05 Jul 2019

Junk food irreversibly damages sperm by the time you’re 20: Harvard study

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Junk food irreversibly damages sperm by the time you’re 20: Harvard study

male fertility is being irreversibly damaged by a diet of western junk food by the time men reach 18, a study has found.

The researchers believe that processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells, or Sertoli cells. And though eating better can improve sperm health over time, Sertoli cells cannot be recovered — meaning, even if you eat better later in life, bad habits early on can do irrevocable damage to sperm production.

The researchers studied nearly 3,000 men ages 18 to 20 and found that vegetarians and those with diets rich in fruit, veggies, chicken and fish had higher sperm counts than those on a “Western diet” of processed meats and junk food. It’s almost certain that this is down to an effect that those with the better diets are taking in more antioxidants.

With pizza, chips and red meat we know that the [oxidative] stress goes up and that is bad for sperm.

Sperm counts have been declining in recent decades and various studies have pointed to poor diet as a significant cause.

However, they have tended to focus on older men – those in their late 20s, 30s and 40s who are struggling to conceive.

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