We all know that what we eat has a big impact on our physical health. Being overweight increases your risks of serious medical issues, like heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.
But did you know your diet can have an influence on your sexual health, too? It’s true — and that’s actually good news, because it means that simply by paying attention to your nutrition, you can improve your sexual desire, sexual performance, and sexual satisfaction, too.
As a leading integrative medicine specialist in Glastonbury, Connecticut, Anita Petruzzelli, MD, offers patient-centered, holistic care for sexual health concerns at BodlyLogicMD, including dietary and nutritional guidance. Here’s what she wants you to know about how your eating habits could be affecting your sexual health.
There are plenty of stories about foods acting as aphrodisiacs, but sadly, those reports are anecdotal — not backed by clinical science (with one exception, noted below). The real link between food and diet has to do with optimizing your nutrition to improve your mood, your energy levels, and even your circulation.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and they play important roles in health. Arginine is an amino acid that improves your body’s production of nitric oxide, a chemical that widens your blood vessels for better blood flow. Improved circulation is important for erectile function, and it can heighten pleasure in women, as well.
Walnuts, almonds, leafy vegetables, some fruits, and certain fish contain arginine or another amino acid called L-citrulline that your body converts to arginine. You can also take L-citrulline supplements.
There’s one fabled aphrodisiac food source that might have a little truth in it: oysters. That’s because oysters are full of zinc, a mineral that plays a role in the production of testosterone, semen, and sperm. In women, zinc may have an effect on fertility, as well. Meat, beans, seeds, nuts, and fortified cereals are other excellent sources of zinc.
Fried foods, potato chips, and that extra side of bacon — they can be tempting, but they can also increase your cholesterol, increasing your risk of atherosclerosis (“clogged” arteries). High cholesterol causes plaques to form in your arteries, making it harder for blood to flow.
For men, circulation problems can lead to erectile dysfunction. Unhealthy fats also cause unwanted weight gain, another factor that can have a direct effect on our feelings of desire and desirability.
A diet high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure, another condition that contributes to erectile dysfunction. Hypertension lowers blood flow to the vagina, as well, which means diminished sensations and difficulty getting aroused.
Alcohol consumption is kind of a double-edged sword: Drink too much, and it can interfere with sexual performance; drink just a little, and it may heighten sexual desire.
Drinking too much has other negative side effects, like increasing the likelihood you’ll engage in risky behavior, like unsafe sex that can lead to infections or pregnancy. Overall, trying to adjust your alcohol intake for sexual pelasure is not a good idea, especially when other diet adjustments can be easier to achieve.
Too many people believe a loss of sexual desire, performance issues, and poor sexual satisfaction are “just part of getting older.” But sexual health problems are never normal, and often, issues can be corrected holistically, through diet, stress management, and other therapies.
If you have concerns about your sexual health, don’t “just live with it.” Call 860-375-4935 or book an appointment online at BodyLogicMD and learn how Dr. Petruzzelli can help.