Parenthood is something that not just the mother needs to get ready for, fathers have an equally important role to play. Infertility is on the rise in modern India.According to statistics, there has been almost a 20-30% rise in infertility in the last five years itself. In men, the quality of semen is the main reason for failing to impregnate the partner. Common reasons for male infertility are low-sperm concentration (oligospermia), poor sperm motility (asthenospermia), and abnormal sperm morphology (teratospermia). The exact reason for the decline in semen quality is not clear, but environmental, nutritional, socioeconomic and other factors are starting to come into focus with recent research.Diet plays a very important role in male fertility. Recent research has proven that healthy lifestyle is effective in improving the chances for conception and can also help in increasing the sperm count. 

1. Tank up on fruits and vegetables: A study conducted by the HarvardUniversity found that eating yellow and orange coloured fruits and vegetables had a profound effect on the health of the sperm. Yellow and orange colour in fruits and vegetables is because of“carotenoids” including beta-carotene which is converted to VitaminA in the body. It is one of the most potent antioxidants. Sweet potato and melon were found to improve both the quantity and quality of sperms while red vegetables particularly tomatoes, which contains lycopene, improved the quantity of abnormally shaped sperms by 8-10%. The hero here was the carrot which increased the motility of the sperm, improving its chance to reach the egg. 

2. Go easy on processed food: Processed and fast foods are both known to be detrimental to health. In the Rochester young men’s study carried out at theUniversity of Rochester, one group was fed a diet high in processed meat, red meat, refined grains, fast foods, high energy drinks and fast food. Another group of men were put on a healthy diet of chicken, fish, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Guess what they discovered? As always, the group on the healthy or “Prudent” diet had better sperm motility. Other than this, there are numerous studies across the world which have highlighted the positive role of a diet high in whole grains, legumes, fruits vegetables and healthy fats on sperm health and fertility. 

3. Control the cholesterol: Couples with high cholesterol levels take longer to conceive. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology& Metabolism concluded that couples or either of the partner with high cholesterol found it difficult to conceive as compared to other couples.Another Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE)study has found that maybe high levels of total cholesterol and free cholesterol are associated with a significantly lower percentage of spermatozoa. So, get in those whole grain fibres, whole fruits and lean plant proteins into your daily diet and keep a check on your lipid profile.

4. Cut saturated fats: Saturated fats do not only have an adverse effect on your heart and waistline but are also major contributory factors for low sperm count. Harvard study has linked saturated fat intakes with sperm count suggesting that even a 5% increase in saturated fat intake could result in a decrease in sperm count. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women'sHospital and Harvard Medical School found that while eating high amounts of saturated fats decreased the sperm count and concentration, eating omega-3 polyunsaturated fats actually improved the quality of semen. So, gorge on some salmon, almonds, walnuts and chia seeds.