Dear Doc | I'm nervous about okra and my manhood
Q. Dear Doc, I read an article last week in the newspaper that has me very nervous. I am a natural man and feel body problems can be fixed by the things we eat; so I was very shocked to read that okra can cause men to be infertile! I eat that on a regular and blend up my peanut and drink up my roots! So now I’m wondering if anything else I eating can affect my manhood, and how I can reverse all the okra damage? I would like to get another youth.
A. This question does not surprise me. I read the same article after it was sent to me numerous times by many male friends, asking if it is true, and if I believed, and the distressing exclamation, 'now me cyaan eat my steam fish and okra again?!', quickly followed similarly by, what to do now?
To those who may be unaware, the article stated that the okra seeds contains a substance that can reduce a man’s sperm count and sperm motility (movement). It went as far as to state that in some countries, it is taken by men to reduce their fertility; kind of like a male birth control, to make an analogy.
Sperm count refers to the average total number of sperm present in a sample of semen. Sperm count is one of several qualities that are assessed during routine semen analysis and is considered an important factor for fertility. Another quality that is assessed is sperm motility. Motility refers to effective movement of the sperm. Easily said, they are swimming in a purposeful directed manner, and not in circles. Motility is important, because even with a hight sperm count, if the motility is low, fertilization won’t be achieved.
Now back to the the question. Anything that impacts the hormones that control the production of sperm or acts as an anti-oxidant, can help improve sperm count. Those, factors that influence testosterone levels are thought to have the most significant impact on sperm number and quality.
Exercise and sleep have been shown to improve sperm count, and smoking has also long been known to reduce overall health, sperm production and quality.
Here are some natural ways that can help increase sperm count
1. Exercise and sleep
Several studies have shown that weight loss and exercise can lead to improved or increased sperm counts.
A study in 2017 found that a 16-week exercise program of at least 50 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise 3 times weekly, increased sperm volume and concentration in 45, obese men.
2. Reduce stress
A healthy diet and exercise can help to reduce stress.
Any form of stress can result in the body taking defensive action. In times of distress, it makes biological sense for the body to become less concerned with reproduction and more focused on surviving.Exercise and a healthy diet are thought to lessen the effects of stress on the body.
3. Stop smoking
Numerous different studies with nearly 6,000 participants have found smoking consistently reduces sperm counts.
4. Avoid excessive use of alcohol and drugs
Unlike with cigarettes, there are not many studies exploring the link between sperm health and drugs because of ethical reasons. However, some researchers have linked the use of alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine to decreased sperm production.
5. Avoid some prescription medications
Some prescription medications can reduce the production of healthy sperm. Once the drug is no longer being taken, the sperm count should return to normal or increase.
Medications that temporarily reduce the production and development of sperm include: some antibiotics, anti-androgens, anti-inflammatories, antipsychotics, corticosteroids, and anabolic steroids (up to 1 year recovery time)
6. Get enough vitamin D and calcium
We are not entirely sure why, but vitamin D and calcium appear to impact sperm health. Some studies have shown that low vitamin D intake corresponds to a lowered sperm count.
7. Indian ginseng
Indian ginseng, has for a long time been used in traditional medicines for several forms of sexual dysfunction. Researchers found that in 46 men with low sperm counts who took 675 milligrams (mg) of Indian ginseng daily for 90 days, saw a 167 percent increase in their sperm count.
8. Increase intake of antioxidant-rich foods
Several vitamins and minerals have shown to act as antioxidants, and several studies have linked antioxidant consumption with increased sperm count. Some Antioxidants that may lead to a healthy sperm count include, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, and selenium.
9. Increase healthy fat intake
Polyunsaturated fats or so-called healthy fats, such as omega -3 and omega-6, are crucial to the healthy development of the sperm membrane. It is suggested that you should consume these two omega compounds in equal quantities for ideal sperm development and antioxidant benefits.
10. Avoid foods with too much soy
Some foods, especially soy products, contain what is called phytoestrogens (plant estrogen), compounds that reduce testosterone bonding and sperm production.
You did mention you are a natural man, and where as supplements are a great way to get the recommended amounts of most vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, the body does not always absorb them; so the best way to increase sperm count naturally will be to increase the consumption of foods high in sperm count-boosting nutrients such as: bananas, dark chocolate, ginseng, walnuts, citrus fruits, whole wheat and grains most fish, most shellfish (especially oysters), vitamin D enhanced milk and milk products, garlic, broccoli, ginseng, turmeric, asparagus, leafy greens (especially spinach and kale), fermented nuts and seeds.