Food intake and Epigenetic Alteration in the Spermatozoa of Singletons and Twins – Singletons Study.

A human dietary intervention study where participants receive different commonly consumed diet patterns and we are examining the impact it has on epigenetic markers in the sperm. This part of the study is with individual people, singletons. 


It is known that the epigenome of sperm cells can be changed when men are exposed to lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise or weight loss. Further, these epigenetic changes have been noted to occur at places on the DNA that may impact the health and development of their children. One lifestyle choice of which we are still working to understand the impact on the quality and epigenome of sperm is diet. Previous research in animals has shown that certain diets in fathers-to-be can potentially lead to altered health outcomes in their children. To help us better understand how the current modern diets of men may be effecting their sperm we designed the Food intake and Epigenetic Alteration in Spermatozoa of Singletons and Twins, also known as the FEASST study.


We will provide male participants with two specific diets, and we will collect health information and biological samples such as blood, semen, and saliva throughout. The diets will consist of a ‘Processed’ and ‘Unprocessed’ version. The aim of these two diets is to study the health effect of consuming a diet matching what men are supposed to eat versus what they are actually eating. The ‘Processed’ diet is based on the average food intake of American men and is made to represent what men of child-rearing age are presently eating and consists of food products that have undergone industrial processing with added sugar, enriched in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.  The ‘Unprocessed’ diet is based on the dietary guidelines for men from several countries, including Australia, the US, and Nordic Nations, meant to represent the current nutritional recommendations that are given to young men for optimal health and consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, unsaturated fats, lean protein, and fibre.

Participants will be given these diets for three-weeks, followed by a three-month break, and then another three-weeks eating the diet opposite to the one they had during the first three-weeks. Throughout the study various measurements are taken such as: body weight, sperm quality, blood levels of markers related to reproduction and metabolism, and survey information surrounding mental and physical health.

Once the study is completed, blood and semen samples will be further analysed in the lab to identify any epigenetic changes or patterns. We will look at epigenetic changes such as presence of RNA species and epigenetic-modifying features that interact with gene expression. We will analyse data from these experimental procedures to determine the relationship of different diets on the characteristics of sperm


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