If you love junk food, you may have to choose between a Big Mac and your sex life. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is influenced by lifestyle factors, including the types of food you eat.
Even though about 18 million men in the United States suffer from ED, you don’t have to be one of them. Making better choices now can resurrect your love life and keep it going as you age.
Alex Lesani, MD, an expert urologist, has resolved many of his patients’ ED with dietary changes alone. At our Las Vegas, Nevada office, Dr. Lesani diagnoses and treats ED with everything from lifestyle changes to implant surgery.
No matter where you are on the ED spectrum, however, optimizing your diet can help. Here’s why.
Fat raises estrogen levels
If your diet is nutritionally poor and you don’t get enough exercise, you may notice that you’ve accumulated fat, particularly around your midsection. Being overweight or obese in itself can increase the incidence of ED, because the extra weight makes your circulatory system less efficient (and erections require good circulation!).
However, there’s another reason why you don’t want to carry extra fat: fatty tissue, also known as adipose tissue, produces estrogen. When your body produces too much estrogen, your testosterone (T) levels plummet.
You need plenty of T to achieve and maintain erections. But if you’re overweight, you probably don’t have enough T. In a vicious cycle, too much estrogen makes you gain fat and lose muscle.
And guess what tissue produces T? That’s right: Muscle.
Junk food slows down your circulation
When you get an erection, blood rushes into your penis and fills up the spongy tissue in your shaft to make it firm enough to penetrate and have intercourse. But in order to get the blood into your penis and keep it there, your blood vessels have to be healthy.
Unfortunately, a diet that’s high in “foods” that contain sugar and trans fats wreak havoc on your blood vessels. Eating processed and junk foods can lead to a buildup of plaque in your vessels that slows down the flow of blood (and increases your risk for a heart attack).
When your blood vessels are weak, constricted, and hard from a poor diet, they don’t function well. Even the valves that keep the blood flowing in the right direction may break down.
One result? A penis that stays flaccid or quickly loses its erection.
Alcohol may put you in the mood, but…
If you’ve been having trouble with ED, you may think that a drink of alcohol could relax you enough to allow an erection. But alcohol affects your circulation and also interferes with other parts of the complicated process that allows you to achieve an erection.
First, alcohol slows down your brain and your responses, too. Believe it or not, your erections begin in your brain, which signals the rest of your body to do things like release hormones and send blood to your penis. On alcohol, though, those signals slow down.
Alcohol is also a diuretic, which makes you urinate more than usual, causing dehydration. When you’re dehydrated, you don’t have enough blood flow for a good erection.
Real foods feed your erections, too
Junk food is junk because it doesn’t give your body the nutrients it needs to produce energy and repair cells. Real food, in contrast, fuels your cells with energy. Men who eat a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, are less likely to develop ED.
Before you balk at giving up your beer and fries, know that a Mediterranean diet and other heart-healthy diets aren’t just nutritious, they’re absolutely delicious. Their delectability is just one reason they’ve stood the test of time in cultures throughout the world.
To shed those extra estrogen-producing pounds, build up more muscle and testosterone, and improve your circulation, cut out processed foods, sugar, and trans fats. Fill your plate with plenty of:
- Healthy fats, such as olive oil
- Fatty fish, like salmon
- Grass-fed and pastured meats and poultry
- Beans and nuts, including hummus
- Vegetables of all colors and hues
- Low-glycemic fruits, such as berries
You can also consume moderate amounts of red wine and dark chocolate.
When you eat the foods your body needs, it functions more smoothly. You may find that you automatically have the energy you need to start exercising more. The change in diet and exercise alone may be enough to resolve your ED.
Get help developing a healthier lifestyle to reduce or end your ED, or receive the other treatments you need for a better sex life, by calling our friendly team at 702-470-2579 or by booking online today.