Studies have shown that semen quality has steadily declined since the middle of the 20th century, with one study estimating a 50-60% decrease in sperm counts since the early 1970s. The cause of this decline is unclear, but one potential culprit could be a worsening in diet and nutrition.
One such study examining this topic was published earlier this year. In this study the authors found that in a large number of young men from Denmark, diet was associated with sperm quality. More specifically, men who utilized a diet consisting of frequent intake of pizza, French fries, sugar-sweetened drinks, sweets, and processed and red meats were found to have lower sperm counts than men who consumed more fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry and healthy snacks such as nuts. Additionally, poor diet was associated with an increased likelihood of having at least one abnormal semen parameter.
With these type of studies, it’s important to note that correlation does not necessarily equal causation – that the poor diet may not be the cause of decreased semen parameters in these individuals. That being said, these results are consistent with a growing body of evidence linking poor diet and nutrition with impaired sperm counts and motility. It’s advisable to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle for a variety of reasons, including possible benefits to fertility.