One area that is closely associated with diet is the libido or sex drive. Those who experience sexual dysfunction may be surprised to find that through dietary improvement their difficulties may be alleviated. Having a strong understanding of how diet influences libido, recognizing and avoiding libido-reducing foods, and incorporating the right foods into your diet may lead to the restoration of your sex drive.
How Does Diet Affect Libido?
How much we eat, when we eat, and what type of foods we eat all influence various elements of the libido. Some of the most prominent areas impacted by diet include hormone balance, energy level, and blood flow.
Libido is mostly fueled by the primary sex hormones, testosterone, and estrogen. These can be influenced greatly by a number of different foods. An imbalance of hormones in men or women can cause significant fluctuations in libido. Ideally, an individual follows a well-balanced diet that avoids substances such as endocrine disruptors, pesticides, and artificial foodstuffs that are well-recognized for their hormone-disrupting qualities.
Perhaps the simplest relation between libido and diet is energy level. In order to be physically active, the body must have the fuel needed to perform. Therefore, it is important to eat the appropriate amount and types of food to remain energetic and active. Undereating or overeating can leave you feeling too fatigued or lethargic to engage in sexual activity. Furthermore, poor eating habits can contribute significantly to obesity.
Obesity is not only a major health concern, but it may also contribute to sexual dysfunction and poor libido. It is well documented that heavier males tend to exhibit lower levels of testosterone, resulting in reduced libido and greater occurrence of sexual dysfunction. A study done at Duke University found that obese individuals are 25 times more likely to be dissatisfied with their sex life than those at a healthy weight. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight provides many libidinal benefits such as improved arterial health and blood flow, greater prevalence of testosterone, and more physical stamina.
Is My Diet to Blame?
There are many common inclusions in the western diet that can negatively affect your libido. If you find that your diet contains a high volume of the following substances, there is a good chance that your libido will begin to suffer if it has not already.
Processed foods have most of the nutritional value sapped from them before they are packaged. By eating primarily processed foods, the body is unable to get the nutrients it needs to maintain healthy bodily function including libido. Furthermore, over-consumption of processed foods can contribute to insulin resistance and the development of diabetes, which in turn increases the risk of obesity and erectile dysfunction.
Saturated fats and trans fats limit blood flow to the genitals, which can severely inhibit sexual performance and drive. Furthermore, the high consumption of these fats increases the risk of arterial clogging, which further impedes blood flow and increases the risk of heart disease. Limiting consumption of items containing saturated or trans fats including fried foods, fast-foods, prepackaged snack foods like crackers, cookies, and frozen pizzas, can improve multiple areas of health including libido.
Eating sugar encourages insulin production, which promotes the storage of belly fat. Belly fat increases estrogen levels in men, which can reduce libido and contribute to erectile dysfunction. Greater consumption of sugar may also trigger a significant decline in testosterone. A 2013 study published in Clinical Endocrinology found that the average level of testosterone dropped by 25 percent in the test population, males aged 19 to 74 after they consumed 75 grams of sugar. Worse still, levels remained suppressed for up to two hours.
Can Diet Help Get the Bounce Back in Your Step?
As much as diet can harm your libido, it can also support it. The foods we eat can encourage symptoms of arousal, promote lubrication, improve hormone production, and increase blood flow; all of which play a role in the libidinal activity. Eating more of the following foods can help restore your sex drive.
Perhaps the most well-known aphrodisiac and libido boosters are oysters. These shellfish have a strong positive influence on hormone production, particularly testosterone and dopamine. Higher levels of these hormones promote sensations of happiness, satisfaction, and drive, all of which contribute to arousal.
Because cholesterol is an essential component of building hormones, those who do not get enough healthy fat in their diet are more likely to have a low libido. Healthy fats such as those found in wild-caught fish, avocados, olives, and walnuts, support the production of various hormones including estrogen and testosterone. These foods also contain a large amount of Omega-3 fatty acids which further support hormone production and provide other benefits including neuroprotection.
Foods that Improve Blood Flow
Increasing blood flow to the genitals can trigger a significant libido boost. There are many foods that help facilitate blood flow to the area including chili peppers, ginger, garlic, and avocados. Some of these foods, especially spicy foods, have the added benefit of triggering sensations of arousal.
Many benefits are associated with dark chocolate including a stronger libido. According to The Journal of Sexual Medicine, those who eat one or more pieces of dark chocolate on a daily basis have a higher libido than those who do not. Dark chocolate encourages feelings of euphoria and love by triggering the release of serotonin and phenylethylamine, a parent of amphetamines. Be sure to eat a low-sugar, high-quality dark chocolate as excess sugar can stall the libido.
Give Your Libido a Boost by Balancing Your Diet
Diet plays a pivotal role in overall wellness and is a driving factor behind the strength of your libido. Elements such as hormone balance, energy level, and blood flow are all influenced by what, when, and how much a person eats. Following a well-balanced diet while avoiding foods that reduce libido and consuming those that bolster it can help alleviate sexual dysfunction. Keep the body working right and the libido running strong by optimizing your diet!
At Holtorf Medical Group our Health and Nutrition Coach can work alongside you and your physician to optimize your diet and improve your libido. Call us at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!