The next time you skip the gym or reach for a cookie, you're not just damaging your health, you could be damaging your future kids' health, too. You have a line to protect, but what you will down to your heirs isn't just up to nature.
What you consume and how many times you hit the gym can actually boost your super-baby-making skills, according to new research. Turns out, you can actually change the strength of your genes by keeping in top shape.
“A father's diet and body composition at the time of conception is likely to affect his future child's health and risk of lifelong disease," said Tod Fullston, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the Robinson Institute, Research Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Adelaide in South Australia.
In other words, a fitter you at the time of conception means fitter sperm and fitter offspring. Boost your sperm count and fortify your DNA with these seven tips.
Super-charge Your Swimmers
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Studies show that diet does more than affect just your health – it actually affects the molecular makeup of your sperm. Healthier foods make for healthier sperm. Vitamin C, zinc, and folate are the strongest influencers on sperm DNA strength. A 2012 study found that men who consumed 90mg of vitamin C daily had 20 percent less sperm DNA damage. Eat a diet rich in lean red meat (zinc), spinach (folate), and kale (vitamin C) to keep everything in its fittest form below the belt.
One of the strongest health risks an unhealthy male passes on to his offspring is diabetes. A 2013 study published in the FASEB Journal found prediabetic conditions in males led to glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in offspring. In addition to causing a myriad of associated health risks, this trait can actually span accross multiple generations. Researchers at the University of Adelaide also found that this trait is often passed down to the second generation of offspring. When it’s time to fuel up, avoid processed carbs and stick to whole grains. Post-workout, skip the sugary sports drinks which typically carry a high glycemic load and try to rehydrate with coconut water (which packs more potassium than a banana) instead.
Research shows diets low in saturated fats are not only good for your heart health and six pack, but also garner higher quality semen. A study published in 2013 found that for every 5% increase in saturated fat, sperm count dove by 38%. The biggest offenders in the diets of men in the U.S.? Pizza and cheese, according to a study done by the Harvard School of Public Health. Skip the dollar slice and Nacho Night and your future pro-athlete offspring will thank you.
A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that too much time in the saddle can deliver a serious blow below the belt, negatively affecting sperm motility, development, and concentration. Follow this routine to increase your cardio capacity, save your scrotum, and protect the genes of your future triathletes.
Obesity is a huge strike against your future offspring becoming All-American athletes – as if washboard abs needed another favorable argument. A Danish study found that men with high BMIs experienced a 20% decrease in sperm concentration. Try this fat-burning abs circuit to solidify your core and the strength of your gene carriers.
A few beers isn't going to hinder your legacy; in fact, they’ll probably ensure a few stories to tell the grandkids. But repeated and excessive alcohol intake (more than three strong drinks) can do some real damage to more than just your liver. Studies show alcohol intake tanks your testosterone levels thus coding reduced testosterone levels into the genes you pass on. Researchers at Loyola University found that one too many can actually affect sperm production on three different levels, impairing hormone production in the brain all the way down to the testes.
We already know that downward dog can lead to steamier sex, but there’s also evidence that certain yoga poses strengthen your mind, body, and fertility. A 2014 study published in Fertility and Sterility found an inverse relationship between stress and sperm strength. Add cobra, downward-facing dog, and warrior poses one and two to your cool down to reap the stress-reducing benefits of yoga and increase blood flow to the groin.