Human fertility has been steadily decreasing since the beginning of the industrial era. This drop in fertility remains mysterious, but it is suspected that it could be due, at least in part, to exposure to certain chemicals such as endocrine disruptors. Recent studies suggest that the nature of the modern diet, particularly junk food, may also be contributing to this rise in infertility.
According to statistics compiled by the World Health Organization, it is estimated that 80 million individuals worldwide suffer from some form of infertility or subfertility. This problem is particularly common in Western countries, with 10% to 15% of couples being infertile. So, even if infertility is not a health problem that regularly makes the headlines, it is nonetheless a problem of unsuspected magnitude, which leads to major upheavals in the lives of people who want eagerly children.
It is often said, with good reason, that you are what you eat. This adage is especially true when it comes to the nature of the fats in our diet. Following their absorption at the level of the intestine, lipids are used by our body for a host of functions, in particular the manufacture of the membrane which surrounds our cells. For example, the beneficial effect of omega-3s is due to their integration into the cell membrane, which improves its fluidity and reduces the formation of inflammatory molecules of lipid origin. Conversely, when these membranes are formed from trans fats absorbed following the consumption of junk food, the cells can present various functioning problems that promote the development of diseases.
Stronger sperm thanks to food
It appears that these trans fats are also detrimental to sperm function. By analyzing the quality of the sperm of volunteers, researchers at Harvard University observed that those who regularly consumed very fatty industrial foods (cakes, fried foods) had lower quality sperm than those who ate a balanced diet. In these junk food lovers, the sperm contained a significantly higher amount of trans fat, this increase being correlated with a significant reduction in the number of sperm. In the same vein, a Spanish team recently reported that the sperm of men whose diets were high in industrial foods were less mobile and, therefore, less likely to fertilize the egg. Conversely, people who ate well (whole grains, vegetables and fish) had very good quality sperm. The message to men who want to become fathers is therefore very clear: cut out junk food and adopt a healthy diet!
Women’s fertility: Mediterranean diet for making babies
Diet also appears to have a significant effect on female fertility. A Spanish study of 485 women between the ages of 20 and 45 showed that those who adopted a Mediterranean-type diet had significantly higher fertility. Indeed, they observed that women, whose consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains was the highest, had an approximately 45% lower risk of having difficulty getting pregnant than those who consumed these foods less frequently. good foods.
These observations illustrate once again the extent to which what we eat can influence the functioning of our body and, in turn, our health and well-being.
Chavarro JE et al. Trans-fatty acid levels in sperm are associated with sperm concentration among men from an infertility clinic. Fertil Sterile, 95:1794-97.
Gaskins AJ et al. Dietary patterns and semen quality in young men. Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Orlando (FL),
Toledo E et al. Dietary patterns and difficulty conceiving: a nested case-control study Fertil Steril, 96:1149-53.