Long-term inflammation has been found responsible for the damage of healthy tissues and is thought to compromise the immune system. Inflammation is regarded by the scientific community as being one of the instigators of many diseases, including heart disease and cancer. One of the earliest indicators of heart disease is erectile dysfunction. The body requires good blood circulation and, as the penile arteries are smaller than the coronary ones, they are more prone to becoming blocked. According to some scientific studies, men in their 40s with erectile dysfunction bear a 50-fold greater risk of having a heart attack over the succeeding ten years. A low intake of omega-3 has also been implicated in infertility. Studies have demonstrated that men possessing low sperm count and poor sperm motility, also exhibit low levels of prostaglandins (a group of physiologically active lipid compounds having diverse hormone-like effects in human and animals).
Advice: Try to eat one or two servings of oily fish per week – grilling, baking or steaming all constitute healthy cooking techniques. It is preferable to consume the whole fish rather than resorting to fish oil supplementation; research indicates that it is the synergistic interplay between the micronutrients in whole fish that will deliver the health benefits.
(Brazil) Nuts and Seeds
Health Impact: Heart, Fertility
Nuts are highly nutritious foods, rich in heart-healthy fats as well as delivering a powerhouse of nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin E and B-vitamins. Monounsaturated fats have also been shown to improve blood cholesterol levels and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nuts have also been associated with better blood glucose control. Magnesium delivers important benefits for heart health, as it helps in the maintenance of a regular heart beat. Moreover, Brazil nuts are a rick source of B-vitamins, which facilitate the conversion of food into energy. Brazil nuts are also rich sources of selenium. This mineral is involved in the production of proteins found in sperm.
Research shows that the blood levels of selenium are lower in men possessing low sperm counts. Selenium plays a number of other roles in the body, including optimizing the immune system and the formation of enzymes that protect the body from free radical damage. It has been said that selenium plays a protective role against cancer onset, in particular prostate cancer. However, the evidence implicating selenium in prostate health has not been demonstrated in randomized controlled trials.
Advice: try to select the raw varieties of nut, avoiding the dry roasted and unsalted versions. Nuts are very energy dense, so portion control is key. Stick to 2 tablespoons (one small handful).
Zinc – lean red meat and poultry, seafood i.e. oysters and shrimps
Health impact: fertility, prostate health
Zinc has many functions in the body, including immune system optimization, wound healing, DNA synthesis and testosterone production. This trace mineral is important in the male reproductive system and spermatogenesis. High concentrations of zinc are found within sperm cells, which make it a noteworthy mineral for male fertility; in fact, zinc deficiency has been shown to be responsible for decreased testicular function in infertile males. This mineral has also been associated with optimal prostate health and research suggests it may help to reduce the development of an enlarged prostate.
Advice: Red meat is very nutritious but try and limit yourself to no more than 500g per week to reduce the risk of bowel cancer. Try exploring other plant-based sources such as seeds, green vegetables, peas, pulses and nuts.
Oats are a rich source of soluble fibre ensuring a slow, steady release of sugar, which will keep you satiated for longer. Fibre helps to keep at bay colorectal cancer and maintains a healthy digestive system. In addition, oats are especially rich in B-glucan, a compound that promotes LDL-cholesterol reduction, reducing cardiovascular disease risk.
Tip: add oats to yogurt as a healthy snack or breakfast, and include oats as a core ingredient in smoothies.