Men, you may want to eat your greens.
A new study suggests that our society’s junk food-filled diet is causing sperm counts in men to plummet.
The research, published last week in the JAMA Network Open medical journal, found that a “Western” diet of processed foods, pizza and red meats was tied to lower sperm quality, while a healthier diet with more vegetables and fruit was linked to better sperm.
The study notes that semen quality has “decreased substantially” over the last few decades and that analysis of more than 185 other studies showed that total sperm count has declined by 50 to 60 percent from 1973 to 2011 in Western countries.
Semen quality has been on a decline since the 1940s, according to the study.
“Although debate is ongoing about the underlying causes for these declines, there is a growing concern and evidence that environmental exposures such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals and air pollution or behavioral factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption could explain this decline,” the study says.
The study goes on to say that “nutritional factors and eating habits are potential behavioral factors contributing to the secular decline in semen quality that have received comparatively little attention.”
The research notes that diet quality in the last 50 years in Western countries “has changed dramatically” with “a tendency toward higher intakes of total calories, meat, cheese, added fats and sugars, and refined grains.”
The study looked at 2,935 Danish men with an average age of 19 and a normal body mass index as well as their dietary patterns.
The four food patterns identified among the men included a Western diet, a generally healthy or “prudent” diet, a traditional Danish eating pattern and a vegetarian-like pattern.
“The greatest adherence to the prudent pattern was associated with the highest total sperm count,” followed by an “adherence” to the vegetarian-like and the traditional Danish eating pattern, the study said.
“Adherence to the Western pattern was associated with the lowest total sperm count,” the study said.