The Basic Guidelines of a Healthy, Pro-Fertility Diet for Men

DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN FOR ANY DISEASE OR INJURY.

Not only women benefit from following a healthy diet when trying to conceive; both men and women can benefit from eating healthfully when it comes to fertility. The benefits of a healthy diet are somewhat obvious for women (the woman will carry and directly nourish a growing fetus, so of course diet is important in her case), but a lot of people don’t fully consider the benefits of a healthy diet for men. Besides boosting fertility and general health, eating well within the context of trying to conceive can also help bring couples together as more of a team. 

 

The Male Fertility Diet that we have below is designed to both include foods that are beneficial and nourishing, as well as to exclude harmful foods that may decrease fertility in men. You can eat any type of cuisine or type of food following this diet, so it’s not designed to be restrictive in this way, however certain cuisines/types of food may require more attention to detail when making them at home (for example, many classic American foods will require some reworking to make them healthy, though it is possible to do this). It’s our philosophy that the basis of all health and healing comes from the food you eat (and don’t eat), so eating a good diet is absolutely essential for both members of a couple who are trying to conceive. 

 

Here are the basic principles of the Male Fertility Diet: 

 

  • Eat whole foods / Avoid packaged and processed foods

    These are two main principles that are opposite sides of the same coin. Eating whole foods means that you should only be eating things that are, well, whole. Examples of whole foods would include things like fresh fruits and vegetables, raw or lightly roasted nuts and seeds, whole grain flours, free-range meats, etc. These whole foods should be as close to what you would find in nature as possible. So, a flavored, packaged sausage wouldn’t qualify… but a whole chicken does. Chocolate covered raisins don’t qualify… but plain raisins without any preservatives or extra ingredients other than “dried grapes” still do.

    Packaged and processed foods include everything from potato chips and Oreo cookies to soda pops and even pre packaged juices. Avoiding heavily processed foods is essential for the Male Fertility Diet since these foods decrease cellular health, and therefore they also negatively affect the health of individual sperm cells as well. They also generally contribute to poor health throughout the body, which can ultimately affect fertility in a plethora of different ways (listing all of the ways that processed foods and their ingredients negatively affect the whole body, and how individual processes affect male fertility, though, is a bit out of the scope of this particular article).

 

  • Cook at home.

    Yes, even if you and your partner are busy and don’t get a lot of time for it, cooking at home is by far one of the most straightforward and important ways to get your diet and health back on track. When you cook your own food, you know exactly what you’re eating, and in this case, you can customize your meals to make them more fertility-friendly. Meal prepping is something many people do to prepare in advance for busy weeks, and indeed, this can be a good way to go for some people who are busy but trying to eat healthfully. Crock pot or Instant pot meals are another way to (safely) cook a meal even while you’re not at home. If you buy fresh produce, chop it, and then boil/steam it in advance, this makes it possible to freeze fresh foods for easy use later (packaged frozen foods are out of the deal for the Male Fertility Diet, but you can make your own frozen foods from fresh foods).

 

  • Eat a varied diet.

    Lots of people talk about eating a varied diet, but not very many talk about what it actually means. Simply, it means that you should eat a lot of different things. Don’t stick to only pasta with tomato sauce, try to mix things up; maybe one night you have a roast chicken, another night some chili soup, a different night some pasta with tomato sauce and roasted veggies, etc, etc. Variety is good for your body, since it means you’re getting a wide array of nutrients packaged into different forms, but it’s also good for your mind, since it will help you feel more excited about your food. If you have a bad habit of making the same things over and over, make a list of possible recipes you can make, put it up on your fridge, and go through a rotation or decide which meals you’ll make that week on which days in advance.

 

  • Don’t go vegan.

    This is important for both men and women, but we’re focusing on men’s health here. Make sure you include some animal protein in your diet, ideally in an organic, free-range form. Free-range eggs and meats are less likely to have synthetic hormones, and also are more likely to contain essential nutrients like iodine and vitamin K2. Synthetic hormones that are added to meats can negatively affect male fertility without a man even knowing it, so making a point of avoiding meats that may have these added hormones is important if a man is struggling with infertility. Additionally, getting dietary iodine and vitamin K2 (among other nutrients essential for male fertility, including proteins, vitamin B12, and more) is essential.

    Try to incorporate animal products into your diet at least twice a week. If you enjoy these foods and crave them, it can be okay to eat them in moderation on a daily basis. As long as you’re choosing exclusively free-range, pure meats, eggs, and milks, let your body guide you on the correct amount of animal proteins for you.

 

  • Cut these foods out of your diet…

    Sugar in all its form, dairy (unless it’s from a free-range farm you trust), trans fats (including ingredients like hydrogenated vegetable oils and mono-and-diglycerides), brominated vegetable oils / BVOs, artificial sweeteners, flavorings, and colorings, and MSG.

    You can still eat raw, unrefined honey and raw, Grade A maple syrup (though in more moderation than honey), but otherwise, it’s important to avoid all refined and unrefined forms of sugar. The dairy industry in most places in the world has serious problems with hormones, antibiotics, and other contaminants in its dairy products, and thus, all store-bought dairy products should be avoided. If you are in direct contact with a local farm that supplies raw, free-range milk, however, some milk in the diet can be beneficial since it’s a good source of many essential nutrients.

    Trans fats, BVOs, artificial sweeteners, flavorings, and colorings are all highly toxic, especially when consumed in larger quantities. They should be eliminated entirely from the diet, without exceptions. 

Foods that Promote Male Fertility

Eating well in a way like what I described above is absolutely essential, but in addition to these basic guidelines, there are also some specific foods that have been shown to boost male fertility. I’ll list these foods below: 

Walnuts and Other Nuts

One 2012 study demonstrated that men who consumed at least 75 grams of walnuts daily, even in spite of following a typical Western diet, had improved sperm vitality, motility, and morphology than men who didn’t consume these nuts daily. Other more recent studies have again demonstrated that consuming nuts of any kind, walnuts or not, may have similar results in improving male fertility and sperm parameters. As nuts that contain high levels of omega fatty acids, vitamin E, zinc, vitamin B6, and folic acid/vitamin B6, it’s not surprising that walnuts in particular stand out as high quality dietary sources of essential male fertility nutrition.

 

Consider incorporating a daily, homemade “trail mix” as a snack, or use nuts in a creative way and make creams, milks, or homemade flours from unroasted, whole nuts. Walnuts may have special benefits and therefore perhaps deserve special inclusion in the Male Fertility Diet, but the addition of some other kinds of nuts is likely to also be valuable since different nuts tend to possess different nutritional properties and health benefits. For example, sunflower seeds boast especially high levels of vitamin E, an incredibly important fertility nutrient, and may be another valuable addition to the Male Fertility Diet. A few Brazil nuts daily can fulfill one’s daily selenium needs so well, even, that a selenium supplement may not even be necessary!

 

Garlic

Garlic has quite an array of health benefits to begin with, including in terms of male fertility. Some studies have shown that consuming higher levels of garlic is correlated with increased sperm production, a boost in testosterone levels, and protection against oxidative or other types of damage to sperm cells. Luckily, garlic is relatively easy to include in your diet, and most people already eat a little bit anyways! Include fresh garlic in dressings and sauces, or steam some garlic cloves along with other vegetables and eat the cloves whole. Fermented garlic honey is another excellent (and tasty) way to gain the health benefits of garlic. 

 

Garlic, as a medicinal herb as well as a culinary spice, can also be taken in the form of a supplement or as an essential oil

 

Free-Range Beef and Poultry

Beef and poultry from free-range animals who were allowed to graze in grassy fields are good meats to include in the Male Fertility Diet. Both of these are high in nutrients like vitamin B12 (and all the B-complex vitamins, in fact) and zinc, and when you eat free-range meats, you’re also getting a dose of iodine and vitamin K2 in your meal. Beef in particular also contains higher levels of L-Carnitine than other meats, making it a good dietary source of this pro-fertility amino acid. Deficiencies in any of these nutrients is often the root cause of infertility for many men, so ensuring that your diet includes at least some meats can help prevent infertility caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency. 

 

Meat is an important part of any healthy diet, but it’s especially important for men who are wanting to conceive a child with their partner. If you have access to free-range beef, this type of meat, when eaten in moderation, can supply a wide range of essential nutrients. I do want to note, though, that if the beef you’re able to get isn’t free-range, then it shouldn’t be eaten. This is because, like with milk from commercial cows, beef and other non-free-range meats are likely to contain synthetic hormones and antibiotics that may interfere with fertility and general sexual and reproductive health. So, in conclusion, free-range beef in particular can be very good for men who are trying to conceive, but commercial beef can actually be detrimental. 

 

Fatty Fish and Fish Oils

Fatty fish like salmon and cod are known for their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and have been shown in some studies to help improve sperm parameters and overall male fertility levels. These fish and fish oils also generally contain high amounts of vitamin E, another vitamin that’s essential for male reproductive health. Incorporate one meal a week with some kind of fatty fish, or if you prefer, take a daily fish oil supplement (these are available as oils that you can drink, or in gel capsules).

 

Unfortunately, fish and other seafood products are frequently contaminated with mercury and other heavy metals, as well as some chemicals. As such, if you’re unable to obtain fish from a source that you’re certain is as pure as possible, it may be better to either supplement with fish oil supplements (cod liver oil is a good choice) or instead to drink the Budwig Smoothie daily in order to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Despite the fact that fish can be very good for fertility in men, contaminants like mercury and other chemicals are detrimental to reproductive health, so it’s important to be careful when choosing a source from which to buy your fish. 

 

Seawater Supplements

Though seawater supplements aren’t technically a food, they still deserve special mention since they can make a profound difference in fertility and general health in many cases. Seawater supplements like Panakos can be combined with your regular drinking water in a water bottle, and offer a range of important trace minerals, including boron, sulfur, lithium, rubidium, and others. Daily use of seawater supplements in this way ensures that your body has adequate trace mineral levels (which is important, since most people don’t get enough if any trace minerals in their diet due to mineral depletion in the soils where most modern food is grown), and also helps the body to hydrate more efficiently. 

 

Seawater supplements can also be added to soups, sauces, or smoothies, if you prefer, though adding them to water is best since they can also increase your body’s ability to hydrate.

Foods that Decrease Male Fertility

As long as you follow the Basic Guidelines above for the Male Fertility Diet, there aren’t many other foods to avoid. However, there are still a few regular food items that should generally be shunned when it comes to male fertility and reproductive health, which are listed below.

Soy and Soy Products

A lot of people are peripherally aware of the debate on whether or not soy is good for hormone health. There’s good reason for debate, since indeed, soy and soy products do have fairly pronounced estrogenic effects! In women, organic soy can be beneficial because of this, but in men, soy should be avoided since it can interfere with a man’s normal hormone levels in a way that negatively affects his fertility. Specifically, increased estrogen levels (whether it be from plant products like soy or from other sources) may be correlated with a decrease in testosterone levels, which ultimately leads to decreased sperm production and quality.

 

Processed Meats

I’ve touched on this briefly, but I want to put processed meats under a special heading because they deserve extra special attention. Processed meats include bacon, pepperoni, salami, lunch meats in general, and most sausages. These processed meats often contain undesirable ingredients such as artificial colorings or flavorings in addition to preservatives or nitrates/nitrites. They also tend to come from lower quality meat sources. 

 

Some sausages (and hamburgers and other similar products), such as homemade sausages from an actual butcher, for example, may be perfectly fine to eat as long as they’ve been made exclusively from raw, plain meats and real spices. Again, if you’re getting homemade sausages or hamburgers made of beef, it’s still important to prioritize that they be made from free-range meat. With this one exception, sausages (and definitely hot dogs) should be avoided in the vast majority of cases. 

 

Canned Foods

Canned foods don’t count as whole foods. Period. Foods that come in a can are highly likely to be contaminated with aluminum, a heavy metal associated with decreased sperm counts, higher sperm death rates, poor sperm morphology, decreased sperm motility, and more, besides having toxic effects on general health. Foods that are packaged in a glass container (such as raw honey, for example) can be fine to eat, however, as long as they don’t contain any other harmful ingredients such as those discussed above. 

 

Related Posts:

The Budwig Smoothie for Male Fertility: Regenerative Recipe with Vitamin E, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Healthy Oils

Types, Causes, and Natural Treatments for Male Infertility

Organophosphate Detoxification as an Infertility Treatment for Men and Women

An Index of Herbal Remedies for Male Fertility and Reproductive Health

Essential Oils for Fertility: Medicinal Turpentine / Pinus palustris / Pinus elliottii and More…

How to Decalcify the Pineal Gland to Treat Female and Male Infertility

L-Carnitine for Infertility: Using Nutrients to Boost Reproductive Health

Using Vitamins and Minerals for Holistic Male Infertility Treatment

Ubiquinone (CoQ10) for Fertility

Castor Oil Packs: An Oil-Based Herbal Remedy for Infertility, Reproductive Organ Issues, Gallbladder Problems, and Thyroid Disease

Resources: 

 

Legacy (2021). 6 superfoods for male fertility. Retrieved November 24, 2022 from: https://www.givelegacy.com/resources/superfoods-for-male-fertility/ 

 

CNY Fertility (2022). 10 Foods That Can Increase Sperm Count and Motility Fast. Retrieved November 24, 2022 from: https://www.cnyfertility.com/foods-that-increase-sperm-count-and-motility/