If you want to be a dad eat like an Italian
MEN who eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish could boost their chances of becoming a father, according to a new study.
A Mediterranean-style diet, which also contains leafy vegetables, pulses and whole grains, can enhance sperm motility by 11pc.
This could be especially important for couples who are trying to conceive naturally due the need for sperm to be "strong swimmers".
The research comes as a separate study found that men who take moderate exercise can also positively impact their sperm motility.
Both studies were presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) conference in Orlando.
In the first, experts from universities including the Harvard School of Public Health, examined the diets of more than 180 men aged 18 to 22.
They split those who ate any Mediterranean-type items into four sub-sets, from those with the highest intake of these nutrient-rich foods to those with the lowest.
Those in the highest group had an increased sperm motility of 11pc compared to the lowest.
Audrey Gaskins, from Harvard's Department of Nutrition, said: "I think motility is most important for couples who are trying to conceive naturally.
"It's our hope that a small increase could lead to a small increase in fertility rates."
Dr Edward Kim, from the Society for Reproduction and Urology, said: "There is no doubt that motility is one of the most important parameters that we look at in semen quality.
"These findings are intriguing and will compel us to do further studies in this area."
Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer from the academic unit of reproductive and developmental medicine at the University of Sheffield, said the influence of a man's diet on semen quality had been of interest for some time.
"For example, there is now good evidence from a variety of studies that men with a higher antioxidant intake have slightly better semen quality and are more likely to become fathers than men who don't.
"Similarly, there are also studies showing that men who consume key nutrients ejaculate better sperm."
He said the latest study "nicely illustrates that a good diet is of benefit when trying to conceive".
In the second study, from experts at Yamaguchi University in Japan, 215 men attending an IVF clinic completed a questionnaire about their exercise habits and gave semen samples.
This was then translated into "metabolic equivalent" hours per week based on the type of exercise, frequency and duration.
Men were given a score based on whether they did strenuous, moderate or light exercise.
The group reporting moderate exercise had the highest average sperm motility as well as a significantly lower percentage of men with less than 40pc sperm motility (14.3pc).
In the lowest exercise group, 30.8pc of men had sperm motility under 40pc and 27.1pc of men who exercised intensely had sperm motility under 40pc.
Dr Dolores Lamb, president-elect of the ASRM, said: "Exercise is a component of an overall healthy lifestyle, which contributes to reproductive health.
"This study which uses frequency, intensity, and duration to quantify the amount of exercise a subject gets, shows that a moderate exercise routine may be recommended to modestly improve semen parameters in men with no known conditions that impair their reproductive capacity."