Men can improve their sperm health in just one or two weeks if they change their diet, suggests a new study at Linköping University in Sweden. The researchers, who published their study in PLOS Biology, found that male study subjects’ sperm became healthier or less healthy within days based on the study subjects’ daily intake of key nutrients.
The study tested 15 healthy, non-smoking young men and had them all follow a specified diet, in which they received all of their food from the researchers, for two weeks. During the second week, the researchers added about 450 grams of sugar—equal to around 3.5 liters of soft drinks—to the daily food regimen.
The researchers tested the subjects’ sperm at the start of the study, after the first week, and after the second week. One-third of the test subjects exhibited low sperm motility at the beginning, but all test subjects’ motility reached normal levels by the end of the first week.
“We see that diet influences the motility of the, and we can link the changes to specific molecules in them. Our study has revealed rapid effects that are noticeable after one to two weeks,” said Anita Öst, senior lecturer in the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at Linköping University, and head of the study.
The researchers also found that small RNA fragments that are related to sperm motility also changed during the course of the study. They now plan to investigate to find out if these RNA fragments affect male fertility itself, and whether the RNA code could be used to develop new diagnostic methods that in vitro fertilization procedures could use to assess sperm quality.