‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Male Fertility and Diet: A Tail of Two Sperms

Sperm, semen, secretions, scrotal temperature, motility, morphology, infertility and... oh yes, diet! The good news is, we've got most of the embarrassing words out of the way, but male fertility is certainly no laughing matter. We've done one for the ladies, now it's time to focus on the fellows. Didn't think fertility was a male problem? Didn't think your pie hole's dining habits effect your testes? Well, it's time to think again as we explore the new research linking a man's diet to his swimmers.

Simple sperm schooling 101: The male reproductive system manufactures, stores and transports sperm. It is the sperm that carry male DNA to ultimately fertilise the female sperm equivalent; the egg or ovum. Sperm is carried out of the body via semen, which is comprised of sperm and other secretions to help sustain the sperm on their quest to find the holy grail.
Diagram and microscope capture of human sperm. Source: Palomar Education

Many factors can effect male fertility including: recreational drugs, radiation, heavy metals, pesticides, childhood illnesses, smoking, alcohol and some medications. New research shows a man's diet too, plays a role in his baby-making ability.

Evidence shows zinc, vitamin E, vitamin C, folic acid and selenium protect sperm against oxidative damage and help improve sperm count. Additionally, research shows fatty acids (FAs) play a role in sperm maturation and sperm membrane function.

Western diets are typically high in simple sugars (like soda, fruit juice, cakes and sweets), refined grains, saturated fat, red meat, processed meat and simultaneously low in fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber. This translates to a diet high in omega 6 FAs. New research found a characteristic of infertile men was a high proportion of omega 6 FAs in their sperm. The study also found male diets high in omega 6 and low in omega 3 FAs contributed to poor sperm quality, motility and function. Translation: Scarf less steak and eat fish 2-3 times a week to keep your swimmers swimming.

Snaking a little further down the happy trail, we find a study that shows men who ate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts and chicken had an 11.3% higher measure of sperm motility, compared to men eating traditional western diets. Another study found adding 75g/day (2.6oz) of shelled whole walnuts (high in omega 3 FAs) to a western diet improved sperm vitality, morphology (structure) and motility. Translation: Men who eat their nuts have fitter, finer, healthier sperm.

A further point of interest is the body weight conundrum. Lower male fertility rates have coincided with the obesity 'trend'. Obesity (BMI >30) alters hormone levels that impact sperm production. Excess body fat increases scrotal temperature. Toxic substances deposit in fatty tissue; more fatty tissue = increased toxic substance deposition. No, going on a 'cleanse' (organic, berry, lemony, juicy, colon, master, black, green, gold, made with unicorn urine or otherwise) to 'rid' your body of toxins is not the answer.

Finally, a meta analysis (combination and analysis of independent studies) of 21 studies, showed that men who were underweight, overweight, obese or morbidly obese had low or no sperm present in their semen compared to healthy weight men. Whether it's too much fat or too little: size matters.

Take home messages:
  • Diet is an inexpensive way to improve sperm quality
  • For mighty fine, fighting fit, sperm-alicious sperm, wrap your pie hole around some fish, chicken, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts

Special thanks to my wonderful friend, and Reproductive Scientist Shannon Everett


  1. women normal have some hormone changes during their pregnancy time, so they should eat the healthy fresh vegetables and fruits.

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  2. Very Knowledgeable and well detailed thank you

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  4. Atkins diet foods worked for me. i lost 8-10 lbs. in one month. but you have to do toning exercises to build muscles while losing weight. so your skin won't sag specially around the arms and belly.