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Healthier Diet, Stronger Sperm?
Date:10/17/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- For years, nutritionists have rallied around the notion that "you are what you eat."

Now, new research suggests this adage might even extend to the strength and quantity of sperm.

The observation stems from a pair of studies slated for presentation Monday at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., both of which highlight an apparent linkage between nutrition and semen quality.

The upshot: Diets rich in red meat and processed grains seem to impair the ability of sperm to move about, while diets high in trans fats appear to lower the amount of sperm found in semen.

"The main overall finding of our work is that a healthy diet seems to be beneficial for semen quality," said Audrey J. Gaskins, lead author of the first study. Currently a doctoral candidate in Harvard School of Public Health's department of nutrition in Boston, Gaskins' colleagues included researchers from both the University of Rochester and the University of Murcia in Spain.

"Specifically, a healthy diet composed of a higher intake of fish, fresh fruit, whole grains, legumes and vegetables seems to improve sperm motility," Gaskins explained, "which means a higher number of sperm actually move around, rather than sit still."

Gaskin's conclusions are based on work with 188 men between the ages of 18 and 22, who were recruited in Rochester. Food questionnaires were completed, and participant diets were categorized as being either "Western" in content (including red meat, refined carbs, sweets and energy drinks) or so-called "Prudent" (composed of fish, fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains).

Semen tests were then conducted to assess sperm movement, concentration and shape.

Although diet seemed to have no impact on either sperm shape or number, motility was impacted, with "Western" diets linked to reduced mov
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