If you’re one of my regular readers, you’ve probably noticed by now that I ALWAYS recommend fermented foods containing probiotics as part of a healthy diet (in addition to a high potency probiotic supplement and specific dietary changes) to optimize your gut health and microbiome. This is because your body’s microbial flora is made up of a complex, interconnected ecosystem that relies on maintaining equilibrium in their specific environments, and probiotics can help your body keep that equilibrium going. In exchange, your body’s microbes perform specific functions to keep your body healthy (a pretty mind-blowing example of reciprocal adaptation between you and your microbes!).
Keeping your microbiota healthy—digestive, skin, oral, genital, etc.—is a definite cornerstone of improving your fertility health. And now, studies are beginning to show how important healthy microbiota are for men’s fertility health too. In fact, we now know that the seminal microbiome—an “ecosystem of bacteria found in semen” has WAY more to do with sperm health and fertility than we initially thought.
In a recent study, semen samples were collected from 96 men. They were examined for bacterial communities, and then checked for quality—measured for volume, sperm concentration, motility, morphology, etc. The results of this study were fascinating—basically, the different types of bacteria communities found were “highly associated with semen health.”
There’s more—in another study, men with certain types of bacteria in their seminal microbiomes, like Lactobacillus, tended to have higher sperm counts and much healthier sperm. Another type of bacteria, L. reuteri, was associated with both increased sperm count and testicular mass.
The same goes for less beneficial bacteria—when strains like P. acnes got out of control, they affected sperm cell production, and even “appeared to change the physiology of female partners’ reproductive tracts to make them less conducive to conception.”
So how can you make sure you’ve got the best possible bacterial environment for your sperm? Well, because all of our microbial ecosystems are interconnected—your skin microbiome impacts your oral microbiome, which impacts your digestive microbiome, which impacts your genital microbiome, etc.—you need to make sure ALL of your microbial ecosystems have a healthy environment to live and thrive in.
The key takeaway here? Diet and lifestyle ABSOLUTELY play a role in sperm health.
A good example comes from another study that looked at how quickly diet can affect sperm health. In this study, 15 normal, non-smoking young men were put on a healthy diet (based on the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations for healthy eating) for two weeks. All of their food was given to them by the scientists conducting the study: “At the beginning of the study, one-third of the participants had low sperm motility (about average for the general population) … The researchers were surprised to discover that the sperm motility of all participants became normal during the study.”
In just TWO weeks, the men in the study with low sperm motility were able to restore their sperm to normal levels. Even small changes can have a huge impact!
So if you want to keep your boys plentiful and swimming strong, here are my top foods + supplement recommendations to create the best possible environment for your seminal microbiome:
First, focus on eating real, whole, fresh, organic food that you cook yourself. Every day, eat high-quality organic protein, clean and healthy fat sources, a variety of organic fruit and vegetables, lots of greens, and fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, properly fermented yogurt or kefir, etc.
ALWAYS choose organic, local and in-season whenever possible! I always tell my clients to purchase the highest quality of food you can find and afford.
Here’s an example of what your daily meals should look like:
First and foremost—take your probiotics! Your microbial ecosystem needs all the help it can get to stay balanced.
This is the specific one I recommend: MegaSporeBiotic (Click on REGISTER in the upper right corner, then click PATIENT, then enter code SJS2018 when asked for Patient Direct code to order). Start with 1 capsule daily and work up to 2 capsules daily over a 7 day period. Continue on 2 capsules per day.
The following supplements are used specifically to optimize sperm health, quality, and volume. Each of these has been researched for specific use in normalizing sperm number, motility, morphology and more.
GPC Liquid: 2 droppers full directly in mouth daily.
Vitamin D Supreme: 1 capsule, daily with a meal (that includes a healthy fat).
Designs For Health Complete Multi without Copper and Iron: 2 capsules, three times per day with meals. DFH Complete Multi is a full-spectrum multivitamin with Albion chelated minerals for maximum absorption and bioavailability. This powerhouse multivitamin supplies supporting nutrients not normally found in regular multis, such as alpha lipoic acid, TMG, fruit bioflavanoids, choline, and inositol. This formula also contains vitamin E, high levels of all B vitamins, and natural mixed carotenoids. This copper and iron-free version is appropriate for men.
Designs For Health Omega TG1000: 2 capsules per day with meals. OmegAvail TG1000 uses the latest innovation in omega-3 EPA/DHA technology to ensure superior quality, purity, and absorption. Essential fatty acids ensure a healthy sperm membrane, which is required for proper sperm maturation. Omega 3’s also improved sperm count significantly.
Designs For Health Detox Antiox: 2 capsules per day with meals. Detox Antiox synergistically combines many nutrients that have a positive effect on sperm health, including zinc, vitamin C, E, selenium, and other potent antioxidants. Adequate zinc intake is important for the creation of the outer membrane and tail of a sperm. Sperm utilize zinc for maturation, mobility, and strength. Zinc is also necessary for hormone balance. Selenium is necessary for proper sperm formation. This formula also contains multiple ingredients known to raise glutathione levels making it helpful for protecting delicate sperm cells. It also combats free radicals and helps detoxify harmful chemicals including heavy metals. L-Leucine when taken with NAC prevents mercury from being reabsorbed into the central nervous system.
Designs For Health CoQnol Ubiquinol 100mg: 1 capsule per day with meals. CoQnol contains ubiquinol, the reduced, antioxidant form of CoQ10. As an antioxidant, coQ10 increases fertility, especially in men. CoQ10 improves sperm motility and is especially useful for men with poor sperm quality. CoQ10 is necessary for a healthy sperm cell membrane and energy (forward movement). It is also protective of sperm cells and protects the important genetic codes they carry (DNA) for the creation of a healthy child.
Designs For Health Arginine: Researchers have discovered that Arginine regulates nitric oxide, a powerful compound in the blood responsible for regulating blood flow, immune function, communication among nerve cells, liver function, blood clotting, and even sexual arousal. Arginine acts as a natural Viagra – improving erectile function and increasing the quantity of sperm (by up to 250%). Arginine also improves sperm motility & health.
Designs For Health Carnitine Synergy: 2 capsules per day. L-Carnitine is an amino acid responsible for shuttling omega fatty acids. L-Carnitine has been shown to help normalize sperm motility in men with low sperm quality. L-Carnitine helps sperm to metabolize fats and sugars for energy. L-Carnitine is also vital for the formation of sperm cells. L-Carnitine stimulates the natural production of sperm, and the higher the sperm-cell count, the higher the chances for fertilization. Not only does L-Carnitine increases sperm levels, but it also enhances the sperm’s motility and improves the health of the sperm cells. It is believed that this supplement can be particularly efficient for the treatment of age-related infertility in men.
Carnitine powder: 1 tsp daily on empty stomach
Endocrine-disrupting compounds” (EDC) found in synthetic chemicals, like phthalates, mimic estrogen in the body and can have a negative impact on hormonal balance, which, in turn, can make your body a less-than-hospitable environment for healthy microbes. Even if you work hard to maintain a perfect seminal ecosystem, EDC can still cause a decline in testosterone and therefore affect the quality of your sperm.
To reduce your exposure to EDC:
For even MORE information on what you can do to maximize your sperm health, check out the blog post I wrote a while back all about The Male Factor and the importance of men’s health in the fertility process, or this post with a ton more strategies to optimize sperm health.
Looking to have a more in-depth conversation about how your microbiome health can impact your fertility? Schedule a consultation with me!