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Your sperm are what you eat, study suggests
Reuters US Online Report Health News
Nov 18, 2011 16:24 EST
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – When it comes to in vitro fertilization, well-fed sperm are happy sperm, according to a new study that found what men eat (and drink) is linked to the chances their partner will become pregnant during fertility treatment.
A fertility-friendly diet is one that’s high in fruit and grains and low in red meat, alcohol and coffee, Brazilian researchers report in the journal Fertility and Sterility.
While previous work has linked being too heavy or too thin, as well as smoking and drinking, with reproductive problems in women, it hasn’t been clear if the same applies to men during IVF treatment.
“We talk about having a healthy lifestyle and trying to eliminate any of these things that are bad for health, but I think most of the emphasis tends to be on making sure the woman is as healthy as possible,” said Dr. Lynn Westphal, a women’s health and fertility specialist at Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, California.
The new study “Reinforces that it’s important for both the male and the female to be eliminating as many bad things in their diet or their life as possible,” Westphal, who wasn’t involved in the research, told Reuters Health.
The new study involved 250 men who, together with their partners, were undergoing a type of fertility treatment called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) at one center. Researchers asked the men how often they ate a range of foods, including fruits and vegetables, beans, grains, meat and fish, as well as how much they drank and smoked.
They also got semen samples from the men to analyze how healthy and well concentrated their sperm were and kept track of how every step of the IVF process went for each couple.
Eggs were successfully fertilized in about three-quarters of the treatments, and just under four in ten women got pregnant during the study.
From the speed of their sperm to their partner’s chance of pregnancy, men who imbibed and ate poorly were slowed down on the fertility front.
Being overweight and drinking alcohol were linked to lower sperm concentration and motility — how well sperm swam. Smoking was tied only to negative effects on motility. Alcohol and coffee were both linked to a lower chance of fertilization. Embryo implantation rates, as well as pregnancy rates, were significantly lower when men ate lots of red meat.
On the other hand, eating more cereal grains (such as wheat, oats or barley) was associated with improved sperm concentration and motility, and fruit was also linked to a speed and agility boost in sperm.
“I think this is really interesting data that lifestyle factors for the men, even when you’re doing ICSI, are significant,” Westphal said. “This is probably more of a difference than most people would have thought.”
The findings are consistent with the idea that certain vitamins, minerals and amino acids may help maintain or improve semen quality, while too much alcohol and certain hormones in processed meat could be harmful to sperm, wrote Dr. Edson Borges, Jr. from the Fertility-Assisted Fertilization Center in Sao Paulo and his colleagues.
Westphal pointed out that other behaviors in men, such as spending a lot of time in hot tubs, could hinder fertility treatment success. She added that any diet and lifestyle changes men might make to try to improve their sperm are going to take a few months to pan out — so it’s not just about eating better for a few days before IVF.
In couples undergoing fertility treatment, Borges and his colleagues concluded, both men and women should know that their diets and lifestyles may affect their chance of having a successful pregnancy.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/vJVFYj Fertility and Sterility, online November 10, 2011.
Source: Reuters US Online Report Health News
Overweight people eat fewer meals than others
Kimberly Hayes Taylor
Reuters US Online Report Health News
Nov 18, 2011 20:00 EST
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Normal weight adults, including those who had lost a lot of weight and kept it off, ate more often than overweight people in a new study looking at factors that may help in preventing weight gain.
Researchers following about 250 people for a year found that overweight individuals ate fewer snacks in addition to meals than people in the normal body weight range, but the overweight still took in more calories and they were less active over the course of the day.
“Most of the research has shown that people who eat more frequently have a lower weight,” said lead researcher Jessica Bachman, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “But no one knows why.”
In particular, Bachman told Reuters Health, she wanted to understand what people who have lost significant amounts of weight do to maintain their weight loss, as a first step to helping guide others in losing weight and keeping it off.
More than 60 percent of Americans are obese or overweight, but the relationship between the number of meals people eat each day and the ability to maintain weight loss has remained unclear, she said.
Bachman and her team analyzed data collected in two large studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. One looked at the eating habits of people with a body mass index (a measure of weight relative to height) between 25 and 47, which is considered overweight to obese.
The other study looked at adult men and women who were normal weight (BMI of 19-24.9), about half of whom had lost at least 30 pounds and maintained their lower weight for more than five years.
The researchers found that, on average, the normal weight subjects ate three meals and a little over two snacks each day, whereas the overweight group averaged three meals and just over one snack a day.
Generally, though, “weight loss maintainers” consumed the fewest calories, at about 1,800 a day, compared with the normal weight and overweight subjects, who took in 1,900 and more than 2,000 calories a day, respectively.
Weight loss maintainers also were the most physically active of the three groups, Bachman said, burning off about 3,000 calories a week through exercise and other activities, compared to 2,000 calories a week among the normal weight subjects and 800 calories a week in the overweight group.
The results, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, suggest that weight loss maintainers intentionally do more to keep from regaining extra pounds, Bachman said.
“It appears that being extremely physically active and eating more often helps them keep the weight off,” she said. “Most commonly, they were walking at least 60 minutes a day seven days a week.”
Bachman believes her study is the first to compare eating frequencies among successful weight loss maintainers, other normal weight people and those who are overweight.
She speculates that snacking might help prevent weight gain by staving off intense hunger.
“If you eat more often, it stops you from getting too hungry,” Bachman said. “If you wait 10 hours after you’ve last eaten, you end up eating a lot more food. If you sit down and you’re really hungry, you also tend to eat more calories.”
More research is needed, Bachman added, because the reasons that eating more often tends to be associated with having a lower BMI are still unclear.
“This is kind of research as a baseline, and from there we can develop some hypotheses,” Bachman said. “Weight loss maintainers are a new group that really is starting to get a lot of attention. The idea is to find out what they are doing, and get other people to do the same thing.”
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/rR7jcN Journal of the American Dietetic Association, November 2011.
Source: Reuters US Online Report Health News