A new study shows that men who eat a handful of nuts everyday experience a better sperm count and quality that increases their fertility. The Spanish research team studied the effects of mixed tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts) for a total period of 14 weeks incorporated into their standard diet.
Taking nuts daily significantly improved the sperm count, morphology, and motility of the sperms making these men ‘more fertile’ than the other group which didn’t eat nuts.
Nuts have a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, and various antioxidants inside them, all of which ensure good sperm health and the least chances of abnormalities.
This study was conducted by the Human Nutrition Unit from the Universitat Rovira I Virgili (Spain). This work shows that nuts can change the epigenetics of the sperm and interestingly, food choices can easily change the ability of a sperm to fertilize.
Epigenetics is the branch of molecular sciences which deals with the expression and variations in terms of various genes. Modifying the gene expression is easier than changing the genetic code, so there is no need to change the genes when there is a chance to activate or turn on some specific genes or turn off/ deactivate them in living organisms.
Typically, the environment and certain lifestyle changes are linked with unhealthy sperms and infertility. Dietary habits, smoking, and alcoholism can also cause a decline in sperm health. some of the previous studies confirmed a link between semen quality and modifying the gene expression.
For this new study, the research team lead by Salas-Huetos used the DNA methylation process to control the activation and deactivation of genes. This process is more of an epigenetic marker through which researchers can switch on or switch off certain genes.
It works by adding a methyl group (CH3) to a marked point of DNA. It changes the expression of a gene and can switch off some genes for example those which cause diseases like cancer.
Interestingly, the process of generating new sperm cells (spermatogenesis) and the process of creating embryos (embryogenesis) are highly controlled procedures that work under specific gene expression. It means it is easy to control gene expression for improving the sperm quality in men which is achieved with eating nuts in routine.
The research team studied 72 healthy and young men all of which had no history of smoking or substance abuse. Nearly 48 of them were added into the experimental group which was given nuts daily. The remaining 24 participants were added to another group called the control group and not fed with nuts.
Every participant in the experimental group received 60 grams of mixed tree nuts every day. These nuts included walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. There were no other changes made to their routine diet.
Both groups were evaluated after 14 weeks. The analysis of the experimental group showed that 36 of the genomic areas had a different type of methylation. This increased methylation was proof that using nuts every day can improve the sperm quality through methylation on specific parts of DNA.
The complete study findings are published in the journal Andrology.