IISPV'S News - Monday, 13 de March de 2017


Nowadays, there are many assisted reproductive clinics that recommend simple lifestyle changes such as increases in physical activity, cognitive behavioral therapy and yoga to reduce stress, give advice on how to reduce alcohol and caffeine intake or provide lists of dietary recommendations in order to improve sperm quality and fertility chances. Nonetheless, there is a lack of a proven scientific evidence on the role of diet in sperm parameters.

Researchers at the Human Nutrition Unit of the Rovira i Virgili University (URV) and the Institut d'Investigació Sanitària Pere i Virgili (IISPV), and part of the CiberObn net of the Instituto Carlos III, have conducted the first systematic review of all observational studies investigating the relationships of diet, food and nutrient consumption related to sperm quality and male fecundability.

The results indicated that healthy diets rich in some nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, some antioxidants (vitamin E, vitamin C, β-carotene, selenium, zinc, cryptoxanthin and lycopene), other vitamins (vitamin D and folate) and low saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids were inversely associated with low sperm quality parameters. Fish, shellfish and seafood, poultry, cereals, vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy and skimmed milk were positively associated with several sperm quality parameters. However, diets rich in processed meat, soy foods, potatoes, full-fat dairy and total dairy products, cheese, coffee, alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets have been detrimentally associated with the quality of sperm in some studies. As far as fecundability is concerned, a high intake of alcohol, caffeine and red meat and processed meat by males has a negative influence on the chance of pregnancy or fertilization rates in their partners.

According to the researchers, this work has helped to provide a global overview of the existing research of high quality that links diet and the consumption of different foods and nutrients with male fertility and fecundability in order that in the future, dietary recommendations can be made safely and effective.

These results underline that a male adherence to a healthy diet, e.g. the Mediterranean diet, could improve significantly the sperm quality and fecundability rates of the couples.

The results of this study, conducted by Dr. Albert Salas-Huetos, Postdoctoral Researcher, Dra. Mònica Bulló, Associate Professor, and lead by Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvado, Professor and Director of the Human Nutrition Unit of the URV have been published in the prestigious scientific journal Human Reproduction Update in March 2017. It is the highest impact journal and the most cited of the Human Reproduction and Gynecology and Obstetrics areas.

Reference: Salas-Huetos A, Bulló M, Salas-Salvadó J. Dietary patterns, foods and nutrients in male fertility parameters and fecundability: a systematic review of observational studies. Hum Reprod Update, 2017; In Press. DOI: doi:10.1093/humupd/dmx006

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