and at the same time get help from a qualified medical practitioner. A team approach may include a primary care doctor, a fertility specialist, a holistic physician, an acupuncturist, an herbalist, and others.
Most doctors who work in the current medical system have little understanding of how to support health or how to identify and treat the true causes of health problems. The primary care doctor will probably do a history and physical exam, lab tests and a semen analysis. This is a good place to start. Family practice training does not include fertility treatment, so the man may have to insist on a referral to a fertility specialist. Typical treatments that are available at fertility clinics include drugs, artificial insemination or some type of in vitro fertilization (IVF). These are necessary and appropriate in only a small percentage of patients, yet are often used for all patients because they have nothing else to offer. When truly needed, thank goodness for modern medical technology.
A very important female factor that can prevent even the healthiest couple from conceiving is the timing of intercourse. To get pregnant a couple must have sex when the woman is fertile. Though it seems obvious, this can be the main reason couples are unsuccessful. Most women do not actually understand their reproductive cycles, and certainly the man cannot be expected to know this for her. In a study of women actively trying to get pregnant, only 13 percent could correctly identify their fertile days.5
There are typically six days during any one particular cycle when a woman is most fertile. These days are known as her “fertile window.” They are the five days before and the day of ovulation, when the egg is released. Miraculously, the sperm is kept alive within the woman’s body for these days. The couple needs to have sexual intercourse during this time. All bets are off if this is not understood; timing can be everything. The online course “Your Fertile Window” from MyPregnancyExpert.com can help women understand how to identify their fertile days and how their own individual menstrual cycles compare to normal.
Couples should have sexual intercourse every day during the woman’s six most fertile days if the man has normal sperm counts. If counts are low, then have sex every other day. In addition, cover your bases by having sex two to three times a week all month, as it is not known exactly when the woman will ovulate. Research shows that an extended period of sexual excitement will increase the amount of sperm present in the ejaculate. Also, men who ejaculate frequently have been shown to have higher sperm counts and healthier sperm. And this does not have to be from intercourse.
The foods you eat provide the nutrients that are critical for your health and fertility, as well as your child’s lifelong health. To obtain these nutrients, eat a variety of whole, real, fresh foods drawing from the examples given for each nutrient. Eating the empty calories of processed foods may satisfy hunger and provide misguided pleasure but will not provide what the body needs. Nor will a synthetic vitamin pill.
The body has specific nutrient needs for its biological functions, including fertility and reproduction. First, macronutrients are required—fats, carbohydrates and protein. Then there are essential vitamins and minerals (known as micronutrients), cholesterol and fiber. Additionally, thousands of biologically active compounds are present in whole foods. These include phytonutrients, enzymes, cofactors, antioxidants, and more.
Every food provides its own unique combination of nutrients. A single food is likely to contain fat, protein and carbohydrates plus several vitamins and minerals. The particular combination in that food is what makes it unique.
Plant toxins are chemicals produced by plants to defend themselves. They include phytates, protease inhibitors, goitrogens, oxalic acid, lectins, saponins and phytoestrogens, among others. These toxins make foods more difficult to digest and interfere with the absorption of nutrients. They are present in highest amounts in seed foods, which include grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Deactivating these toxins is aided by soaking, sprouting or fermenting these foods. Cooking also helps.
Soy in particular should be avoided, as its estrogenic properties can unbalance hormones. A small amount of fermented soy, such as natto or miso is fine. Prisoners forced to eat large amounts of soy foods refer to this as “chemical castration.”
Variety is the spice of life. It is very important to eat a diverse selection of different plant foods. This will help prevent too much exposure to the toxins in a particular plant. Also, each plant has a different complement of nutrients (known and unknown) to offer.
All animal foods should come from healthy animals eating their natural diet. These animals provide foods with higher levels of nutrients. Grazing animals should be on rich pastures with nutrient-rich soil. Pigs should have sunshine and be allowed to forage. Chickens and ducks need access to greens and bugs. And animals from the sea should be wild with free access to their natural habitat. Avoid foods from animals that have been given hormones, antibiotics or other harmful chemicals.
It is very difficult to get enough nutrients as a vegetarian, especially enough of the fat-soluble vitamins and B12. To get these nutrients, eat eggs, butter or ghee and raw whole dairy products every day. It is critically important to prepare seed foods properly (grains, legumes, nuts and seeds) to get as much nutrition from them as possible. Equally important is avoiding all processed and refined foods that offer only empty calories devoid of nutrition.
Reconsider the choice to eat this way, especially if you are struggling with health or fertility issues. Realize that many animals are killed in modern agricultural production of plant foods. If you choose animals raised as described above, they live a good life, contributing to the health of a farm or ecosystem.
A vegan diet that avoids all animal products will not provide adequate nutrition for healthy reproduction and a healthy child. Children are almost guaranteed to have health consequences related to inadequate vitamins A, D, K2 and B12. The research of Dr. Weston Price revealed no vibrantly healthy people eating only plant foods.9 Many groups of people who at first appeared to eat only plants actually included insects in their diet. Insects are a rich source of the critically important fat-soluble vitamins.
Avoid synthetic, isolated vitamin supplements. They cannot replace foods in the diet, and may actually be dangerous.10 There may be benefits in individual situations for supplementing with minimally processed concentrated whole food supplements. Examples include cod liver oil, high vitamin butter oil, wheat germ oil, seaweeds, zinc and probiotics. Ideally, a qualified health practitioner will help make recommendations.
There are many herbs that may be helpful. It is best to work with a knowledgeable herbalist who understands your individual situation. It is important to have guidance in choosing high-quality herbal products made from the appropriate part of the plant in a way that preserves the active ingredients. It is also very important to use a clinically relevant dose.
This article does not attempt to address the very important subject of having a healthy whole body microbiome. Become educated on this subject. The diet should include lacto-fermented foods and bone broth to support healthy microorganisms in the gut. The health of the gut also affects the ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Every day new evidence reveals the importance of a healthy gut for all
Many substances that men are commonly exposed to are toxic to health and especially fertility. These chemicals are often directly toxic to sperm. They also can interfere with the delicate balance of hormones in the body. These chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors.
Recreational drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamines and the many designer drugs so easily available today should be completely avoided. Alcohol and cigarettes are associated with increased numbers of abnormal sperm.11 Cigarettes are also associated with less ejaculate. The toxicity of cigarettes is aggravated by the many chemicals they contain, including the heavy metals cadmium and lead.
Caffeine leads to adrenal exhaustion, which can adversely affect fertility. No safe level of caffeine has been documented, and sodas are even worse than coffee and tea. Caffeine may also be present in medications, such as over-the-counter headache and cold pills.
Chemical exposure comes from treated water (chlorine, fluoride and more), plastics in many forms, non-stick pans, aluminum cookware, new carpet, paint, upholstery, cleaning products and personal care products. Landscapers, contractors, manufacturing workers and men who have regular contact with environmental toxins are all at risk for infertility. Common exposures are pesticides, herbicides, solvents, heavy metals, radiation and heat.3
Sexual lubricants, douching products and vaginal deodorants should also be avoided, as they can interfere with fertility.12 These can be directly toxic to sperm, or may contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
A very important toxin to male fertility is radiation. The dose is cumulative, adding up from all exposures of a lifetime. X-rays and CT scans are the most obvious source of radiation. Exposure also comes from airport scanners and the naturally occurring radiation from high elevation air travel. There are increasing levels of background radiation from worldwide nuclear accidents. And perhaps worst of all is electromagnetic field exposures (EMF). This comes from computers, cell phones, wi-fi, cordless phones and common electronics such as an alarm clock.
Modern inventions that expose us to radiation have become such a seemingly necessary part of daily life. What can be done to lower this exposure? Start simple. Do not put a laptop computer in your lap and do not put a cell phone in your hip pocket. Use your phone on speaker or with a headset. Turn off your phone, computer and wi-fi at night, and get a battery clock for your bedside. When you fly, opt out of the scanner and leave time for a pat-down. If you travel frequently, get approved for pre-check so you only go through a metal detector.
Stress is estimated to play a role in up to 30 percent of infertility problems. Men reporting higher levels of stress are less fertile, and research documents depressed testosterone levels and lowered sperm counts.13 The body uses up vitamin A to produce stress hormones and may have little left over for the production of sex hormones. Stress causes physiological responses, affecting the heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, digestion, the immune system and reproduction. The breaking point is very individual, so it is wise to watch for signs and symptoms that indicate stress is taking a toll on your health. These include headaches, indigestion, abdominal pain, insomnia, anxiety, depression, poor memory, cloudy thinking, criticizing others, moodiness, addictive behaviors and decreased interest in sex.
It is critically important to find a way to lower and manage stress. Change the situation, reprioritize, do less, or simply change your attitude. Take time for quiet and relaxation, and do something that brings pleasure. Some people benefit from learning specific relaxation techniques, practicing yoga, tai chi or qi gong. Remembering to take time to acknowledge that you are a spiritual being may be the key for some. Also consider meditation, imagery, affirmations, prayer and counseling. Most importantly, remember that your nutritional requirements increase during periods of stress, so a focus on nutrient-dense foods is paramount.
Do whatever it takes to lower your feeling of stress. Stress is not good for health, and particularly not good for fertility. The body does not distinguish between physical or psychological stress. Too much stress is a clear signal to the body that making a baby is a really bad idea.
There are a few more important factors to consider that can affect fertility.
Keep your testicles cool. Testicles hang outside the body for a reason. Sperm are damaged by higher temperatures. For healthy sperm men should avoid all of the following: hot tubs, saunas, long baths, tight shorts or underwear, using a laptop computer on the lap, keeping a cell phone in the pocket, and sitting or cycling for long periods of time.
Maintain a healthy weight. Both overweight and underweight can affect fertility. Exercise appropriately. Exercising excessively and being in poor physical condition are both associated with decreased fertility.
Sleep is a cornerstone of good health. Research shows that seven to ten hours per night are needed. Two things that help optimize your sleep sanctuary are to avoid artificial lights and electronics. Waking up feeling rested and rejuvenated is normal. If this is not your experience, something needs to be done about it.
Sunlight is very important for vibrant health and fertility. Sunlight on the skin is necessary for the body to make vitamin D. It helps to regulate the inner circadian clock, which plays a crucial role in almost every physiological process, including reproduction.14 Getting to sleep by ten to eleven o’clock in the evening helps the body stay in sync with this rhythm. Sunlight helps provide energy for the circulatory system, which is important for all aspects of health. Stay in the sun until the skin turns the lightest shade of pink. Do not sunburn, as it is damaging to the skin, but develop a tan gradually.
The goal of this information is to help you have a happy, healthy baby in your arms. If you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, or if you have abnormal sperm or hormone imbalances, this information has the potential to solve these problems. Begin with an honest self-evaluation of your current level of health and commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Is there room for improvement? Are you under the age of forty? If both are true, begin applying this information immediately, and give it some time to see benefits.
If you are forty or older, have significant medical issues, or if you live an exemplary life and still have no baby, then you likely need more help. Definitely eat well, make healthy lifestyle choices, and begin to build your team. This may include your primary care doctor, a fertility expert, a holistic physician, and other practitioners of your choice who can help you obtain vibrant health and fertility. Start today.
MACRONUTRIENTS FOR FERTILITY: FATS, CARBOHYDRATES AND PROTEINS
High-quality fat, carboydrate and protein are all needed for fertility.
FATS, particularly saturated animal fats, are critical for the production of testosterone and other hormones. These fats also regulate the immune system, protect against inflammation, support cell membrane structure, help assimilate nutrients, and serve as a back-up source of energy (after carbohydrates). Approximately 55 percent of daily calories should come from fat, mostly animal fat. For a male eating 2500-3000 calories per day, this translates to about ten tablespoons of fat per day. Remember that fat occurs naturally in many foods and added ones should be flavorful and highly nutritious fats. Sources of animal fats include meats, egg yolks, butter, ghee, whole milk dairy products, bacon, duck and goose fat, cheese, seafood and fish liver oils. Good-quality fats from plant sources include coconut oil, olive oil and palm oil. Avoid all industrially processed fats and oils including margarine, tub spreads, shortenings, cooking oils, fried foods and foods containing these dangerous modern fats and oils. All polyunsaturated oils should be kept to a minimum of less than 4 percent of total calories, with a good balance of omega-3 to omega-6.
CARBOHYDRATES’ main functions are as a source of energy for the body and as storage for future energy needs. Current thinking among some athletes and fitness fans is that we don’t need carbohydrates in the diet. But carbs are essential for sperm production, passing DNA to offspring, thyroid function, cell structure, immune function and digestion. Approximately 30 percent of daily calories should come from carbohydrate foods including vegetables, roots, tubers, legumes, properly prepared grains, fruit and small amounts of natural sweeteners. Avoid all refined carbs, such as white sugar, high fructose corn syrup and white flour.
PROTEINS are used by the body for making hormones, structural growth and repair, for the chromosomes that pass DNA to the child, and as a back-up source of energy (after carbohydrates and fat). About 15 percent of daily calories should come from proteins. Amounts above 20 percent are unhealthy and have been shown to be associated with kidney disease, and increased cardiovascular and cancer mortality.6 Proteins are needed every day and cannot be stored. Food sources of proteins from animals include meat, seafood, eggs and dairy. These contain all of the essential amino acids (called a “complete” protein) and are easily digested. Good-quality red meat (with the fat), organ meats, whole raw dairy foods, fish and shellfish should be included in the diet with every meal. Proteins from plant foods must be properly combined and eaten in the same day to provide the full complement of amino acids. Avoid all protein powders—these are highly refined and contain damaged amino acids. They can also rapidly deplete vitamin A.
MINERALS FOR FERTILITY
The macro minerals are those needed in large amounts. These include calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus,
potassium, sodium, and sulfur. The trace minerals are needed in very small amounts. Those known to be critical for fertility include cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc.
Minerals are essential for many aspects of male fertility, for hormones, to prevent birth defects, and for growth, maintenance and repair. Minerals are depleted by drugs, coffee, alcohol, sodas, sugar, stress and heavy metals. For plants to be a good source of minerals, they must be grown in mineral-rich soils. For animal products to be a good source, the animals must be raised on mineral-rich soils. This is an excellent example of how the health of the entire ecosystem is important.
Key sources of minerals include organ meats, red meat, seafood, egg yolks and raw dairy products. Dark green vegetables, seaweeds, nuts, seeds and grains are good plant sources of minerals.
When low, zinc is often a limiting factor for male fertility, and the best source is oysters, with all shellfish being good as well as beef, liver and poultry. Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium. Unrefined salt is an important source of sodium and chloride, as well as small amounts of many other minerals.
VITAMINS FOR FERTILITY
VITAMIN A is critical for the formation of hormones, including all the sex and stress hormones. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin A is 3,000 IU per day, but Weston Price found that healthy primitive cultures consumed many times more of this important vitamin.7 The vitamin A complex is depleted by stress, infection, alcohol, drugs and other toxins. Beta-carotene found in plant foods is not the same as vitamin A. Only about three percent is converted to a form of vitamin A, and 45 percent of adults cannot convert any. Food sources of vitamin A include liver and other organ meats, fish and shellfish, cheese, fish eggs, egg yolks, butter and cream. Fish liver oil (such as cod liver oil) is a whole food supplement high in vitamin A if properly processed.
VITAMIN D is another fat-soluble vitamin that is key for reproduction. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU per day, but Weston Price found much higher levels in the diets of healthy primitive peoples. Vitamin D is depleted by drugs, stress and calcium deficiency. An excellent source of vitamin D is from the UV-B portion of sunlight shining on the skin. It is essential to spend time in the sunshine on a regular basis and expose as much of the body as possible until the skin turns the lightest shade of pink. Do not sunburn, as it is damaging to the skin and you will not make any more vitamin D. Sunscreen blocks this the production of vitamin D. Food sources of vitamin D include oily fish, shellfish, cheese, fish eggs, egg yolks, butter, cream, salami (beef and pork), bacon and lard. Fish liver oil (such as cod liver oil) is a whole food supplement high in many of the different forms of vitamin D if properly processed. Beware of brands that add synthetic vitamin D.
VITAMIN E complex is critical for the reproductive hormones to function properly, for fertility, and to prevent birth defects. It is depleted by alcohol, tobacco and high amounts of polyunsaturated oils. The RDA for vitamin E is 22 IU per day, but the amount in the diet of healthy people is 400-800 IU per day. Vitamin E is a group of compounds that includes four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Excellent food sources of vitamin E include nuts and seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, shellfish, fish, animal fats, butter, avocado and grains (only if freshly milled). Wheat germ oil is a whole food supplement high in vitamin E. It must come from a trusted high quality source, be stored properly, and used quickly. Rancid vegetable oils quickly deplete vitamin E.
VITAMIN K2 (menoquinone), the animal form of vitamin K1, is another nutrient absolutely critical for reproductive health. Vitamin K2 activates proteins and helps place calcium where it belongs, in the bones and teeth (and not the soft tissues). Animal food sources include poultry fat and liver, fish eggs, butter, cheese, egg yolks, and pork fat. It is also found in certain fermented foods, such as natto, a traditional Japanese food made by fermenting soybeans. Almost all forms of vitamin K2 are produced by bacteria in the human gut.8 The plant form of vitamin K is K1 (phylloquinone); it is found in leafy greens and is needed for blood clotting.
VITAMIN B COMPLEX includes nine separate water-soluble vitamins: B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B4 (choline), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate) and B12 (methylcobalamin). They play important roles in cell metabolism, including reproductive health and fetal development. Each functions as a cofactor in metabolic processes or is a precursor needed to make a cofactor. For example, vitamin B9 is needed for DNA and for aiding the rapid cell division required for sperm production and pregnancy. Vitamin B12 is needed in the metabolism of every cell in the human body. B12 is found only in animal products, and B6 is mostly in animal products. The B vitamins are sensitive to heat. Food sources for the vitamin B complex include liver and other organ meats, fish and shellfish, fish eggs, egg yolks, raw dairy products, meats, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, fruit, vegetables and seaweeds. Nutritional yeast contains many B vitamins but should come from a high-quality source and not be fortified.
VITAMIN C COMPLEX includes ascorbic acid, dehydroascorbic acid, calcium ascorbate, sodium ascorbate and other
salts of ascorbic acid, rutin, bioflavonoids, factors K, J, P, tyrosinase, ascorbinogen, and mineral cofactors. This list clearly highlights the inadequacy of taking a supplement containing only the ascorbic acid portion of this vitamin complex. The vitamin C complex is a cofactor in many enzymatic reactions, including collagen synthesis. Collagen plays a key role in a man being able to maintain an erection. Vitamin C is required in many essential metabolic reactions and is an antioxidant. It is sensitive to heat and storage. Food sources of vitamin C include fruits (acerola cherries, wild rose hips, guava, kiwi, strawberries, oranges, and papaya), vegetables (peppers, parsley and cilantro), berries, organ meats and raw whole milk dairy.
SUPER FERTILITY FOODS
Many cultures valued certain “superfoods” for fertility, and consumed them in preparation for marriage and reproduction. Fertility foods from around the world include:
FISH EGGS: Rich in fat-soluble vitamins, zinc, iodine and special fatty acids, fish eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition and should be consumed by both men and women to increase fertility and build nutritional stores.
LIVER is our best source of vitamin A, as well as many other key nutrients like iron, zinc, B12 and B6. Poultry liver has the best balance of vitamins A, D and K2.
OYSTERS are one of the best sources of zinc—along with iodine, B12 and fat-soluble vitamins. Men throughout the world consume oysters for sexual prowess and fertility.
BUTTER is the fat found in nature for growth; it contains many factors that boost fertility. The best butter comes from cows eating rapidly growing green grass in the spring and fall. For maximum fertility, men should consume at least four tablespoons per day of butter from pasture-raised cows.
EGG YOLKS are rich in vitamin D and many other nutrients—they are the fertility part of the egg and should be part of any fertility diet. Best are egg yolks from pasture-raised hens.
COD LIVER OIL is a great supplement to supply vitamins A and D, and also special fatty acids like DHA. Use only cod liver oil that has not been heated to high temperatures and that contains only natural vitamins.
RAW DAIRY PRODUCTS: In early studies, pasteurized milk caused infertility in rats while raw milk restored fertility.
WHAT TO DO FOR MALE FERTILITY
• Aspire to vibrant health
• Have children before age forty if possible
• Know what days of each cycle the woman is fertile (her “fertile window”)
• Eat a healthy Nourishing Traditions diet high in foods that provide nutrients needed for fertility
• Keep the body as free of toxic exposures as possible
• Keep the testicles cool
• Exercise moderately
• Get sunlight exposure
• Sleep enough
• Be relaxed and happy
WHAT TO AVOID (OR RISK POOR HEALTH AND INFERTILITY)
• Refined and artificial sweeteners
• Refined grains
• Commercial vegetable oils
• Trans fats
• Unhealthy animal products
• Genetically modified foods (GMOs)
• Soy products
• Food additives (preservatives, colorings, flavor enhancers such as MSG, etc.)
• Microwaved or irradiated food
• EMF (Electromagnetic fields) exposure—phone, computer, wi-fi
• Chemical toxins
• High stress levels
EVALUATE YOUR DIET
How do you know whether you are getting the nutrients you need to have vibrant health and be fertile? Start by eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Occasionally put your food for the day into an online nutrient tracker to see how you are doing. This information can be used to fine-tune your diet. Look at the balance of fats, carbohydrates and protein. Review the nutrient intake report and see whether you are getting adequate amounts of each vitamin and mineral. Then compare your results with the guidelines provided in this article. Seeing a shortfall can guide and motivate you to make changes for the better. Recommended websites for tracking nutrients are supertracker.usda.gov/ and nutritiondata.self.com/
A NOTE OF CAUTION
The information in this article is not necessarily in alignment with the current USDA Dietary Guidelines. However, these nutrient trackers are. The recommended amounts of fats (and types of fats), carbohydrates, proteins and salt differ. Saturated fat is still considered to have no nutritional value. Also, these trackers assume a 5 percent conversion of betacarotene to vitamin A when calculating vitamin A nutrient intake. As discussed above, it is possible that an individual does not convert any at all. Keep this in mind when using one of these nutrient evaluation tools.
1. Thoma, PhD, Marie E, et al. “The prevalence of infertility in the United States as estimated by the current duration approach and a traditional constructed approach.” Fertil Steril 2013 Apr; 99(5): 1324–1331.
2. Slama R1, et al. “Estimation of the frequency of involuntary infertility on a nation-wide basis.” Hum Reprod 2012 May; 27(5):1489-1498.
3. Mortimer, D., et al. “What should it take to describe a substance or product as spermsafe.” Human Reproduction Update 2013; Vol.19, supp I pp. i1-i48.
4. Reichenberg A, et al. “Advancing paternal age and autism.” Arch Gen Psychiatry 2006; 63(9):1026-1032. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.63.9.1026.
5. Hampton, K., et al. “Fertility-awareness knowledge, attitudes, and practices of women seeking fertility assistance.” Journal of Advanced Nursing 69(5), 1076-1084.
6. Trichopoulou, A., et al. “Low-carbohydrate–high-protein diet and long-term survival in a general population cohort.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 61.5 (2007):575-581.
7. Fallon, S and Enig, M. “Vitamin A Saga.” Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2001.
8. Conly JM, et al. “The contribution of vitamin K2 (menaquinones) produced by the intestinal microflora to human nutritional requirements for vitamin K.” Am J Gastroenterol 1994; 89:915-923.
9. WA Price. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Keats Publishing; CT, 1989, 256-281.
10. Vivekananthan, MD, Deepak P, et al. “Use of antioxidant vitamins for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: meta-analysis of randomized trials.” The Lancet 361. 9374 (2003): 2017–2023.
11. Joo, KJ, et al. “The effects of smoking and alcohol intake on sperm quality: light and transmission electron microscopy findings.” J Int Med Res 2012; 40: 2327-2335.
12. Anderson, L et al. “The effects of coital lubricants on sperm motility in vitro” Hum Reprod 1998; 13:3351–3356.
13. Giblin PT, et al. “Effect of stress and characteristic adaptability on semen quality in healthy men.” Fertil Steril 1988; 49, 127–132.
14. Richards J, Gumz ML. “Mechanism of the circadian clock in physiology.” Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 304: R1053–R1064, 2013.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2016.