Eating Bacon Hurts Sperm Quality

Whether it's generalized blowback from the "high-falutin'" foodie culture that's blossomed under writers like Michael Pollen and Eric Schlosser, or people mistaking the Ron Swanson character from "Parks and Recreation" as a role model instead of the caricature he is, the culture of bacon has dramatically shifted in the past few years. Where once the salted crispy pork bits were a nice occasional garnish, it is now celebrated to the point where some consider it vital as the central part of every meal.

And the culture has an aura of "this is what it means to be masculine" built into it. (I'm still not entirely sure what's so tough about going to a store, buying a package of bacon, frying, and eating it.) Currently, there is nothing manlier than eating bacon. Bacon in your eggs, bacon on your burger, bacon-wrapped bacon for dinner, bacon-infused lettuce to get your healthy greens for the day, followed by bacon in your ice cream, a dessert you now deserve after enduring that disgusting lettuce. Bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon. Bacon.

Ironic then, gentlemen, that all that bacon's making your sperm terrible.

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So says a new report from the Harvard School of Public Health that looks at how processed meat is affecting man's most sensitive of areas:

[Men] were each questioned how often they ate a range of foods including processed meat, white meat, red meat, white fish and tuna or salmon. Men who consumed just half a portion of processed meat a day had just 5.5 per cent 'normal' shaped sperm cells, compared to 7.2 per cent of those who ate less.

Now, bad sperm shape does not necessarily mean it contains chromosomal content that will negatively affect the genetics of a possible child, so much as that the possibility a child will be created is dramatically lessened. Think of it like this: The sperm is like a sailboat that has to navigate a torrential downpour and hurricane-force winds in order to get back into port. The only way for it to do so, then, is if the boat's in tip-top shape. No holes in the hull, no tears in the sail. Eating processed meat damages the ship.

One of the possibilities that researchers are pointing to as a reason processed meat is so caustic to a man's sperm-processing abilities is that red meat is thought to have high levels of pesticides. And pesticides, as we've seen before, aren't exactly the best things for your body to process.

As far as what can help improve the quality of your sperm, the two healthy-living constants of "exercise" and "eating plenty of fish" have been proven, once again, to be legit:

Men who ate the most dark meat fish -- including salmon, bluefish and tuna -- had a total sperm count about 34 percent higher than men who ate the least amount of fish.

Although, while general exercise was given the thumbs up, the specific activities of jogging and biking were found to either have zero or negative effect, respectively, in regards to sperm count. Which makes sense, seeing as those two exercises make a man's bits and pieces smack around like crazy. These are fragile parts we're talking about here, people! So if you're thinking about procreating, better ditch those and take up swimming.

But in case you were worried that the study was going to be 100% killjoy, it also contained this result that should have a large number of us rejoicing:

The results showed no negative relationship between alcohol and caffeine use and sperm count, quality and motility."

Hooray! Three cups of coffee in the morning and a nightcap before bed is still acceptable! As long as it's not bacon-infused coffee and alcohol. Which, now that I'm typing, doesn't seem like that terrible of an idea.

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About the Author

Rick Paulas has written plenty of things, some of them serious, many of them not, scattered over the vast expanses of the Internet. He lives in Los Angeles and is a White Sox fan.
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