Vegetarians’ sperm woes

If you are a vegetarian bloke trying for a baby, cut out the soy for at least for 74 days beforehand.

That’s the advice from a study into the sperm counts of vegetarian Californian Seventh-Day Adventists, says Rick Powdrell, Bay of Plenty farmer and Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

Bay of Plenty farmer Rick Powdrell enjoys meat and three vegs.

“Not only were their sperm counts lower than for meat eaters, and they were less active too.”

The  research is from southern California’s Loma Linda University Medical School  which got worldwide attention following a four-year project into how diet affects sperm.

Researchers based their study on Seventh-Day Adventists, who don’t eat meat and live a decade longer than the average American. 

“They quite reasonably researchers assumed the diet of these vegetarian males would be reflected in quality sperm.  The result was the opposite,” says Rick

“I don’t want this to be an all-out assault on vegetarians but you have to wonder if meat substitutes may be a factor. According to Britain’s "The Telegraph", these researchers also found that omnipresent soy (in their diet) contains phytoestrogens, which is like the female hormone, oestrogen. 

“While I am no researcher I would think the higher life span of these Californian Seventh-Day Adventists may be more down to the absence of other problematic substances. It also makes me wonder about the benefits of other modern processed foods like high fructose corn syrup.  

"As a species we have been hunting gathering for 200,000 years and some of these highly processed foods are ‘blink of an eye’ innovations.”

As a confirmed omnivore Ricky says he has a sound diet by eating meat, vegetables and fruit in moderation.  “I know you can generally find Vitamin B12 in meat, whether that’s red, white or fish, as well as eggs and milk.  You need Vitamin B12 for healthy red blood cells and if you don’t have enough of them, you risk anaemia.

“Another fact I know is that meat, eggs and dairy products can provide you with most of your protein needs.  For sure, you can get protein from nuts and legumes, but what you cannot easily get from these products is iron. 

“Yet if you eat only meat you’d be doing your health a massive disservice.  We have evolved as omnivores over 200,000 years, so we’re just as happy happily chomping down on a t-bone steak as we are on the accompanying ‘three veg.’

“Having fruit and vegetables in your diet is essential for without them our health will suffer.  Adding meat provides vitamins, nutrients and fats we need to prosper and above all, they are delicious too.  As a farmer with a family we all appreciate our ‘meat and veg’ equally.”


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