According to a new pilot study, a diet low in fat
and high in egg whites could be the key to boosting male fertility
The new research, by Dr. Karma Pearce from the University of South Australia in collaboration with fertility specialist Prof Dr Kelton Tremellen, Repromed, and Flinders University, presents a direct link between diet
, showing that what men eat could affect their fundamental male sex hormone.
The research is the first to identify that a diet
high in any type of fat
including healthy mono-saturated fats
such as olive oil, negatively impacts testosterone
production over as little as five hours, yet one supplemented with albumin
from egg whites, and to a lesser extent whey protein
, can positively affect serum testosterone
Worldwide, infertility affects 15 percent of couples, with the World Health Organization estimating that up to 25 percent of couples in developing countries are affected. While the causes are many and varied, 20-30 percent of the problems are attributed to male factors alone.
Dr. Karma Pearce, lead researcher, says the preliminary findings present controversial insights over the shorter five-hour term about the link between testosterone
and "healthy" monounsaturated fat
, which is popularly considered to be a component of a healthy diet
, including the Mediterranean dietary pattern.
Dr. Pearce told Thailand Medical
News, "There's an assumption that 'good' fats
and 'bad' fats
perform as they're described but what's surprising, is that it wasn't the type of fat
that mattered at all, as an equal amount of the good and bad fats significantly supressed testosterone
Although the researchers acknowledge they have tested individual nutrients and the effects may be different in the context of whole food dietary patterns, their earlier work has shown that "Western diets
' typified by fast food dietary pattern produced a 25 percent decrease in serum testosterone
within an hour of eating, with levels remaining suppressed below fasting baseline for up to four hours.
Dr. Pearce added, "In this study we also found that consuming albumen
, the protein in egg white
s increased testosterone levels, and did so by four-fold relative to fasting, while albumin
, combined with the bad saturated fat
somewhat ameliorated the effect of the bad fats
levels, providing another diet-based influencer of testosterone
The research study tested eight diet protocols (meals comprising polyunsaturated fat; monounsaturated fat; refined carbohydrate (orange juice); whey; egg white; and mixed meals of polyunsaturated fat and refined carbohydrate; polyunsaturated fat and egg white; refined carbohydrate (orange juice) and egg white) with four blood tests/hormone analyses taken before eating and at every hour afterwards for five hours.
The researchers say the study is one step in a series of work needed to support and enhance fertility.
Though the study only analyses the impact of various dietary macronutrients on testosterone production, not sperm quality, the researchers believe the study results suggest at least the potential for diet to negatively impact on sperm production and fertility. The findings are extremely promising for couples trying to start a family.
Dr. Pearce further adds, "It's important to note that it's still early days and more research needs to be done, particularly at looking at the effect of these nutrients in the context of whole food dietary patterns over the longer-term.”
The researchers plan as part of their next step is to evaluate the longer-term effect of these nutrients on testosterone levels in the context of whole food dietary patterns.
Reference : Karma L. Pearce et al. The Effect of Macronutrients on Reproductive Hormones in Overweight and Obese Men: A Pilot Study, Nutrients (2019). DOI: 10.3390/nu11123059