A new study, published in PLOS Biology, has given new insight into the function of sperms suggesting that sperms are influenced by diet and the effects arise rapidly. A team of researchers at Linköping University said that this study may contribute to new diagnostic methods in the long term to measure sperm quality.
Anita Öst, senior lecturer in the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at Linköping University, said, "We see that diet influences the motility of the sperm, 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."
The researchers said that the sperm quality can be harmed by several environmental and lifestyle factors, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, which are well-known risk factors for poor sperm quality.
Can high consumption of sugar affect sperm?
The study to investigate whether high consumption of sugar affects the RNA fragments in human sperm. The researchers examined 15 normal, non-smoking young men who followed a diet in which they were given all food from the scientists for two weeks.
Based on the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations for healthy eating, the young men were provided a diet with just one exception. As a part of the change, the researchers added sugar during the second week corresponding to around 3.5 litres of fizzy drinks, or 450 grams of confectionery, every day.
The scientists investigated the sperm quality and other indicators of the participants' health thrice: once at the beginning of the study, after the first week(during which they ate a healthy diet), and after the second week (when the participants had additionally consumed large amounts of sugar).
Low sperm motility
According to the reports, one-third of the participants had low sperm motility at the beginning of the study. However, the researchers found that the sperm motility of all the participants became normal during the study.
The researchers explained that motility is one of the several factors that influence sperm quality. The fraction of people with low sperm motility in the study corresponded to that in the general population. In addition, the experts also discovered that the small RNA fragments, which are linked to sperm motility, also changed.
"The study shows that sperm motility can be changed in a short period, and seems to be closely coupled to diet. This has important clinical implications. But we can't say whether it was the sugar that caused the effect, since it may be a component of the basic healthy diet that has a positive effect on the sperm," said Öst, who was also the head of the study.