A good intake of fruit and vegetables could boost the hopes and chances of having a baby but men are much lazier than women at taking such advice, researchers have cautioned.
A major study of more than 1,100 men and women found that those with healthy diets were much more likely to conceive.
Consumption of fruit, vegetables and pulses regularly was associated with far higher levels of fertility. Non-smokers and those who avoided alcohol, or limited their intake, were also more likely to conceive.
The study, presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s annual meeting in Lisbon, showed that, overall, women were more likely than men to have a healthy diet.
In findings described as “striking and statistically significant”, the research indicated that 55 per cent of fertile men consumed fruit five times a week compared with 73 per cent of fertile women.
Fertile women were also more likely than men to eat eggs regularly.
Eugenio Ventimiglia, a researcher from San Raffaele Hospital in Milan,Italy,said:”Women are more keen on being careful than men. We have to try to convince men that diet and lifestyle is an issue.”
He added men often did not think their habits would influence the chances of conception, and were, therefore, reluctant to seek medical advice when struggling with fertility. “It’s always the wife who prompts the investigation,” he said. “Men are lazier and are keen to rely on the women.”
He further said that anyone intending to start a family should follow a healthy lifestyle to augment their chances of success. Experts said fruits and vegetables appeared to improve sperm quality because they contain antioxidants. Those who ate plenty of fruit and vegetables were also less likely to eat fatty foods and red meat, which can reduce fertility.
Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology at the University of Sheffield, said there was now “a wealth of evidence” to indicate that a good intake of fruit and vegetables can help sperm quality.
Nevertheless, he said men had been given too little advice about the impact of diet on fertility. “I think most of our pre-conception advice……..has been primarily aimed at women ( take your folic acid, etc) and men have really been missed out of the public health message,” he said. ” Men are generally less interested than women in how their diet links to health, and in particular issues of fertility.”
Professor Pacey said men who want to start family should try to eat five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables each day. “I think all men inherently know what foods and lifestyle habits are good and which of them are bad,” he said. ” But sometimes they need to hear it from someone who isn’t their partner.”
Coffee drinking was also more common among the infertile, with 90.6 per cent consuming the drink compared with 83.7 per cent of those who had conceived.
Dr Ali Ahmad
3 July, 2015