What you eat affects more than your waistline—it also may impact your semen. According to the journalHuman Reproduction, men who eat more omega-3 fatty acid had higher-quality semen than men who skimped on omega-3s. Consuming lots of saturated fat was also associated with lower semen quality than men who limited sat fats.
That’s not to say that either of these caused the effects on sperm quality—it only establishes a correlation, says study author Jill Attaman, M.D., who was at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School at the time the research was conducted. (That’s important to remember when you read about saturated fats, which have been wrongly demonized for years. Don’t believe us?
When the day arrives that you want kids, you want your semen in top-notch condition. So here are some baby—er, simple—steps you can take to keep your sperm strong and healthy.
Hit the Gym
You probably work out to keep your heart healthy and sculpt a six pack. But with each dumbbell you curl, you help your swimmers grow stronger, too. Research shows that regular exercise triggers the production of testosterone, which supports sperm and semen health.
Skip the Smoky Bars
Sure, you don’t smoke. But what about that hot girl next to you puffing away? Turns out, she might be shrinking your chances of having kids. A mouse study found that exposure to secondhand smoke damages sperm DNA—and those mutations could be passed along to baby mice. Don’t care about mutant mice sperm? You should. Researchers say the data collected for mice is compelling evidence that human exposure to secondhand smoke could have similar outcomes.
Holding a laptop on your lap or sitting on heated car seats—basically anything that puts direct heat on the scrotum—can fry your swimmers. Check out these other surprising items that may be damaging your goods.