Cheese and Dairy Decreases Fertility in Men

By: Bel Marra Health | Diets | Monday, November 05, 2012 - 12:07 AM

dairyMany couples make changes to their diets by adding healthy food and cutting out alcohol when they are trying to conceive a child.  They do this in an effort to increase their chances of conception. New research from The Harvard School of Public Health found that men may want to consider decreasing the amount of full-fat dairy that they consume in their diets in hopes of protecting their fertility.

The Research – Diets Rich in Dairy

The researchers compared the diets of 189 men who were between the ages of 19 and 25.  The participants were generally healthy – none of them were overweight and they all exercised on a regular basis. The men were asked to complete questionnaires regarding their diets and how often they consumed particular foods during a typical week including: dairy, meat, fruit and other products. The researchers then evaluated the sperm of the participants taking into account its shape, speed and other markers of fertility.

The researchers found that men who consumed more than three servings of full-fat dairy in their diets had poorer quality sperm (25% poorer than men who consumed less dairy).  A serving of dairy, for study purposes, was an ounce of cheese, a teaspoon of cream, one scoop of ice-cream or a glass of full fat milk.

How Do Diets High in Dairy Contribute to Infertility in Men?

There are a number of causes of male infertility that have been researched.  However, this is one of the first studies that have shown a relation between increased dairy consumption and decreased male fertility.  Myriam Afieche, the lead researcher on the current study, stated that there are a variety of reasons why dairy may cause fertility problems in men when consumed regularly in their diets. Afieche told the Daily Mail that one reason for the association may be that commercially available dairy products contain a naturally occurring female reproductive hormone, oestrogen that may negatively affect male fertility.  Additionally, commercially available dairy may also contain pesticides, chlorinated pollutants, and heavy metals all of which may have a negative impact on a man’s fertility. Future research should investigate the particular ingredients that are present in full fat dairy that decrease male fertility.

Diets for Men trying to Conceive

You may not need to cut dairy completely out of your diet based on this research, but you may want to decrease your intake of full fat dairy products while you’re trying to conceive.  According to www.babycenter.com, eating a diet consisting of healthy food may increase your chances of having a baby.  They recommend eating plenty of healthy food that contains anti-oxidants including vitamin C.  This will help to prevent defects in the sperm and will help with sperm movement.  Making sure you’re getting enough folic acid is also important as research has shown that low levels of folic acid are tied to lower sperm counts.  Decreasing alcohol intake is also advised as alcohol can decrease your testosterone levels as well as sperm count. Alcohol can also increase the number of abnormal sperm.

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While the research from The Harvard School of Public Health doesn’t identify what component of dairy is responsible for decreased male fertility it does raise concern for men that are trying to conceive.  Reducing full fat dairy from your diet during this time and consuming a diet that consists of healthy food choices including lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats, whole grains and minimal low fat dairy choices may help you to experience the joy of becoming a dad.


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