A healthy lifestyle coupled with a diet that includes organic fruits and vegetables is believed to boost fertility. However, research has found that men often don’t think their habits and diet will affect the chances of conception and don’t seek medical advice regarding fertility easily. According to a study, 55% of fertile men ate fruits five times a week in comparison to 73% of fertile women. Along with poor lifestyle choices like smoking, stress, and obesity, another lesser-known factor can affect the quality of your semen—pesticide residue in your fruits and vegetables. A new study from Harvard’s School of Public Health has found that consuming fruits and vegetables that carry higher levels of pesticide might be linked with a lower sperm count as well as fewer sperm cells that are normal in shape or size as compared to those who eat organic, chemical-free produce.
What studies say?
Research involving more than 1,100 men and women concluded that people with healthy diets who regularly consumed fruits, vegetables and pulses had higher chances of conceiving. A study also found that men with saturated fat-packed diets possess a lower sperm count than those who consume lesser unhealthy fats. Men who consume healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, mostly found in fish, also have stronger sperm.
The new Harvard study is the first to “link consumption of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables, a primary exposure route for most people, to an adverse reproductive health outcome in humans,” according to Jorge Chavarro, the study’s senior author. The results indicate that it’s not the amount of fruit and vegetable intake that affects sperm count, but rather whether the fruit and vegetable intake contains high levels of pesticide residues.
How does pesticide residue affect fertility?
Using data from 155 men participating in the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study, the researchers investigated the connections between the men’s intake of produce containing pesticide residue and the quality of their sperm. They found that men who ate pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables like strawberries, spinach, apples, peppers, and pears, had lower sperm counts and lower percentages of normal sperm. They had almost 50% fewer sperm and more abnormally shaped sperm than the men who had the least amount of pesticides in their diet. This even raises the possibility that high amounts of pesticide residues in our food may also be a contributory factor in male infertility, at least in certain men.
However, these results should not discourage the consumption of fruit and vegetables in general as those who consumed large quantities of fruit and vegetables with little or no residue experienced a 37% improvement in their sperm quality. Research has already proven that switching to an organic diet can lower your pesticide exposure by up to 90%. An organic diet can work wonders not just for your fertility, but also for your other health markers. This new study, thus, reaffirms the growing body of evidence that suggests a healthy and organic diet could help protect and enhance both your potency and fertility.