Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve and maintain an erection long enough to give a satisfactory sexual performance. It is deemed reasonable only when it occurs infrequently. Over 50 percent of men encounter it at least once in their lifetime, but frequent incidences is a definite red flag.
Many factors contribute to this. They include physical factors caused by aging or underlying medical conditions, psychological factors relating to mental health issues, and lifestyle factors like your diet. That last one is our focus today—the relationship between diet and erectile dysfunction.
- What is the link between diet and erectile dysfunction?
- What can you do to improve your diet and ED?
- Foods you should avoid
- Other activities that might help with erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction occurs either due to restricted blood flow to the penis, psychological factors like stress and anxiety, or lifestyle factors. Several lifestyle factors contribute to reduced blood flow, with diet being among one of the main factors.
In fact, according to a Massachusetts study, there exists a direct correlation between diet and erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction spikes in men who eat a diet rich in processed and fatty foods, as well as those who smoke and frequently consume or over-consume alcohol.
Processed fatty foods, red meat, and alcohol contribute to high LDL cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high triglyceride levels in the bloodstream. These can clog and contract blood vessels that transport blood throughout the body, limiting its flow. Of these blood vessels are those carrying blood to and from the penis. The restricted blood flow to the penis eventually leads to erectile dysfunction.
Generally, foods that are detrimental for your vascular system are harmful to your sexual ability as well. Unhealthy foods high in sugar, dairy, and fats, are good examples.
Instead, you should consume a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats like fish. An example of such a diet is the Mediterranean diet. There is research backing this claim.
A study was done to find the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and erectile dysfunction. The research sampled 100 men with ED and 100 men of the same age without ED.
Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was measured in all participants with a 0 score indicating the least, and 9 indicating the most.
The score in ED men was 4.7 while that among non-ED men was higher at 5.4. What does this signal? Men with high adherence to the Mediterranean diet did not suffer from ED as often when compared to their counterparts.
It might also indicate that adherence to the Mediterranean diet can reduce erectile dysfunction.
For an erection to occur, blood must be pumped from the heart to the penis through the arteries. Your arteries need to be in good shape, and not clogged up or reduced in size. A clogged or contracted artery might point to an ailing endothelium, the single layer of cells lining the arteries.
When healthy, endothelium produces nitric oxide gas, which helps control expansion and dilation, preventing clotting and hardening of arterial walls — low production of nitric oxide results in dissatisfactory arterial performance.
Everyday habits can damage the endothelium, like eating fatty, processed foods. So to keep the endothelium in top shape, eat food rich in nitrates and nitric oxide, L-citrulline, and L-arginine amino acids; these amino acids aid in the production of nitric oxide as well.
In one study, 17 men ate 100 grams of pistachios daily for three weeks. After the three weeks, they reported a spike in sexual performance, sexual desire, blood flow, and the ability to achieve and maintain an erection. That is because pistachios contain L-arginine, which helps in the production of nitric oxide. Additionally, they have antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Despite the whopping 92 percent water content in watermelon, and only 8 percent being laden with nutrients, the 8 percent includes plenty of L-citrulline. L-citrulline aids in the production of nitric oxide, which in turn improves circulation. A 2007 research study revealed that daily drinking of watermelon juice improves the circulation of blood throughout the body by increasing L-citrulline levels in the blood.
Green Leafy Vegetables Such as Spinach and Kale
Green leafy vegetables naturally contain nitrates. Nitrates, as covered above, are vasodilators. Vasodilators increase the production of nitric oxide in the blood vessels, which opens up the arteries and allows ample circulation of blood, thus facilitating erections.
Cocoa is rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are naturally occurring antioxidants responsible for protecting plants, in this case, the cocoa plant, against toxins and for aiding cell repair. Additionally, flavonoids increase the production of nitric oxide in the blood vessels, thus, improving circulation.
Please note that natural cocoa has the highest concentration of flavonoids. Once processed into milk chocolate, the amount of flavonoids significantly reduces. The addition of sugar and fats during processing makes it a high-sugar, unhealthy snack, and foods high in sugar are linked to increased ED.
Cacao nibs, Dutch-processed cocoa, and 80 percent cocoa dark chocolate (in moderation) are good alternatives to milk chocolate.
Flavonoids are also present in specific fruits, vegetables, and beverages, namely berries, apples, spinach, grape juice, and red wine.
Tomatoes contain a phytonutrient called lycopene. This antioxidant aids in the production of nitric oxide within the blood vessels, which helps to improve circulation in the blood vessels. Other foods that have shown to improve erectile functioning include pomegranates, apples, and citrus fruits.
You may note that coffee is not on this list despite it being proven to reduce ED by up to 39 percent. The reason is that coffee is an antidepressant beverage which leads to an increase in the production of adrenaline in the bloodstream.
Adrenaline primarily aids in priming the body in the flight or fight response, sending a message to the brain that the body preparing to fight a looming threat.
The brain’s priority becomes protecting the body and not engaging in sex. Its positive benefits come in the form of increasing energy when depression or low energy levels are the cause of sexual dysfunction.
The relationship between diet and erectile dysfunction is implicit and impacts erectile dysfunction in two significant ways.
- Cardiovascular health
- Hormonal balance
The foods we eat directly affect our cardiovascular health, causing conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and narrow or clogged arteries, influencing how blood flows through your body.
Consuming large amounts of foods rich in unhealthy fats is likely to cause cardiovascular disease and, over time, erectile dysfunction.
Hormones are responsible for controlling bodily functions such as erections. Foods are ingredients used to manufacture hormones. If we supply the body with deficient nutrients, it will produce an imbalance of hormones.
If we give the body the correct nutrients, it will churn out the correct balance of hormones.
Dairy products are rich in saturated fats. Saturated fats increase the number of fats in the bloodstream, raising the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases (like high levels of LDL cholesterol).
The fats might also deposit on the arterial walls. These deposits narrow the arteries and blood vessels and ultimately inhibit their performance.
Fried foods also contain high amounts of fats. These fats clog arteries and blood vessels and increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, weight gain from fried foods occurs at a quicker rate than when eating organic foods.
Rapidly adding weight without exercising leads to obesity, and obesity is a high-risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, which reduce natural blood flow to the penis, yet another link between diet and erectile dysfunction.
Consuming surplus animal fats leads to clogging of the arteries and blood vessels. Red meat especially causes more adverse consequences, and it is advisable to limit the consumption of red meat to once a week.
You could opt for white meats such as fish or chicken. These are heart-healthy fats, which do not negatively affect cardiovascular functions.
Alcohol is technically not food, but a poison. Frequent consumption presents adverse consequences on sexual health and wellbeing. Alcohol inhibits the production of testosterone, responsible for controlling sexual functions.
Alcohol, especially beer, contains high levels of estrogen, and the consumption of excess estrogen throws off the body’s hormonal balance, and as a consequence can suppress testosterone production.
Smoking isn’t a good idea at the best of times and especially not when you have erectile dysfunction. It contracts and hardens the walls of arteries and blood vessels, inhibiting the flow of blood during sexual arousal.
Besides eating or avoiding the above select foods, other diet choices and activities can help improve erectile dysfunction.
Along with diet, erectile dysfunction can be affected by regular exercise. A Harvard study revealed that walking as little as 30 minutes a day can drop erectile dysfunction by a staggering 41 percent.
In addition to walking, partaking in any exercise that increases your heart rate, like running, jogging, or swimming are great choices.
Exercising also aids in the shedding of excess weight, and fats which might block the arterial walls; resulting in an open flow of blood to sexual organs.
Be careful, however, of any activity that exerts excessive pressure on the perineum (the area between anus and scrotum). The extra stress on that area can damage blood vessels around the penis.
A typical example of such exercise is biking, and if you’re a frequent biker, make sure to wear appropriate padded cycling pants and alternate between pedaling and sitting to reduce friction on the penile area. This in-depth article covers more on suitable kinds of exercises for you.
Excess weight increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease. Excess weight is also often related to excess fat deposits in the blood.
This fat can clog and narrow the blood vessels, or harden artery walls. All this impedes blood flow, which is one of the leading causes of physical erectile dysfunction.
In one research study, a trim waistline was proven to reduce the likelihood of suffering from erectile dysfunction. The study illustrates that a man with 52-inch waistline is 50 percent more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction compared to a 42-inched individual.
Blood Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol levels block blood vessels and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Visit the doctor to get your cholesterol levels checked regularly, and if elevated, immediately seek treatment for the condition.
The Keto Diet
The Keto diet encompasses a low-carb, high-fat, moderate protein diet. It causes quick weight loss among both men and women. While weight loss can help in matters of gaining an erection, is it beneficial in the long run?
This research study sheds some light on the relationship between the keto diet and erectile dysfunction. It suggests that switching to keto can result in ED. The dietary change imbalances hormones, possibly affecting your sexual life. Once in ketosis, healthy sexual function, even a sexual surge, has been reported to resume.
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Viasil works by increasing the production of nitric oxide, which, as mentioned above, is vital for smooth blood flow to the penis, vital for stimulating an erection.
Dissatisfactory sexual experiences due to erectile dysfunction can lower your self-esteem, aggravate stress, and worsen existing relationship conflicts. Luckily, it’s a condition that is easily treatable.
A slight change in diet can massively reduce ED. After all, what we eat has a direct correlation to sexual functioning. Stay clear of processed, fatty foods high in dairy and animal fats, alcohol, and smoking.
Instead, incorporate more green leafy vegetables, fruits like pomegranate, apples, tomatoes, watermelon, legumes, white meats, and nuts like pistachios.
You can also use Viasil to supplement your diet. It is all-natural and works exactly like the natural foods discussed above. Delivery is free worldwide, and you are protected by our iron-clad 60-day money back guarantee.