Many couples experience trouble conceiving these days. Among the various reasons behind the difficulty, one of them lies in the quality of the sperm.
Sperm quality can be affected and determined by daily nutrition. Poor nutrition is a contributing factor for poor sperm quality. It is also a sign of male infertility that you should watch out for.
Vegetable and fruit consumption can help increase sperm quality, as both vegetables and fruits contain vitamins, folate, zinc, and most importantly, lycopene.
However, if consuming vegetables and fruits still does not seem to improve your sperm quality, make sure you consult with a urologist sub-specialising in the male reproductive system.
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What is Lycopene?
Lycopene belongs to the group of carotenoid hydrocarbons. It is part of the yellow, orange, or red pigments and is usually found in various types of plants, vegetables, and fruits.
Lycopene is known for its richness in antioxidants, which can be useful to fight off free radicals and to prevent multiple risks of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
Studies show that men who regularly consume food containing lycopene will be more likely to have improved sperm quality. The improved sperm quality can be indicated by reduced infertility symptoms, which include watery sperm, low sperm volume, as well as discolored sperm.
Since lycopene is a natural antioxidant, it can boost the overall sperm cells’ health. You can get the benefits of lycopene by consuming tomatoes, carrots, watermelons, and papaya.
Sperm quality and quantity are not only determined by what you eat, but also by how you live.
Improving sperm quality can be done through leading a healthy lifestyle. Reducing stress levels, maintaining an ideal body weight, saying no to cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs – these are among the ways to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
How Lycopene Helps Prevent Male Infertility
There are many nutrient-rich foods out there, and lycopene is one that can also help keep free radicals away. It is a carotenoid compound with the potential of being a natural antioxidant.
Lycopene is relatively easy to find. From tomatoes, guavas, carrots, watermelons, to apricots – you can find lycopene in these types of foods you see every day.
Higher levels of lycopene are usually found in bright-colored vegetables and fruits.
Your body will absorb about 20% to 30% of the overall lycopene intake. Lycopene will then be distributed to several parts of the body, including the testicles.
The testicles are where sperm production occurs. An adequate amount of lycopene will affect the quality of sperm produced.
Other Benefits of Lycopene
In addition to improving sperm quality, lycopene also offers many other health benefits including:
- Prevent cancer — Lycopene can help prevent or slow the growth of several types of cancer, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, and tumor growth. This is because lycopene is considered a powerful antioxidant. Therefore, you need to consume a high intake of carotenoids to lower cancer risk
- Prevent asthma — Consuming lycopene daily can prevent asthma and maintain lung health. However, this benefit still requires further research.
- Prevent heart disease — Lycopene helps lower the risk of heart disease, reduce the dangerous effects of free radicals, lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), and increase levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). High levels of lycopene can also help people with metabolic syndrome that also suffer from a group of health problems that triggers heart disease.
- Maintain bone health — The antioxidant in lycopene helps the body to fight off the damage in the bone cells – which could lead to the risk of brittle and porous bones. Besides preventing bone loss, lycopene also helps maintain bone growth and bone density
- Prevent sunburn — Apart from applying sunscreen to protect you from the dangers of ultraviolet (UV) and prevent premature skin aging, antioxidants in lycopene can reduce skin damage and help the process of skin regeneration as a result from sunburn.
- Maintain your vision — Lycopene can prevent cataracts and reduce the risk of macular degeneration – a common cause of blindness that is mostly suffered by adults or seniors.
- Reduce pain — Lycopene consumption can help relieve pain due to nerve or tissue damage (neuropathic pain).
- Maintain brain health — With its antioxidant properties, lycopene can help you prevent memory loss due to aging, for example, Alzheimer’s
Can Tomatoes Help Increase Fertility in Men?
According to BBC News, men who consume two tablespoons of concentrated tomato puree every day have better sperm quality compared to men who only consume supplements.
Tomatoes contain the highest amount of lycopene. The lycopene in tomatoes helps increase sperm motility, which refers to the ability of sperm to swim through to fertilize an egg. The other benefit is to lower the number of abnormally-shaped sperm.
In line with that, Simon Fishel, the founder of IVF clinics in Cambridgeshire, England, stated that lycopene has proved to improve sperm quality and reduce the number of damaged sperm.
Through a published study in the European Journal of Nutrition by Dr. Liz Williams, a specialist in human nutrition at the University of Sheffield – it is stated that it is key for men to reduce alcohol consumption and increase healthy food consumption.
Dr. Williams also advised that men should consume more lycopene to improve sperm quality before undergoing a fertility program.
Other Foods To Improve Sperm Quality
Besides lycopene, the following kinds of healthy foods are great alternatives to boost the quality of male sperm:
- Vitamin C — This vitamin is highly beneficial for improving sperm quality. Vitamin C can be found in oranges, strawberries, kiwis, tomatoes, broccoli vegetables, and potatoes. Vitamin C is also found in fortified milk and cereal products, which is an added micronutrient in foods, such as essential trace elements and vitamins.
- Vitamin D — It is believed that Vitamin D is good for improving both sperm quality and hormone testosterone in adult men. To get the most of Vitamin D benefits, it is recommended to consume fish, egg yolks, mushrooms, and dairy products
- Folic acid — This is a type of B complex vitamin that dissolves in water. It is recommended for you to consume food that contains folate or vitamin B9 for improving quality and quantity of sperm. Folic acid can be found in legumes, such as peanuts, soybeans, and green beans. In addition, vegetables such as spinach and broccoli also contain folic acid.
- Zinc — Your body requires mineral zinc intake. If you have zinc deficiency, you are at risk of having fertility problems. You can reap the benefits of zinc by consuming shellfish, lobsters, oysters, red meat, garlic, and many others.
If all the recommended foods mentioned above do not work to improve your sperm quality or resolve your fertility problem, it is advised that you consult a urologist for further examination and proper treatment.
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