Diet, Erectile Dysfunction And Libido

We eat very different foods today compared to what our ancestors ate. The change is enormous. Could the modern diet cause erectile dysfunction and libido problems? Read on and I will tell you. I will also tell you about my food epiphany – the moment I realized how essential a great diet is in order to function sexually. I will also tell you about my experiences with the various different diets I have experimented with. And I will tell you about consequences of eating poorly, including subjecting the body to cigarette smoking, alcohol, and excessive fat, sugar and salt consumption.

 

A Poor Diet Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction And A Weak Libido 

You are what you eat. Your hair, your eyes, your right thumb, your kidneys – have all been created from foods you have eaten. Every single part of you has been assembled from stuff you have put into your mouth and swallowed. Every day, more than 50 billion of your cells die. And every day you need to replace these cells. These new cells are then created from foods you have recently eaten. You are what you eat. 

Nutrition is something that has interested me since I was a kid. It has fascinated me since I first understood that food can have an impact on how I feel and who I become. I have now learned that eating right is of paramount importance to my life quality, happiness as well as a long and healthy life. Not only do I feel that eating properly makes me better of physically, but it also makes my mind happy. 

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Athletes generally take nutrition extremely seriously. For many athletes, what they eat is just as important as the physical exercise they do. They dyhave learned that in order for their bodies and minds to perform at an optimal level, they need to supply their bodies with the right foods containing the right kinds of energy, vitaminsminerals, oils, etc. 

I am not a professional athlete, but why should I not eat like one? If this can help to keep my body in an optimal condition, why should I not be as serious about nutrition as the professional athletes?

What we eat has changed dramatically over the last few thousands years, and particularly during the last 100 years. We have introduced several new foods to our diets, we have altered many of the traditional foods, and we now eat more of certain foods, such as meat, and less of others, such as vegetables.

The first humans (Homo Habilis) are believed to have appeared around 2.1 million years ago. It is believed that these first humans were quite different to the modern human. However, when Homo Erectus arrived about 1.9 million years ago, the similarities to us were striking. Homo Sapiens, which is believed to be our direct ancestor, is estimated to have entered the scene around 200,000 years ago. 

We don’t know with certainty what the diet was like for these early humans, and it is also possible that it varied substantially from geography to geography. We can with a high degree of certainty however, say that we have eaten vegetables, fruit, berries, nuts, seeds, roots, leaves, mushrooms, meat, seafood and other foods that we could either gather or kill. It is also likely that a large proportion of this food would have been consumed raw, and also consumed immediately after sourcing it.

It is likely that our diet did change towards consumption of more meat as we became more intelligent and advanced, and hence were capable of catching more living prey. Also, as we mastered fire, some of our food was cooked or otherwise prepared with the use of fire. However, although our diet probably evolved as we evolved during our time as humans, it has also probably remained relatively stable. Until very recently.

About 10,000 years ago, our lives took a dramatic turn. And this caused a big shift in our diet. We went from being nomadic hunters and gatherers, to settle down in permanent or semi-permanent villages. We had become intelligent enough to domesticate plants and animals, and it therefore made sense to stay put at the same place for longer. By doing this, we had access to more food, we spent less time finding the food, life became less uncertain, we had more leisure time, and life generally became easier. 

However, when we domesticated plants and animals, we 1) started consuming large quantities of certain foods we had not consumed much of before, 2) we were able to change these plants and animals by selecting and reproducing the traits in these plants and animals that were desirable, and 3) it became common to store food for later consumption.

For instance, it is believed that we only ate small quantities of grains such as wheat and oats before these were domesticated. We also replanted the grains and fruits that produced the largest or sweetest kinds of foods, and we were therefore able to increase the yield of these harvests over time. Animals that had desirable traits were also allowed to mate so that these traits were preserved. And we begun storing grains, seeds, and other foods that would not perish quickly. This was the beginning of what has become a startling transformation of our diet.

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French fries, tofu, ice cream, cheese, pasta, liver-pate, sauerkraut, sausage, chocolate, smoked salmon, microwave dinner, pickled cabbage, frozen pizza. Today our diet hardly contains any raw food at all. Rather, most of what we eat is one or several steps removed from where it originally grew or lived. It is normally cooked, fried, boiled, extracted, temperature treated or processed in one way or another. Often, foods have gone through processes where sugar, salt, fat or other ingredients are removed or added. Some foods are bleached, deodorized, concentrated, pasteurized, have added preservatives, are genetically modified, are fortified with vitamins and minerals, etc. The foods we eat today are very different from the foods we ate thousands of years ago.

For most of my life, I have eaten a normal western diet containing many of these foods. This has typically meant having bread with cheese, ham or jam, or cereal + milk for breakfast. Lunch would normally consist of bread with the same spreads, or potentially some dish made with meat. Dinner would typically always be meat and cooked vegetables (potatoes as the staple). This diet would contain only a small proportion of vegetables, fruits and nuts. It would be heavy in meats and grain-based foods as well as dairy products. As a kid, I was told this was a healthy diet.

This diet probably wasn’t terribly bad, it just wasn’t optimal. However, it wasn’t until the quality of my diet was drastically downgraded, that I discovered how important what I eat really is. -Or rather, it wasn’t until my diet was downgraded and then significantly upgraded again, that I fully understood the importance of eating well.

I once left my job because I wanted to try something different. I didn’t have much income at this time, so I needed to be thrifty with money. One of the things I saved money on was food. Therefore, I would normally eat a sugary cheap cereal with milk in the morning, bread with peanut-butter for lunch, and pasta and pasta-sauce for dinner. This was cheap, easy and quick. For a few months, this was by and large all I ate. I would eat no vegetables, nuts or seeds and only fruits occasionally.

For most of this period, I had severe difficulty obtaining and sustaining erections. I would sometimes get an erection, but it would normally fade very quickly. Morning erections were also less frequent and less hard. I also had very little desire for sex. Sex just wasn’t on my mind much. I didn’t at the time think that the foods I ate (or rather the foods I didn’t eat) had anything to do with this.

This all changed almost instantaneously one day. I made good friends with a person who was vegetarian and who also liked making food. As a result, we made lots of food together, and I also switched to a diet that was by and large vegetarian. Nutrition-wise, this was a significant improvement

And I could feel a difference almost immediately. The first remarkable change was that I would all of a sudden get erections when I kissed a girl! And not only would I get erections when exposed to sexual stimulation, but the erections would also not fade as quickly as before. At the time it almost felt like a miracle, and I could hardly believe it! I could not at the time fathom that food played such an important part in sexual function. 

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And it turned out not to be a lucky one-time coincidence, but it remained as I kept my diet healthy. In addition, with increased sexual confidence and proper erectile functioning, my sex drive also increased.

After this epiphany, I stayed faithful to this diet for a long time and had consistently great results. But given this startling discovery of how important food turned out to be for my health, I also wanted to experiment further. I therefore wanted to try out a vegan diet. This means no meat and no dairy. The diet basically entails eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, fungi, berries, etc. It was slightly difficult practically and particularly so when going out to eat. But it worked well for me health-wise. It gave me lots of energy, I felt totally fine and I generally enjoyed the diet. I noticed no major changes in libido or erectile functioning or mood from switching from the vegetarian diet to the vegan one. In other words, the diet seemed to support my sexual health.

For a few weeks one summer, I tried to go back to eating lots of bread and meat, just to see how this made me feel. However, the outcome of this switch was not particularly great. During this experiment, I would have periods of feeling drowsy and not have the same energy as I used to have. I would particularly get these tired periods in the afternoons when all I wanted was to nap. I would also have problems with excessive air in my stomach. I did however not notice a big impact on erectile functioning or libido, but the experiment might have been too short for an effect to show up. However, given the results, I changed back to my old diet after about three weeks.

I have also tried the paleolithic diet. This diet tries to copy the diet of people during paleolithic times, or rather our diet as ‘cavemen’. This means eating fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts, fungi, meats, etc. that were available to people in this time, and also eating it fresh, unprocessed and, if possible – raw. This diet cuts out most of the foods that are normally consumed in regular diets today, such as anything with added salt or sugar, anything frozen, pasteurized or with preservatives. I also very much enjoyed this diet, and felt fine physically and mentally while on it – except when I ate a lot of meat. Eating lots of meat tend to make me tired and sluggish. But generally, I also didn’t notice any major changes in libido or erectile functioning or mood from switching from the vegetarian diet to the paleo one. This diet also seemed to support my sexual health.

I have now settled on a diet that is somewhere in-between vegan and paleolithic. My diet now consist mostly of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, with meat sometimes but typically not more than once a week. When I do eat meat, this is also normally fish. In addition, I generally stay away from dairy products. I am really happy with this diet. It gives me lots of energy and I feel very alert and alive. I can feel that it impacts my mood positively. Also, it is not a regime I have given myself that I want or need to follow, its rather what I feel like eating – I simply start craving vegetables, fruits and nuts, etc. if I don’t get them in adequate quantity on a regular basis.

I try to provide my body with everything it needs in order to function optimally or very well, because a body running on high grade fuel is likely to perform better than a body that runs on low grade fuel, all else equal.

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Hippocrates once said “Let food be your medicine and medicine your food”. I believe there is much truth to this, because after I started eating very healthy, I have hardly gotten sick at all. Before, I would get several colds and sore throats throughout the year. I can’t remember the last time I had a cold. Nor the last time I had a sore throat. Not only that, but I often have so much energy I hardly know what to do with myself. I particularly feel a huge boost of energy after my breakfast.

Although I still experiment with my diet and therefore what I eat does change, the below is what I eat on an average day (as this is being written):

Breakfast: One beetroot, one avocado, one banana, one kiwi or orange, one radish, a thumb-size of ginger, two cloves of garlic, 30 grams of spinach, 12 grams of coconut oil, 12 grams of hemp protein powder, 12 grams of bee pollen, often 12 grams of Maca powder, and water (to make it more fluid). I mix this in a food processor and out comes green / red-ish stuff with the consistency of porridge. The taste may be an acquired one, but I have gotten used to it and I quite like it. 

Pre-lunch: A salad containing one avocado, two pickled beetroots, half a red pepper, five small tomatoes, a quarter of a cucumber, a quarter of a fennel and a handful of raw spinach.

Lunch: Typically a home-made vegetarian or vegan dish. These are different from day to day, but could be made up of vegetable stir fry and salad, aubergine lasagna, vegetable soup, or similar.

Dinner: This meal varies quite a bit. If I go out, I sometimes treat myself to a fish dinner. If I make dinner myself, I normally make a dish out of vegetables, such as baked vegetables, a salad of several vegetables, pasta and vegetables, etc. 

Throughout the day, I also eat about 100 grams or more of nuts, 2-3 apples and other fruits such as oranges, dates, cherries, blueberries, drink a cup of matcha green tea and also drink lots of water. I also take a multi-vitamin / multi-mineral supplement, fish oilvitamin D and a vitamin B12 supplement. That’s it. That’s what I typically eat during a day. Not only does it contain (to the best of my knowledge) everything my body needs, but its also easy to maintain and relatively inexpensive

Although this is what I have chosen for myself, I don’t think its necessary to have an extreme diet one way or the other in order to live a healthy life or be functioning well sexually. But I do believe in a balanced diet that contains vegetables, fruits and nuts, supplemented from time to time with other foods so that the body receives all the essential nutrients that it needs to function optimally.

The body is a very sophisticated and complex system of many parts, and it needs certain vitaminsminerals and other substances to function optimally. If we do not consume adequate amounts of these essential nutrients, our bodies will not be able to function properly in general. These nutrients are essential to every organ and process in the body. They are the building blocks of life – without them our cells would not be able to function properly. 

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These nutrients are also highly relevant for sexual function. In fact, sexual function can be one of the first functions to fail when the body is not in balance. Essential nutrients play a very important role in stimulating sex drive, to provide support for the sex hormones and for promoting proper sexual function. The body simply cannot enjoy great sex and desire if it does not have the proper nutrients to make it function.

A balanced diet will not only deliver key nutrients to keep sex drive and sex function high, but it will also help one look better and feel more confident. A poor diet may cause nutritional deficiencies, toxicity in the body, inflammation, and sluggishness, none of which will help sex drive.

In addition to trying to provide my body with all these essential nutrients, I also stay away from smoking and alcohol, and I am very careful with saturated fattrans fat, salt and sugar.

Cigarette smoke often contains more than 40,000 chemicals, such as acetone, ammonia, arsenic, carbon monoxide, lead, nicotine and tar. These chemicals will typically accumulate in the body over time, and will be particularly prominent in the lungs and blood vessels. These chemicals are not supposed to be in the body (at least not in these amounts), and can cause significant harm in several ways to the fine-tuned system a body is. 

Smoking may lead to plaque build-up in the arteries, which if it becomes severe enough, may cause atherosclerosis. Advanced atherosclerosis may restrict bloodflow and inhibit the arteries’ ability to produce nitric oxide, both of which would make it more difficult to obtain erections.

Nitric oxide is a component that is essential for a man to get and sustain an erection as it allows the penis to be filled with blood and be engorged. In addition, nicotine has itself been shown to have a negative effect on nitric oxide production. Smoking is also associated with heart disease, insulin resistance and increased blood pressure, all of which will normally have a negative long-term impact on bloodflow, and may therefore also cause erectile dysfunction. To learn more about nitric oxide on Truelibido, please go here.

Smoking attacks the normal functioning of the arteries and bloodflow from many fronts, and anything that reduces proper bloodflow may eventually lead to erectile dysfunction. Studies have shown that men that smoke at least 20 cigarettes a day are significantly more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than non-smokers. Also, one study reviewed whether cigarette smokers with erectile dysfunction were likely to regain erectile functioning after quitting smoking. 118 men in the study stopped smoking for a year while 163 men continued the smoking. After a year, 25% of the quitters reported an improvement in erectile functioning, while 0% of the smokers reported any improvement. The study concluded that there was a strong correlation between the intensity of cigarette smoking and the degree of erectile dysfunction

Although research is not conclusive on the impact of alcohol consumption on erectile dysfunction and libido (some studies show no impact), a large body of research indicates that excessive alcohol consumption is likely to have negative long-term consequences. Actually, some people report that alcohol increases their libido and erectile functioning in the short-term. This could possibly be because alcohol can function as a vasodilator, (help expanding blood vessels) and thereby increases bloodflow.

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In the long term, overconsumption of alcohol may weaken the heart muscle, causing a condition called alcoholic cardiomyopathy. A weakened heart that cannot contract effectively, will as a result have problems pumping enough blood to sufficiently nourish the body. This may lead to impaired bloodflow as well as damage to organs and tissues. Because erectile functioning is dependent on strong bloodflow, this weakness in the circulatory system may cause erectile dysfunction.

Excessive alcohol consumption may also damage the inner lining of the blood vessels called the endothelium directly, which may also result in reduced bloodflow. In addition, consumption of alcohol, even in moderate dozes, will normally lead to reduced testosterone levels. Testosterone is a hormone that is paramount for a strong libido as well as proper erectile functioning. To learn more about testosterone on Truelibido, please go here.

Research has shown that excess consumption of particularly trans fat (or trans-unsaturated fatty acids), but also saturated fat, will normally increase triglycerides, increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, decrease high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and cause build-up of plaque inside the blood vessels. None of this is good for bloodflow. Also, build-up of plaque is likely to cause atherosclerosis, which can be enemy #1 to proper bloodflow. This condition will also disrupt the blood vessels’ ability to produce nitric oxide.

Significant amounts of these fats in the blood are also likely to spark insulin resistance. The cells need insulin in order to use glucose as energy, and when insulin resistance kicks in, insulin becomes less effective at this task and the result is an increase in glucose levels.

When these glucose levels are elevated, another molecule called superoxide is created in larger numbers. Superoxide is a free radical that reacts easily with nitric oxide and therefore reduce nitric oxide levels. Put differently, increased levels of these fats beyond a healthy level have several ways of hampering bloodflow. And anything that impairs bloodflow may result in erectile dysfunction.

Studies in both humans and animals have demonstrated that excessive salt ingestion may cause the blood pressure to increase. The kidneys have problems filtering out water in the presence of excess salt, and therefore the body holds on to more water. This increase in water retention increases blood pressure. 

Increased blood pressure may lead to several dysfunctions, many of which will result in impaired bloodflow. This in turn can cause erectile dysfunction. Excessive salt ingestion has also been shown to decrease nitric oxide production. With reduced nitric oxide production, it may be difficult for a man to get and keep an erection. It is estimated that a western diet may contain 10 times more salt than what is ideal.

Excessive sugar consumption is not good for proper erectile functioning either. Studies have shown that sugar is correlated with higher levels of triglycerides, higher LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) and decreased HDL cholesterol levels (good cholesterol). In other words, excessive sugar consumption has many of the same negative results as excessive fat consumption.

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Large intake of sugar for a long period of time may lead to atherosclerosis and is a major risk factor for heart disease. Also, research has indicated that sugar may inhibit the enzyme nitric oxide synthase in producing nitric oxide. Less nitric oxide normally means weaker erections. In addition elevated blood glucose levels is likely to increase the creation of superoxide, the free radical that may extinguish nitric oxide. Excess intake of sugar that is being stored instead of being used is also likely to lead to increase in body fat. This increase in body fat is often correlated with lower testosterone.

Several research studies have shown a strong relationship between eating habits and prevalence of erectile dysfunction. In particular, many studies have shown significant improvements in erectile function in men after they switched to the Mediterranean diet. This diet consists of large amounts of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish and olive oil. Research has also shown that men with metabolic syndrome or men with diabetes have been able to regain erectile functioning after switching to this diet. Not only have research seen an improvement in erectile dysfunction, but also a stronger libido, an increase in nitric oxide generation, improvement in insulin sensitivity, weight-loss and other health benefits.

 

Research Studies

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Esposito K, Ciotola M, Giugliano F, Maiorino MI, Autorino R, De Sio M, Giugliano G, Nicoletti G, D’Andrea F, Giugliano D. Effects of intensive lifestyle changes in erectile dysfunction in men. J Sex Med. 2009; 6(1):243-250.

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Esposito K, Giugliano F, Di Palo C, Giugliano G, Marfella R, D’Andrea F, D’Armiento M, Giugliano D. Effect of lifestyle changes on erectile dysfunction in obese men: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2004 Jun 23; 291(24):2978-84.

Esposito K, Giugliano F, Mahorino MI, Giugliano D. Dietary factors, Mediterranean diet and erectile dysfuncion. J Sex Med. 2010; 7(7):2338-2345.

Esposito K, Marfella R, Ciotola M, Di Palo C, Giugliano F, Giugliano G, D’Armiento M, D’Andrea F, Giugliano D. Effect of a Mediterranean-style diet on endothelial dysfunction and markers of vascular inflammation in the metabolic syndrome: a randomised trial. JAMA. 2004; 292(12):1440-1446.

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Gupta BP, Murad MH, Clifton MM, Prokop L, Nehra A, Kopecky SL. The effect of lifestyle modification and cardiovascular risk factor reduction on erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med. 2011 Nov 14; 171(20):1797-803. DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.440.

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Hoshiyama M, Li B, Yao J, Harada T, Morioka T, Oite T. Effect of high glucose on nitric oxide production and endothelial nitric oxide synthase protein expression in human glomerular endothelial cells. Nephron Exp Nephrol. 2003; 95(2):e62-8.

Ishizaka N, Ishizaka Y, Toda E, Hashimoto H, Nagai R, Yamakado M. Association between cigarette smoking, metabolic syndrome, and carotid arteriosclerosis in Japanese individuals. Atherosclerosis. 2005 Aug; 181(2):381-8.

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Kagota S, Tamashiro A, Yamaguchi Y, Nakamura K, Kunitomo M. High salt intake impairs vascular nitric oxide/cyclic guanosine monophosphate system in spontaneously hypertensive rats. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2002 Jul; 302(1):344-51.

Kimura C, Oike M, Koyama T, Ito Y. Impairment of endothelial nitric oxide production by acute glucose overload. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Jan; 280(1):E171-8.

Lam TH, Abdullah AS, Ho LM, Yip AW, Fan S. Smoking and sexual dysfunction in Chinese males: findings from men’s health survey. Int J Impot Res 2006; 18: 364-369.

Meldrum DR, Gambone JC, Morris MA, Ignarro LJ. A multifaceted approach to maximize erectile function and vascular health. Fertil Steril. 2010 Dec; 94 (7): 2514-20.

Musicki B, Kramer MF, Becker RE, Burnett AL. Inactivation of phosphorylated endothelial nitric oxide synthase (Ser-1177) by O-GlcNAc in diabetes-associated erectile dysfunction. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Aug 16; 102(33):11870-5.

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