Creating a healthy baby takes two. There is increasing evidence showing that being a regular drinker and having poor eating habits can lower the quality and quantity of a man’s sperm. High intakes of soya have also been linked with reduced sperm quality and although evidence is patchy, experts say that if men with low sperm counts want to reduce their intake of soya products it wouldn’t do any harm. A man’s lifestyle can even affect birth weight, so it is important that dads-to-be are as healthy as possible. Also, if you both make changes together, such as cutting down on alcohol or fatty foods, it will be much easier. What’s more, research has shown time and again that children eat very much like their parents. So if you both get into the habit of eating a healthy balanced diet, there is a much better chance that your baby will too.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol. Stick within the daily limit of no more than 3-4 units daily (a pint and a half of 4% beer). Regularly drinking more than this can reduce fertility. The Danish study found that women drinking more than 10 units a week were more likely to miscarry, also found that if men drank more than this, the pregnancy was more likely to en in miscarriage, even taking into account the woman’s alcohol intake.
- Check that you are a healthy weight for your height. Having a BMI over 29 has been found to have even more significant negative effects on male fertility. It is ideal to have healthy weight (BMI 20-24). Sperm DNA fragmentation is higher in men with a BMI over 25 as this reduces the chance of pregnancy.
- If your caffeine intake is very high then it may be a good idea to cut down. Some research suggests caffeine makes sperm more likely, which could boost fertility, but other studies suggest high intakes reduce male fertility.
- Eat plenty of zinc-rich foods, including wholegrain cereal products such as baked beans, bran flakes, whole meal bread, and if you are not a vegetarian, beef, chicken and other meat. Zinc deficiency is linked to reduced testosterone levels and sperm quality.
- Boost your intake of folic acid and antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, by drinking orange juice and eating leafy green vegetables, beans and pulses. These nutrients are important for boosting sperm numbers and making them better swimmers.
- Talk to your doctor if you are taking prescription medication because some, such as certain drugs for hypertension, can affect fertility.