According to the National Institutes of Health, erectile dysfunction (ED) is a medical problem that many men are currently struggling with or will encounter at some point in their life. As of the writing of this article, an estimated 30 million men in the US are living with erectile dysfunction. And a large percentage of them say it has placed a strain on the romantic relationship they have with their wife or girlfriend and has severely affected their self-esteem.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
For men who have not had the misfortune of being diagnosed with erectile dysfunction and are not too familiar with it, erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is an inability to get and keep an erection firm enough to engage in sexual activity. While it is far more common in older men, erectile dysfunction can strike at any age, and according to many urologists, it can happen for multiple reasons. And one of those reasons is poor eating habits, which we will discuss at length later in this article. For the time being, however, let’s take a moment to familiarize ourselves with what happens in the male body when a man develops erectile dysfunction.
According to an article published by the renowned Johns Hopkins Medicine, medical conditions that interfere with blood flowing to the penis are the primary cause of ED. When blood flows into the penis, it becomes firm. If blood cannot flow into the penis, it remains flaccid. Of course, an inability to get it up from time to time is not uncommon, but when it becomes a constant issue, it is usually a sign of erectile dysfunction that requires medical intervention. Some of the medical conditions that can set the stage for ED, according to the same article from Johns Hopkins Medicine, include the following:
- Prostate problems
- High blood pressure
- Vascular disease
- High cholesterol
- Chronic sleep disorders
- Neurogenic disorders
- Peyronie’s disease
- Mental health disorders
- Substance abuse
- Kidney disease
The Best and Worst Foods When It Comes to Erectile Dysfunction
Consuming a poor diet can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction in the same way that underlying physical or mental health problems can. But, of course, the opposite is also true; a healthy, well-balanced diet can prevent or lessen the effects of erectile dysfunction. With that in mind, let’s discuss some of the worst offenders as far as foods that contribute to or worsen erectile dysfunction:
Foods high in saturated fat – While bacon, beef, breakfast sausages, hot dogs, and the like are delicious, they are high in saturated fat. The same is true of cakes, biscuits, and most types of cheese. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a diet high in saturated fat can trigger atherosclerosis, a condition that causes arteries to narrow. When this happens, it can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and, you guessed it, erectile dysfunction.
Sugary foods – If you’re a fan of cookies, candies, sodas, and the like, you should too many of these sugary foods and drinks can cause numerous health problems, erectile dysfunction being among them. Without delving too far into the science behind it, consuming too much sugar adversely affects insulin production in the body.
Alcohol – Consuming a few alcoholic beverages from time to time is generally safe, but you don’t want to overindulge. After all, doing so can have consequences, some of which can affect sexual performance and overall sexual health. To put this into greater context, we need only look at a study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, an esteemed quarterly peer-reviewed open-access medical journal. According to the study data, around 72 percent of male study participants who admitted to drinking alcohol excessively said they struggled with low libido, premature ejaculation, and an inability to achieve an erection.
Foods That Can Fend Off or Lessen the Effects of Erectile Dysfunction
Much like some foods that can increase the risk of developing ED, some can go a long way toward lowering that risk. The most notable of these include the following:
Nitrate-rich vegetables – Eating plenty of spinach, lettuce, and other nitrate-rich vegetables can make it easier for men to achieve and maintain an erection. Studies show that eating these foods produces nitric oxide, which improves both vascular health and blood flow.
Avocados – Like nitrate-rich vegetables, eating vegetables rich in monounsaturated fats, such as avocados, can also help men in the bedroom. Essentially, avocados and other vegetables high in monounsaturated fats contribute to better cardiovascular health and improved blood flow. They can also stimulate testosterone production, a hormone that is critical to male sexual health and prowess.
L-arginine – If you’re a man who values a strong erection, you should consider eating more fish, red meat, poultry, soy, whole grains, beans, and other foods rich in L-arginine. Studies show that the L-arginine in these foods aids the body in creating more nitric oxide, which, along with improving blood flow and overall vascular health, contributes to much better arterial smooth muscle relaxation. For those not aware, arterial smooth muscle relaxation increases blood flow to the penis.
In summary, multiple things can cause erectile dysfunction, and in many cases, resolving such a condition requires medical intervention. But for some men, changing what they put on their dinner plate is enough to make them feel like their old selves again.