Prevent and Treat Erectile Dysfunction Naturally with Food
If you or a partner have experienced erectile dysfunction (ED), you may have tried medications or devices to treat the issue. But there’s another approach you can consider that’s as simple as making some dietary changes. Certain nutrients can help manage your heart health, hormonal balance and sex drive, all of which will lower your risk of sexual dysfunction. Learning about these powerful foods is the first step to reducing your symptoms and improving your sex life.
What does your current diet look like?
The foods that comprise a typical Western diet may be the worst choices men can make for their sexual health, according to a 2018 study published in Sexual Medicine Reviews. Researchers have linked typical Western foods to an increased risk of low semen quality, obesity and type 2 diabetes, all of which are contributing factors to ED and poor sexual health.
A Western diet typically consists of:
- High amounts of red meat
- High-sugar foods and drinks
- Trans fats (found in fried foods, many baked goods and spreads)
- Salt and high-sodium foods
- Refined grains (e.g., white bread and white rice)
- High-fat dairy products (e.g., whole milk, butter and heavy cream)
How common are these types of foods in your own diet? Could you try making some changes, not only for sexual health but also for your overall well-being?
What does an optimal diet look like?
The Mediterranean diet may be the most effective nutritional plan for the prevention and treatment of ED. Vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, beans and fish are common foods eaten in Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Italy. Other common and recommended foods are whole grains, seeds, herbs, spices and extra virgin olive oil.
Specifically, the Mediterranean diet excludes foods with added sugars, refined grains, refined oils, processed meats and all other processed foods in general. Red meat should be largely avoided, and poultry, eggs and dairy should be consumed only in moderation.
Red wine, however, is allowed, and the recommended 5-ounce glass makes an ideal daily accompaniment to your Mediterranean-style meal.
Is there scientific support for this theory?
A number of sources support the link between the Mediterranean diet and improved sexual function. In a 2006 study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research, researchers found that men who were assigned the Mediterranean diet experienced a significant reduction in ED compared with those in their control group.
Another study, published in a 2010 issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, showed the correlation between the Mediterranean diet and ED in a group of men with type 2 diabetes. They learned that the men who demonstrated greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet had a far lower prevalence of ED compared with the men who didn’t.
According to a 2015 study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology, a Mediterranean diet can ease atherosclerosis—the buildup of substances including fats and cholesterol on the artery walls—and reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, obesity, high blood pressure and insulin sensitivity.
The Mediterranean diet also increases the release of nitric oxide in the arteries of the penis, allowing more blood to flow and a firmer erection to be achieved.
Talk to your doctor
Consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet, especially if you’re currently taking prescription medicines. Some foods may interact negatively with medications—grapefruit, for example, affects the way medications work against high blood pressure or arrhythmia.
Your doctor and/or a nutritionist can work with you to develop a healthy meal plan, including ways to naturally prevent and combat ED.