What you eat can really extinguish a hot sex life, and we're not talking about the chicken with garlic sauce you had for lunch. When included in your diet on a regular basis, there are certain foods that can directly influence the quality of your sex life both positively and negatively due to their effect on your overall health.
"Sexual dysfunction is often a complex problem, common with age, that's rarely purely physical or psychological, but your diet can play a role just as it can for triggering chronic disease," says endocrinologist Florence Comite, MD, CEO of the Comite Center for Precision Medicine&Health and author of the book Keep It Up.
In other words, the worst foods that impact your heart, your blood pressure, and your risk for diabetes are generally the foods that impact your sex life.
In many cases, struggling with arousal in women and erectile dysfunction in men may not only be frustrating in the bedroom, but they may also serve as an early warning sign of the development of chronic diseases. "It's like the canary in the coal mine," says Dr. Comite. "If you have cholesterol, plaque, and inflammation, it's likely to obstruct blood flow to the narrow pudendal arteries, a quarter of the size of coronary arteries, that supply the sex organs before they impede the coronary arteries," she says. "Diabetes affects blood vessels, too, and damages nerve tissue, impacting sensations in the skin and diminishing arousal."
Enhancing sugar control, reducing elevated blood pressure, managing cholesterol, and optimizing hormones and metabolism are among many ways to sexual health, says Comite, creator of the precision medicine health app GroqHealth.com. Many of these factors will improve through diet and especially by limiting the following fiver foods that undermine metabolic health and are destroying your sex life. Read on, and for more, don't miss The #1 Best Food to Eat For Better Sex, Says Science.
Processed foods and sugars
"A diet high in sugar is not so sweet for your sex life," says Deborah Matthew, MD, CEO of Signature Wellness, who calls herself America's Happy Hormones Doctor. Chronic high blood sugar from eating low-fiber, highly processed foods like white bread, baked goods, chips, and sugar-sweetened beverages are the culprit behind many sexual health problems.
"High sugar consumption increases chances of diabetes, which leads to erectile dysfunction and suppressed testosterone," Matthew says. The inability to get an erection or maintain one firm enough for sex is common in men with type 2 diabetes. It often is caused by long-term high blood sugar, which damages nerves and blood vessels, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Eating a lot of processed foods like baked goods made with flours that have had their fiber stripped out "also triggers inflammation, which lowers sex drive in men and women," says Matthew.
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Buffalo wings (and other deep-fried food)
Fried foods like buffalo wings and cheese-stuffed jalapeño poppers are delicious but high in saturated fats and trans fatty acids, which have been linked to coronary artery disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, according to a large study of healthcare workers published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. All of those diseases, as we mentioned above, are connected with sexual dysfunction.
Beer and cocktails
While a few drinks may trigger a desire for sex, studies show that over-indulging in alcohol decreases sexual arousal and may make it more difficult to achieve an orgasm. One 2018 study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that women reported less vaginal lubrication after drinking alcohol.
Date night on the couch watching a romantic movie, believe it or not, could disrupt your plans in the bedroom if you make a habit of munching on microwavable popcorn. "The oily coating on the inside of the microwavable popcorn bags is made of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) which are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can lower testosterone levels," says Matthew.
Research published in 2019 in Environmental Health Perspectives that analyzed blood samples and eating habits of a large group of people found that those who ate microwave popcorn daily over a year had levels of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which were 63% higher than average. These manmade chemicals were previously known as PFCs.
Fatty red meat
Eating too much saturated fat from red meat and dairy sources can cause your body to produce more low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol), which can increase your risk for heart disease. "One of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction is arteriosclerosis (narrowing of the blood vessels)," says Dr. Comite. "What can happen to the vessels that supply the heart can certainly happen to those that supply the genitals."
Deli meats are particularly damaging to good sex because of the sodium that preserves the meat. "Processed deli meats are very high in salt and may contribute to high blood pressure," says Dr. Matthew. "High blood pressure contributes to erectile dysfunction and lower libido." Check this out to learn more about What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Too Much Meat.
Even the pharmaceutical treatments for hypertension won't help you get back in the sack. Some drugs used to manage high blood pressure may worsen erectile dysfunction.
"Don't lose hope," Dr. Comite says. "Explore other pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical options to lower blood pressure that won't affect sexual activity. Getting adequate sleep, regular exercise, and restorative practices like meditation, yoga, and Qigong in synch with eating healthy food will help you lower your blood pressure and enhance your sex life and your health for life."