You’ve heard that you are what you eat. If you’re looking to conceive, you might want to be a fruit or vegetable. You’re better off being an oyster than a fat, juicy piece of steak. And if emerging studies bear any weight, you should be rich in antioxidants.
The benefits of antioxidants are widely published and well-known. They include protection against Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline, cancers and possibly heart disease.
Research is ongoing, but there’s a possibility that antioxidants also boost fertility. In recent clinical studies based in New Zealand, researchers found that sub-fertile men taking antioxidant supplements were four times more likely to conceive than sub-fertile men who didn’t.
Sub-fertile refers to men with lower sperm count than average, but still capable of conception. Researchers theorize that up to 80% of cases of delayed conception in sub-fertile men is attributable to the effects of oxidative stress on sperm cells, which lowers both count and quality.
Oxidation is a process in which molecules called free radicals damage DNA and cells’ ability to function.
Antioxidants are molecules, including certain vitamins and nutrients, that stabilize free radicals and thus protect cells.
In New Zealand, researchers analysed 15 studies of 96 pregnancies among 964 couples. Among these pregnancies, males who took antioxidant supplements boosted their chances of conception by four.
Researchers say it’s too early to conclusively say whether or not antioxidants alone can boost fertility. But antioxidant-rich foods, including green leafy vegetables and fruits are linked to higher fertility in men.
In other words, certain foods are proven to increase chances of conception. And if these foods are rich in antioxidants, as most are, there’s a good chance you’ll be adding a nursery to your house very soon.