It is estimated that 30 million American men suffer from erectile dysfunction and is a major cause of depression and a decreased quality of life in men.
One theory even suggests that there may be a link between impotence and heart attacks. Depression is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, and the thought was that men who couldn’t get it up become so depressed that they die of a broken heart.
The good news is that for the majority of men, the problem is solvable. Erections result from a complex combination of brain stimuli, blood vessel and nerve function, and hormonal actions. Anything that interferes with any of these factors can lead to impotence, and that can include arteriosclerosis, or peripheral vascular disease, the use of certain medications, alcohol, cigarettes. History of sexually transmitted disease, and chronic illness such as diabetes or high blood pressure. In a nut shell erectile dysfunction and heart disease can be two different manifestations of the exact same root problem, diseased arteries - inflamed, oxidized, cholesterol-clogged blood vessels.
It is no surprise that an authentic Mediterranean diet loaded full of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cholesterol-lowering mostly vegetarian foods would improve sexual function in both men and women, as well as reduced risk of heart disease.
Of all the plant foods, nuts and seeds seem to be the food group most tied to longevity. Just two handfuls a week may extend a woman’s life as much as jogging four hours a week.
Pistachio nuts: In a study where men ate three to four handfuls of pistachios a day for just three weeks experienced both significant improvement in blood flow through the penis and had significantly firmer erections. Most antioxidant rich foods have a Viagra-like effect boosting nitric oxide production. Make sure to eat raw, unsalted pistachios and not the roasted and salted ones.
Beetroot: Improves sexual health and stamina. Also known as ‘natural Viagra’. This vegetable is a rich source of nitrates and it helps to release nitric oxide into the body, widening the blood vessels, and increasing blood flow to the genitals – a mechanism that medicines like Viagra seek to replicate. Another factor is that beetroot contains a lot of boron, a chemical compound that is important for the production of the human sex hormone.
Watermelon: This juicy red fruit could be the new sexual star. While watermelon is 92 percent water, the remaining eight percent contains the phytonutrient citrulline, which converts to arginine, an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels, according to 2008 research from Texas A&M University’s department of horticultural sciences. Although not as organ-specific as drugs that treat men’s erectile dysfunction, watermelon may help improve blood flow to erectile tissue (present in the female clitoral area as well as the male penis), increasing arousal. Scientists at the university’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center are now working on increasing the fruit’s citrulline content.
It is also a known fact that cholesterol is an important predictor of sexual dysfunction in both men and women. Only just after three weeks, those eating pistachios had significant improvement in cholesterol, no added weight gain and a significant improvement in erectile function without having any side effects.
Taking drugs like Viagra just cover up the symptoms and do not target the underlying problem of unhealthy arteries. Eating an authentic Mediterranean diet consisting of mostly whole healthy plant foods including nuts, seeds fruits, vegetables and oily fish actually helps attack the root cause - cholesterol, oxidation, and inflammation.
Why risk side-effects of taking drugs when the problem can be reversed and cured through changing your diet and your lifestyle.
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !