Blue Zones and Male Fertility

Blue Zones and Male Fertility

Click here to learn about how the characteristics of Blue Zones, the regions where people live the longest, affect male fertility.

Blue Zones are the five regions of the world where people live the longest: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California. The longest-lived people in these regions share nine characteristics, identified by Dan Buettner and his team of researchers. The nine characteristics are:

  1. They feel a sense of purpose, a reason to wake up every morning.
  2. People in the blue zones follow the 80% rule, where they stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full. This maintains a healthy balance between gaining and losing weight.
  3. They limit their consumption of meat to about five times a month. Beans are the most fundamental food in their diets.
  4. People in all blue zones drink alcohol moderately, consuming 1-2 glasses (usually of wine) per day.
  5. They don’t force movement. Instead they follow a way of life that requires natural movement through daily activities like gardening.
  6. Although everyone experiences stress, people in blue zones follow routines to better cope and shed stress.
  7. Many people in blue zones belong to a faith-based community.
  8. They’re family-focused, keeping parents and grandparents close by. They’re committed to a partner and put effort into parenting their children.
  9. They live in close social circles that support a healthy way of life.

Many of these characteristics also have associations with fertility. For example, following a nutritious diet, including fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains, and consuming meat only a few times a week has been associated with improved semen and sperm quality. Following a high-fat, high-carbohydrate Western diet filled with processed foods is associated with poorer semen quality. It may be helpful to discuss a diet plan related to fertility with your healthcare provider.

Other lifestyle factors have also been shown to affect male fertility. For example, obesity, which is rare in blue zone centenarians, is shown to reduce semen quality and may contribute to infertility. A similar relationship exists between obesity and erectile dysfunction. Following a balanced diet with a physically active lifestyle is beneficial to both your overall and reproductive health.

All of these characteristics come back to balance–everything in moderation. Making choices that keep your body at its healthiest improves your overall wellness and keeps your reproductive system healthy, improving the quality of your sperm.