Sperm Count: Ayurvedic Perspective
Ayurveda is an ancient medicinal healing system which focuses on the health and well-being of individuals with the help of right diet and lifestyle habits. In Ayurvedic texts like the ‘CharakaSamhita’, it is mentioned that a healthy sperm count in males is a result of a proper balance of the different energies in the body as well as a healthy diet and regular exercise.
‘Sperm count’ refers to the average total number of sperms present in one sample of semen. A low concentration of spermatozoa (sperm) in the semen is one of the main causes of infertility in men. According to the World health Organization (WHO), the sperm count in the semen of a man is considered to be ‘normal’ when the concentration of sperms is at least 20 million per ml. If the concentration of sperms is lower than the normal level, it is an indication of a condition called ‘Oligospermia’.
In Ayurveda, Oligospermia is called ‘ShukranuAlpata’.Ayurvedic texts have clearly described the reasons for low sperm count in men. Some of these reasons include obesity, improper eating habits, old age, stress, physical or mental overexertion, wearing tight underpants, using very hot water for baths, and health conditions like diabetes. Along with discussing the reasons for low sperm count, the texts also underline the specific ways in which men can increase the quality and the quantity of sperms.
From the Ayurvedic perspective, infertility treatment specifically includes the cure of problems such as indigestion. Ayurveda experts believe that indigestion leads to the formation of toxins (ama) which can reduce sperm count by blocking the channels that carry the semen. Therefore, going by Ayurvedic principles, healthy sperm count can be maintained by eating wholesome foods and staying physically fit.
Ayurvedic Diet for Healthy Sperm Count
According to Ayurveda, the diet for healthy sperm count should include a combination of foods which are rich in proteins and nutrients, fatty, and sweet. Such foods can reduce stress levels and keep the body and mind healthy. Hence, for men who have a low sperm count, Ayurveda recommends some significant dietary changes as a natural remedy.
In accordance with Ayurvedic texts, the diet for a healthy sperm count should comprise foods which contain zinc, folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin D, L-arginine, Coenzyme Q10, and other beneficial nutrients. In particular, Ayurvedic diet for healthy sperm count should include the following foods:
Foods containing Polyunsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats — also called ‘healthy’ fats –can promote the healthy development of the sperm membrane. These fats contain two essential Omega compounds, Omega 3 and Omega 6, which can reduce bad cholesterol levels, increase the flow of oxygen to the testicles, and improve sperm count. Foods that contain healthy fats commonly include ghee, olive oil and other plant-based oils, fish and seafood, fortified eggs, walnuts, flaxseed, yogurt, and beverages.
Foods that have abundance of zinc are also an important part of Ayurvedic diet for healthy sperm count. Zinc-rich foods can prevent sperm from damage caused by free radicals and can also stimulate the libido. Some of the foods which are an excellent source of zinc are whole wheat grains, dairy products, , nuts and seeds, beans, and fortified cereals.
Fruits like Bananas and Berries
Bananas are considered as a rich and satiating food, with an abundance of magnesium, Vitamins B1, and Vitamin C. The fruit is an excellent source of energy and stamina, and can increase the production of sperms because of the presence of a rare enzyme called Bromelain.
Besides bananas, other fruits known for their ability to increase sperm quality and production are the berries — including goji berries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries— because they contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. The intake of goji berries, in particular, can improve the temperature around the scrotum (A sac of skin that hangs from the body at the front of the pelvis, between the legs.) and leads to high sperm count.
Leafy-green vegetables like spinach and lettuce are cholesterol-free foods, rich in folic acid, iron, proteins, and nutrients. These vegetables are an important part of Ayurvedic diet for healthy sperm count because they can build the ojas, improve energy levels,and stimulate the circulation of blood to all parts of the body.
Foods that contain Antioxidants
Foods containing antioxidants, especially Vitamin C, are also beneficial for increasing male fertility. The intake of Vitamin C can increase sperm count and motility, and eliminate/deactivate free radicals and other compounds which damage cells. Some common antioxidant-rich foods include citrus fruits, fortified breakfast cereals, dairy products, meats and poultry, and sweet peppers. Moreover, fruits like kiwi and pomegranates, and vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes can also improve sperm count.
Garlic has the ability to improve the production of sperms in the scrotum. The presence of ‘allicin’ in garlic can ensure the flow of blood to the sex organs and protect them from damage, while the ‘selenium’ enzyme can enhance sperm motility.
The use of fenugreek seeds in daily cooking is also a very useful Ayurvedic remedy for increasing sperm count. Fenugreek can improve sperm health and sperm count because of the presence of a compound called ‘Furosap.’ The intake of fenugreek seeds can specifically maintain healthy levels of the ‘testosterone’ male hormone.
Ayurvedic diet for increasing sperm count should also include the intake of pumpkin seeds either as a raw snack or as salad toppings. These seeds are abundant in antioxidants, amino acids, andphytosterols which can have a useful effect on male fertility. Pumpkin seeds can particularly be helpful in overall virility in men by in increasing the count and motility of sperms.
Daily consumption of cooked lentils, in the form of dal, is also considered the effectof catalyst for increasing the production of sperms. Lentils are a remarkable source of folic acid which can treat chromosomal abnormalities in men.
Along with an Ayurvedic diet, Ayurveda experts also recommend the use of some beneficial herbs categorised as ‘vajikaranadravya’for keeping the sperm count healthy. These herbs include SafedMusli(Chlorophytumborivilianum), Shilajit(Asphaltum), Ashwagandha(Withaniasomnifera), and Shatavari(Asparagus racemosus). However, for best guidance with regard to Ayurvedic diet and herbs/herbal supplements for improving sperm count, it is advisable to seek help from an expert Ayurveda practitioner.