Study shows that diet has rapid effects on sperm quality

Sperm are influenced by diet, and the effects arise rapidly. This is the conclusion of a study by researchers at Linköping University, in Sweden, in which healthy young men were fed a diet rich in sugar. The study, which has been published in PLOS Biology, gives new insight into the function of sperm, and may in the long term contribute to new diagnostic methods to measure sperm quality.

“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,” says Anita Öst, senior lecturer in the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at Linköping University, and head of the study.

“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,” says Anita Öst.

The researchers also found that the small RNA fragments, which are linked to sperm motility, also changed. They are now planning to investigate whether there is a link between male fertility and the RNA fragments in sperm. They will also determine whether the RNA code can be used for new diagnostic methods to measure sperm quality during in vitro fertilization.

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