How Diet Can Help You Manage Your Diabetes & ED
It's well-established that erectile dysfunction (ED) is linked to health issues prevalent in older men such as heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity. The disorder is also frequently tied to Type 2 diabetes, once known as "adult-onset diabetes."
Although this form of insulin resistance and high blood sugar is now known to strike children too, it is much more common in adults. Like the previously mentioned conditions that affect older men disproportionately, diabetes can also affect your ability to achieve an erection. The good news, though, is both conditions are manageable through diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes.
Here we'll look specifically at some diet choices you can make that will help keep your blood sugar in check and keep blood flowing for sex.
Giddy Urologist Dr. Edwin Morales explains the connection between diabetes and erectile dysfunction in the ED Guide video series. Click here to watch the video.
A great place to start any conversation about dietary choices for men facing ED and diabetes is the Mediterranean diet.
It consists of traditional foods from France, Italy, Greece and Spain, countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, with an emphasis on olive oil, fish, unrefined cereals and grains, legumes, fruits and green leafy vegetables. Combined with a moderate intake of cheese, yogurt and other dairy products—and let's not forget the acceptable one glass of wine per day—the diet was promoted in countless books as a miracle weight loss program for pork- and beef-addicted, corn-fed, buttered-up Americans in the 1960s.
The good news for men looking to manage their diabetes and ED is, in addition to reducing refined carbs and sugars, a Mediterranean diet appears to help lessen the incidence of erectile dysfunction.
A 2018 meta-study of 28 separate studies published in the journal Sexual Medicine Reviews demonstrated improved erectile function in men maintaining the Mediterranean diet. Significantly, men who were obese and overweight dropped significant pounds, which helped to improve erectile function and testosterone levels, according to the study's authors.
Here are some specific foods to help regulate blood sugar for men with diabetes and offer some help reducing the incidence of ED.
Dark leafy vegetables
The American Diabetes Association refers to dark leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and collard greens as "superfoods," which help keep blood sugar in check. In addition to vitamins A, C and E, as well as iron and potassium, these veggies also pack a lot of zinc, which may contribute to healthy sexual function in men.
Zinc makes up a significant portion of semen. What's more, a 1996 study published in the journal Nutrition indicated even marginal zinc deficiency in men can indicate lower testosterone levels, a much-needed component of erectile function.
How about some cocoa and wine, gentlemen? Studies such as one from 2016 published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated men who consumed more flavonoid-rich foods such as cocoa, dark chocolate, fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, tea and wine experienced a reduction in erectile dysfunction over the long term. And for men simultaneously working to manage diabetes, an increase in flavonoid intake has long been known to reduce the risk of it and cardiovascular disease.
Lycopene is a compound found in red fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, grapefruit and red peppers. It's associated with antioxidant effects, which have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity as found by the researchers behind this 2020 meta-study from the journal Pharmacol Research.
A 2012 animal study from the journal Die Pharmazie found diabetic rats experienced improved erectile function, lowered blood glucose and reduced oxidative stress when fed a diet rich in lycopene, all important factors combating diabetes.
Saving one of the best for last, a study published in Diabetes Care in 2006 indicated coffee may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Another 2015 study published in Plos One suggested men who consumed more caffeine were less likely to experience ED.
Giddy Clinical Nutritionist Lahana Vigliano explains what simple substitutions you can make to improve ED symptoms. Click here to watch the video.