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Looking for a Valentine’s Aphrodisiac?

Thrive Carolinas / Healthy Life  / Looking for a Valentine’s Aphrodisiac?

Looking for a Valentine’s Aphrodisiac?


Nancy A. Palermo MD

Nancy A. Palermo MD

If you are looking to heat things up in the bedroom, you might want to consider these overlooked aphrodisiacs.

Scientific studies published over the past several years have found that lifestyle and dietary changes that promote heart health also promote sexual health. So basically, what is good for the heart is also good for the penis and clitoris.

A 2011 study from the Mayo Clinic reviewing clinical trials of 740 men showed that men with ED (Erectile Dysfunction), even on medications, were 2.5Xs more likely to show improvements in sexual function when exercising more and eating a heart-healthy diet. So why is it? Well, it’s all related to blood flow, of course.

Poor habits like eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), drinking excess alcohol, and smoking can damage arteries and increase heart risk. Likewise, it can also affect the blood vessels in the penis leading to ED. I

In fact, ED may be a 3–5-year warning sign for cardiovascular-related events like heart attack and strokes.

In a 10-year study of over 1400 men, scientists found that those with ED were 80% more likely to develop heart disease than those who did not have ED. And age was no protection as those in their 40s with ED were twice as likely to have hypertension or a heart issue.

So do you want to know which foods can be aphrodisiacs now?

It appears whole, natural, fiber-rich foods like vegetables, legumes, fish, and lean meats are on the list. These foods, along with exercise, can increase a compound called nitric oxide, a chemical beneficial for optimizing blood flow and thus benefitting sexual function.

During arousal, nerves from the brain to the penis or clitoris can be activated to release Nitric oxide (NO). NO dilates the blood vessels leading to increase blood flow and thus an erection and improved vaginal lubrication. Any reduction in NO’s production or function can thus lead to a reduction in these functions. Drugs like Cialis or Viagra help with sexual dysfunction by increasing available levels of Nitric Oxide. Unfortunately, they do so with side effects like limb pain, vision change, rash, and dizziness. Other side effects include flushing, back pain, headaches, muscle pain, and upset stomach.

Some side effects may be long-term, including rare side effects.

Priapism is an erection that lasts longer than 4 hours and won’t go away. The good news is that exercise and a heart-healthy diet that enhances NO levels can negate the need for these medications. A study out of the Mayo Clinic did a meta-analysis (A statistical analysis combining the results of multiple scientific studies) of six clinical trials for men with ED who adopted a heart-healthy diet combined with exercise and stress reduction. Other than the anticipated weight loss, the positive side effect was a reduction in their need for ED medication.

So before you rush to the store to buy oysters, artichokes, asparagus, figs, or chocolate consider the following things to boost your libido:

    A study showed that just 30 minutes a day of moderate walking can boost and improve ED by 41%, and moderate exercise can improve ED even in obese individuals.
    Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish and devoid of processed foods decrease the likelihood of ED or sexual dysfunction and may even reverse the condition if present.
    Conditions like elevated blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, raised blood sugar or fasting insulin, and elevated triglycerides are signs of increased risk of stroke and heart disease as well as sexual dysfunction, so be sure these things are normal.
    An expanding waistline increases the likelihood of sexual dysfunction, not just because of the disappearance of the penis!!! A man with a 42-inch waistline is 50% more likely to have ED than one with a 32-inch waistline. Excess body fat, especially centrally located, is also associated with elevations in insulin and disruption of hormones that can interfere with testosterone production and function.
  5. BULK UP
    Strength training and muscle building increase blood flow and optimize metabolic health, supporting sexual function. Also, Kegel exercises in men and women (no, they are not just for women) can support the pelvic floor muscles, which optimize blood flow to the pelvic region but also support erections. A study out of Britain looked at twice-daily Kegels along with diet and exercise and showed adding the Kegels was better than diet and exercise alone. So get working!!
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