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17 September 2014
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Can diet improve the quality of sperm?

Over the past 50 years, sperm counts around the world have fallen from an average of 113 million sperm per ml to between 66 and 76 million. Scientists have suggested that male infertility is the leading cause of infertile couples.

A number of studies have shown that a good dietary intake of antioxidants and micronutrients is critically important for normal semen quality and reproductive function. Healthy men with a higher antioxidant intake from both diet and supplements are likely to have more sperm and their sperm will be more motile.

"antioxidants and micronutrients are important for semen quality"

We undertook an ambitious, ground-breaking experiment to determine whether changing diet could improve the numbers and quality of a man’s sperm. To add some jeopardy, and to make sure they would stick to the diet, we set them on the Great Sperm Race to see who’s sperm would cross the finishing line first.

Six sub-fertile men whose sperm counts were between 5-20million were put on a high nutrient smoothie diet to see if they could improve their levels of motility, morphology, sperm count and DNA fragmentation with the aim of reaching the 100% target.

Mid-way through the study, one couple had conceived and by the end there was a consistent improvement in the quality of all of the men’s sperm, especially in the sperm DNA levels.

Have a look at the smoothie recipes.

The tests were conducted by Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in Andrology and the diets were devised by Fiona Ford, research dietician, both from the University of Sheffield.

Suggested recipes from BBC Food

Fresh oysters with sauce pauvre homme

Steamed broccoli with lemon

Image: Andrew Syred/Science Photo Library

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