Monday, December 25, 2006

How Diet Affects Sexual Performance

On the one hand it is said that men think about sex every few seconds. On the other hand there is a multi-billion dollar industry in pharmaceuticals for treatment of erectile and sexual dysfunction. Obviously there is a significant disconnect between the desire to perform compared with the ability to perform effectively.

The human sexual response is incredibly complex and is influenced by many elements including psychological, physical and environmental factors. Aphrodisiacs have been promoted to increase libido and sexual performance for over 5000 years. The term Aphrodisiac is named after the Greek Goddess of love and beauty Aphrodite and has over time included many and varied foods, drugs, drinks, scents and devices.

Chilies and Spicy Foods have been thought to be an aphrodisiac since it produced sweating and increased heart rate similar to that experienced during sex.

Other items such as Ginseng (which translates to "Man root"), Oysters and Rhinoceros horn have earned a reputation as Aphrodisiacs primarily due to their physical resemblance to the external genitalia.

However, given the complexity of the sexual response it is unlikely that any one element will work in all circumstances or work at all. The multitude of spurious claims made by promoters of so called aphrodisiacs prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a declaration in 1989 that there was no scientific evidence that any of the over the counter aphrodisiacs work to cure sexual dysfunction.

While there may be no magic potion that will cure all forms of sexual dysfunction there are many commonsense dietary rules that could impact positively on libido and sexual performance.

It is an almost a self-evident fact that a diet that promotes general health and well being will also promote sexual health and sexual performance. Anyone who has suffered a simple ailment such as the common cold will testify that libido and sexual desire are the first casualties of a lack of general well being. It's extremely hard to feel "sexy" or sexually aroused when other bodily functions are not at par. Blood flow to sexual organs is an integral part of the arousal process in both males and females. As a result a diet that promotes heart and circulatory health will almost inevitably improve sexual performance.

Obesity is another killer of libido and sexual performance. It impacts in many ways. Firstly, obesity is often associated with plaque build up in arteries that affect circulation of blood through the body including the genitalia. This not only decreases sexual performance but may also reduce sexual pleasure. Secondly obesity is also a risk factor for erectile dysfunction and low testosterone levels. Studies at the University of Columbia Medical School have shown that weight reduction can lead to increased levels of testosterone and consequently improved sexual performance. On the other hand too little fat in the diet may not be a good thing either. Some fat is required for the production of hormones. Hence it is important to strike a sensible balance.

There are also certain other specific foods that are credited with an improved sex life while others are to be discouraged.

Alcohol in moderation may lower inhibitions and help to set the mood. However, when consumed to excess although it may heighten desire it definitely impairs sexual performance.

Chocolate contains a compound called phenylethylamine that triggers the release of dopamine a chemical that is also released during orgasm. As a result chocolate can promote feelings of euphoria and enhance pleasure.

Chilies can stimulate the nervous system, which in turn may accentuate the sense of sexual arousal. This may be achieved through the release of endorphins in the brain.

Ginger is believed to have a similar stimulant effect that improves circulation to the genitals.

Honey is rich in the mineral Boron that helps the body utilize the hormone estrogen.

Oysters may be good for you after all. Their magic powers however have nothing to do with their appearance. Instead it is their zinc content, which is valuable. Zinc is essential for production of testosterone and zinc deficiency may cause prostate problems in men. Healthy zinc levels are also vital to maintain sperm counts.

Soy is credited with benefits in combating the effects of PMS and Menopause in women and may help improve vaginal lubrication by better utilizing estrogen. Soy is also believed to promote prostate health.

There may not be any magic potion to create a raging libido and sexual desire and performance may be affected by many factors besides what we eat. However, the evidence seems clear -Maintaining a generally healthy diet and supplementing it with certain foods in moderation can have a positive impact on sex life.

Merry Christmas!

Dave Kettner

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