Let’s talk about how to increase libido through your diet, which includes what you should eat more of and what you should avoid or reduce significantly.
Natural Aphrodisiacs — Figs, bananas and avocados are natural aphrodisiacs loaded with vitamins and minerals that can encourage more blood flow to the genitals and naturally increase sex drive.
Vitamin C foods — Vitamin C improves blood circulation to the organs so it’s important to make sure you consume foods rich in vitamin C on a daily basis. Vitamin C has also specifically been linked with a healthier female libido. Some great choices include broccoli, oranges, red peppers and guava.
Iron-rich foods — For women in particular, low iron levels can have a negative affect on sexual desire, arousal, lubrication and ability to have an orgasm. Great sources of iron include dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, along with grass-fed beef.
Collagen-rich foods — Collagen production naturally declines with age. This has a direct negative effect on skin health and makes it harder to keep skin firm. This phenomenon can make it harder for men to maintain an erection, and it can lead to a looser vaginal wall in women. To increase your collagen levels, you can consume more bone broths and opt for a collagen supplement powder. Vitamin C also helps to increase collagen production.
Sweet potatoes — Sweet potatoes or yams are loaded with potassium and vitamin A. The potassium can help with high blood pressure, which makes a man more likely to have erectile dysfunction.
Watermelon — In 2008, research conducted at Texas A&M demonstrated that watermelon may have a Viagra effect. The phytonutrients known as lycopene, beta-carotene and citrulline found in watermelon help relax blood vessels. While watermelon might not be as organ-specific as Viagra, it can be helpful in the bedroom without any negative side effects when you naturally want to improve libido.
Spices like nutmeg and clove — Spices are loaded with antioxidants, which is great for overall health, including libido. Research published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine specifically found that extracts of nutmeg and clove enhanced the sexual behavior of male animal subjects. Clove is also great at improving bad breath.
Dark chocolate — Research has shown that chocolate consumption leads to the release of phenylethylamine and serotonin, leading to some aphrodisiac and mood-lifting effects. Just make sure you choose a low-sugar, high-quality dark chocolate.
Brazil nuts — These nuts are high in selenium, which plays a role in maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
Almonds — Rich in zinc, selenium and vitamin E, almonds contain vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that can improve sexual health and reproduction.
Water — Making sure you’re not dehydrated is helpful when it comes to your libido since dehydration can cause a number of negative side effects that can easily dull sexual desire. If you want to avoid possible fatigue, headaches and vaginal dryness, then drink up.
Trans fats and fried foods — Foods items that are greasy and/or loaded with trans fats are not helpful in the bedroom by any stretch. The adverse effects of consuming trans fatty acids can include increases in abnormal sperm production for men and interference with gestation for women.
Processed foods — Chemicals in these foods may negatively affect sexual performance.
Poor-quality protein — Factory-farmed meat is known for containing added hormones and antibiotics, which can lead to hormonal imbalance in the body.
High-sodium foods — Foods that are very high in sodium, like canned foods and processed foods, can contribute to high blood pressure, which in turn decreases the flow of blood to the sex organs.
Conventional dairy — Milk, cheese and other dairy products from cow’s milk can have synthetic hormones that have a negative effect on estrogen and testosterone levels.
Sugar — Sugar in general negatively affects sex hormones. Studies have shown specific and scary affects on testosterone levels. In a 2013 study of male subjects, the consumption of glucose decreased blood levels of testosterone by an average of 25 percent, regardless of whether the men had diabetes, prediabetes or normal glucose tolerance. Testosterone levels also remained low hours after glucose consumption.
Caffeine — Overindulgence in caffeine can have unwanted affects on sexual performance.
Alcohol — Overdoing it on alcoholic beverages is known to decrease sexual desire, arousal and sensitivity. If you’re going to imbibe, opt for one glass (yes, just one) of polyphenol-rich red wine. The antioxidants in red wine can help widen blood vessels and increase blood flow to key arousal areas.
Microwaveable Popcorn — It may be convenient, but it’s certainly not healthy. The chemicals found in the lining of microwave popcorn bags (as well as nonstick pots and pans) have been linked to a lower sex drive for men. According to a 2009 study, these types of popcorn bags contain perfluoroalkyl acids, such as PFOA or PFOS, known to significantly lower sperm counts.
Dr. Sharmila Majumdar
Make an Appointment at the Sexual & Mental Health Clinic, Avis Hospital