Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is the inability to develop and maintain an erection during sex. Men may experience reduced sexual performance and desire, too.
Developing erectile dysfunction is complex and often involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Most cases of ED are due to physical causes such as heart disease, resulting in poor blood flow to the penis.
Age, smoking, alcohol use, stress, and a sedentary lifestyle put men at a higher risk for developing erectile dysfunction. Some dietary factors and foods can also lead to erectile dysfunction.
Dietary Factors and Foods That Cause Impotence
When it comes to diet and erectile dysfunction, there are some common trends. Some of the most explored dietary factors include the following:
1. Low fruit and vegetable consumption.
Lower intakes of fruits and vegetables are linked to higher rates of erectile dysfunction. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of heart-healthy nutrients such as fiber and antioxidants.
A study further analyzed the link between flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, and ED risk. Researchers concluded a low flavonoid, in particular flavone, intake is linked to ED in young adult men.
2. Diets rich in sugar, fat, and salt.
Diets rich in sugar, fat, and salt can all lead to high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars. These health conditions can have a negative impact on heart health, in turn increasing the risk of developing erectile dysfunction.
Besides, diets high in these dietary components tend to supply empty calories and lack nutritional value. This can lead to weight gain and subsequently increase ED risk.
3. Excessive alcohol intake.
Chronic and persistent alcohol use is known to induce sexual dysfunction, which can lead to psychological distress. This, in turn, can worsen the alcohol abuse.
Changes in male hormones can also be a consequence of heavy alcohol use, making sexual function even more problematic.
4. Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a manmade chemical used in plastics. The chemical is commonly found in containers for foods and beverages, such as water bottles and canned goods.
The FDA warrants low levels of BPA is mostly safe. However, overexposure has been linked to health effects, including on the brain and prostate glands in developing fetuses and children.
BPA can also inhibit sex hormones in men and exacerbate symptoms of erectile dysfunction. A study revealed BPA exposure in the workplace could have an adverse effect on male sexual dysfunction.
How to Prevent Erectile Dysfunction Naturally
The best way to prevent erectile dysfunction is to make healthy lifestyle choices and to manage any existing health conditions. This includes weight control, regular exercise, and stress management. Nutrients in some foods may help improve ED, too.
1. Lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
Extra weight can decrease blood flow and increase inflammation in the blood vessels. Both of these contribute to symptoms of erectile dysfunction, and losing weight can improve ED.
Some of the best dietary ways to lose weight are by increasing high-fiber and protein foods and controlling portions. Skip processed products rich in refined flour, sugar, oil, and salt as well.
Other weight loss factors include drinking enough water, exercising regularly, and sleeping adequately.
2. Consider these nutrients from natural foods to cure erectile dysfunction.
A diet rich in nutrient-dense foods can help control weight, in turn reducing erectile dysfunction risk or severity.
But there are also specific nutrients of interest that may help improve sexual health and function, including the following:
• Fiber: Dietary fiber helps improve high cholesterol levels, which can in turn augment heart health. Whole grains, fruits, veggies, and other plant-based foods supply fiber.
• Lycopene: An animal study found lycopene, particularly the presence of diabetes, may improve erectile dysfunction. Watermelon, tomato, and grapefruit are all good sources of lycopene.
• Potassium: Potassium is essential for heart health and can help lower high blood pressure. The mineral also works as an electrolyte for healthy water balance and muscle contraction. Find potassium in bananas, radishes, potatoes, tomatoes, plantains, apricots, pistachios, and carrots.
• Zinc: Zinc is a vital mineral for testosterone production. That being said, low zinc may negatively impact sexual function. Fatty fish, oysters, grass-fed beef, and beans all supply the mineral.
• Vitamin B12: Some recent studies have linked vitamin B12 deficiency with erectile dysfunction. Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal sources such as dairy products and meats like chicken, fish, turkey, beef, and pork. Fortified ready-to-eat cereals and soymilk can also be good sources of vitamin B12.
Foods that help boost nitric oxide are also of interest, including beets, pomegranates, and leafy greens. Nitric oxide is a respected vasodilator, helping to dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow. The response can improve males' sex lives and the health of their heart.
3. Exercise on a regular basis.
Regular exercise can help men with ED, especially as it increases blood flow throughout the body. According to a systematic review, men can decrease ED by including 40 minutes of aerobic exercise four times per week.
Overall, 160 minutes of weekly exercise for six months decreases erectile problems in men with ED. This especially serves true if ED was caused by physical inactivity, obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and/or cardiovascular diseases.
Exercise can also help men manage weight, increase testosterone levels, and decrease depressive feelings. Improving these factors can have a positive impact on sexual health.
4. Cut back on alcohol intake.
With alcohol having such a negative impact on sex life and health, cut back on its intake.
Men should limit alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks daily. Or, ideally, drink no more than four alcoholic beverages per week.
Also, pay attention to portion sizes. Standard sizes include 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
5. Manage stress with positive coping techniques.
While some stress can keep you stimulated and motivated, too much of it can reap havoc on sexual and overall health.
Reduce such risks and manage stress with positive coping techniques. These may include practicing yoga, walking, dancing, and listening to music.
All-in-all, though, consult with a professional if concerned about erectile dysfunction. They can help tailor an ED treatment and prevention specifically for you.