Food For Thought

Are you seething under the pressure of multiple failed attempts to start your family and become a parent? Agreed, it can be pretty frustrating, but not as much if you knew that your lifestyle could be playing evil in the game plan. The rate of male infertility has risen significantly over the last 10 years. The data is definitely worrisome. “There are several theories to help explain this, since fertility is not essential for the survival of one person. This increase in infertility may be the result of declining nutritional status, toxins in the environment or general sign of poor health,” feels medical nutrition consultant, Dr Kalpana Gupta Shekhawat.

While some factors are out of control, there are others that can be fixed by tweaking your diet. Here’s how.

Pomegranate has a considerable amount of antioxidants that protect sperms from becoming slow and incapable to fertilise an egg. Drinking its juice is also known to increase the sperm count and also fight erectile dysfunction, recommends Dr Shekhawat.

Pumpkin and seasame seeds contain a hefty dose of zinc, which increases testosterone and sperm count. They are also loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, which stimulate blood flow and improve sexual function, says Lovneet Batra, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Fortis La Femme, New Delhi.

Almonds and wheatgerm both are a good source of vitamin E, which can counteract the free radical damage to sperm motility and viability and help increase the count.

Green leafy vegetables, okra and lentils are rich source of Folate and vitamin B with antioxidant properties, crucial for keeping sperm free of chromosomal abnormalities. They also have arginine, which is important to both sperm count and motility.

While carrots, apricot and mango are rich source of vitamin A and helpful in sperm production; oils such as olive, rice bran and canola are also good options for cooking food. Remember to avoid coconut and palm oil though. These contain saturated fats while cotton seeds may contain toxic residues due to heavy spraying of cotton and its high level of gossypol, which inhibits sperm function, says Dr Shekhawat.

When it comes to things to avoid and stay away from then alcohol especially beer, junk food, and biscuits, cookies and sugar-rich foods top the list.

If you still feel that the diet is not helping much, it is best to take expert help. “Two people may be taking the same diet but may have varied fats and cholesterol levels by virtue of their individual genetic make-up. Your gene is known to vary cholesterol clearance rate. We govern its function in an individual and accordingly suggest food items and their portions. The results in this case are obviously more accurate,” explains Dr Amol Raut, head, R&D, Chief Wellness Advisor, GeneSupport.

To give you a complete picture of an ideal meal plan, we got Mumbai-based nutritionist Karishma Chawla to suggest a nourishing diet:

Breakfast: 1 bowl oats in skimmed milk + egg whites

Mid-morning: Any of fruits mentioned above, can add papaya/avocado also

Lunch: Whole wheat rotis with sesame seeds + 1-2 bowls green veggies + 1 bowl beans + salad or soup-mushroom/broccoli/spinach

Evening: Whole wheat roti/egg or chicken roll. Or whole wheat or multigrain bread egg or chicken sandwich

Dinner: Whole wheat rotis or 1 bowl quinoa or 1 bowl brown rice + stir veggies with mushrooms + bell peppers + asparagus + broccoli + French beans + portion of lean protein – chicken/skimmed paneer/fish

Please note: You can add a bowl of low fat yogurt to any meal; integrate fish oil, GLA supplements and vitamins into your daily diet; 6 almonds/walnuts can be eaten when hungry

Also, portion sizes are subjective to individual needs depending on body weight, activity level and specific goals.

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