If you’re a guy with Erectile Dysfunction, or ED, you have many treatment options. Millions of men have found relief with one of the several FDA-approved prescription ED drugs on the market, and some have been helped with therapy treatments for ED or even with surgery. The good news is that there may also be some “natural” treatments, including dietary and other lifestyle tweaks, that can help men with ED take back their power.
Taking care of your overall physical and emotional health is the best thing you can do for yourself, no matter what’s causing your ED. Of course you’re at an advantage if you do know the cause. Sometimes ED can be caused or aggravated by nutritional issues such as a potassium deficiency.
Your doctor or other qualified health professional can help you determine if there is some underlying nutritional factor. Even if there doesn’t seem to be any specific nutrient deficiency causing your ED, though, you are almost certainly making the problem worse if you eat a generally lousy diet that’s high in “bad” fats and refined sugars. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle and have lots of unresolved stress in your life, these can compound the problem.
A medical work-up may very well be necessary to figure out the underlying cause of your ED, but meanwhile, you can make a series of small changes to your diet and lifestyle. There is no miracle cure, no silver bullet that will magically solve your erectile challenges. But you might be surprised at some of the things that can help improve the situation, with or without the medical options mentioned above.
You are what you eat
While there’s no particular “wonder food” to prevent or cure Erectile Dysfunction, a growing body of good research points to certain foods that just might help. Here are a few items to consider adding to your menu on a regular basis.
Rabbit chow (and a juice that may “beet” ED)
Turn up your nose and call leafy greens “rabbit food,” if you will, but last time we checked, rabbits were doing okay in the sex department. The big deal about leafy green veggies such as celery and spinach is that they’re high in nitrates. Same goes with beet juice, of all things. Nitrates are vasodilators: they open up the blood vessels and increase the blood flow. As we discussed in Part 2 of this series, today’s top ED prescription drugs are based upon the relaxing effects of nitrates on the blood vessels that feed the penis.
While the nitrates in a spinach salad may not be as concentrated as the active ingredient in, say, Levitra, they still might be beneficial. As for beet juice…well, okay, it may not be the most exciting drink in the world, but if you mix it with other juices or blend it into a smoothie, it’s not half bad.
Chocolate: come on over to the dark side
Consider this your reward for being a good boy and eating your veggies. Chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac, which may go a long way towards explaining its popularity as a Valentine’s Day or anniversary gift. Some women would say that another factor in its popularity on these special days is their men’s lack of imagination, but as for us, we’d be the last ones to knock chocolate – particularly dark chocolate. The dark stuff is rich in flavonoids, which are naturally-occurring antioxidants. In nature flavonoids assist plants in repairing cell damage, and they also protect plants from environmental toxins. Some studies have shown that flavonoids and other antioxidants may have similar effects in humans, and may also help decrease bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
More to the point (so to speak), other studies have shown that the flavonoids in dark chocolate may improve circulation as well. You already know what improved circulation can do in the wood department. In addition, chocolate might even fight sexual dysfunction (yours and hers) through mood improvement, since it contains the mood-booster phenylethylamine. And need we even mention that it’s a treat for your palate in the bargain?
The world is your oyster, you shellfish prick
Oysters have long rated up there with chocolate as a reputed aphrodisiac. (Would the ultimate love concoction be a chocolate-covered oyster? Well, maybe not.) There’s some science to support the oyster’s sexy rep, as oysters – and other shellfish too, for that matter – are rich in the mineral zinc. Zinc plays an important role in the production of testosterone; as it happens, a zinc deficiency can hamper sperm count and fertility as well as erectile abilities. So if your ED is caused by Low-T, adding oysters to your diet may be helpful. Oysters are also high in iron, which is essential for energy. Some studies have also shown that raw shellfish contain other compounds that stimulate the release of sex hormones in both men and women.
Needless to say, you want to be sure you practice safe eating. In some areas, environmental toxins or diseases make the consumption of local raw seafood a real health gamble, so always check with area health advisories. But even if you can’t eat ’em raw, there are many other ways to munch your mollusks, and you’ll still get the nutritional benefits.
A melon for melancholia
Watermelons are 92 percent water, and water’s always good for you, but it’s that other eight percent that really interests ED researchers. Some studies have shown that watermelon may have similar effects to Viagra; the phytonutrients in the flesh and rind can relax the blood vessels that supply the penis. These phytonutrients can also benefit the heart. Even better: eating watermelon may increase sexual desire in both men and women.
Although researchers caution that more research is needed to prove watermelon’s efficacy for treatment of Erectile Dysfunction, it can’t hurt to add the fruit to your diet when the season rolls around. And if you don’t like spitting out all of those seeds, try one of the seedless varieties.
Nuts for your nuts
Pistachio nuts are high in protein, particularly a protein called argenine (see below), which may help relax blood vessels and improve circulation. One study found that guys with ED who consumed pistachios every day for three weeks reported a big improvement in sexual issues – including ED, sexual desire, and overall sexual satisfaction.
You say tomato, we say lycopene
Deep red fruits such as tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a phytonutrient that not only could help fight some forms of cancer (including prostate cancer), but is also good for circulation. And as you know, what’s good for the blood flow is good for the hard-on. Lycopene and other antioxidants may also help fight male infertility.
Oily veggies such as avocado and spinach may facilitate the absorption of lycopene, as may some oil-based salad dressings. If you’re not a fan of raw tomatoes, the good news is that lycopene is also available in cooked and processed tomato products, such as juices, soups, pasta sauces, and even…yes…ketchup.
By the way, grapefruits are also high in lycopene. However, grapefruits and grapefruit juice, as well as other citrus fruits, can interact with some medications, either strengthening them to dangerous levels or weakening them so they’re ineffective. When taking any medication, even an over-the-counter med, ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions, or do your own research.
“Your cheeks are like rosy pomegranates beneath your veil…”
These days, it seems you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting some food, drink, health product, or beauty elixir that contains pomegranate in some form. Pomegranates have enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years, but the fruit has been revered for centuries (you may have recognized the quotation above from the Song of Solomon in the Hebrew and Christian Bible). The pomegranate-flavored syrup grenadine is a popular cocktail ingredient, and pomegranate juice is sold by itself or as part of numerous (nonalcoholic) juice blends and juice cocktails. Pomegranate has also found its way into salad dressings, sauces, and numerous other beverages and food products.
Though pomegranates are rich in antioxidants and other beneficial ingredients, they’re not a miracle fruit, but that hasn’t stopped scads of overeager network marketers from seeking financial independence by peddling overpriced pom-juice potions. All hype aside, pomegranates do seem to have health benefits, and in one study, guys who drank pomegranate juice for four weeks had improved scores on an Erectile Dysfunction assessment. So it may be worth trying. If pure pom juice is a little too intense for your tastes, try some of the 100% juice blends that have pomegranate as the main ingredient. Or add whole pomegranate seeds to salads, yogurts, or any other food you enjoy.
There are numerous other foods that may be good for your circulation: peanuts, onions, apples, cranberries, tea (particularly green tea), and red wine. Taking good care of your vascular health could go a long way towards solving your ED. And eating a good diet in general can improve your overall health, which can also help ED.
Certain herbs may be helpful for men with Erectile Dysfunction. No, sorry… we’re not going to suggest you go out and smoke that illegal herb. However, there are a few legal ones that may help guys with ED. In fact, herbs and other natural remedies have long been used in African, Chinese, and other indigenous medical traditions to treat ED and many other conditions. Even so, experimenting with herbs on your own can be risky to your health, particularly since some herbs and supplements haven’t been well-studied or tested. If you’re considering adding herbs to your arsenal in the battle against ED, ask your doctor. That said, here are a few you might want to discuss with your doc.
Barking up the right tree for ED?
Yohimbe is an alkaloid that comes from the bark of the African yohimbe tree, Pausinystalia yohimbe. The active ingredient that interests many ED researchers is yohimbine, a stimulant and possible aphrodisiac, which also occurs naturally in a few other plants, such as Indian snakeroot. Yohimbe extract is available in various strengths and forms in numerous over-the-counter supplements, and a standardized form of yohimbine, yohimbine hydrochloride, is available by prescription in the US. Yohimbine has been shown to help some men with Erectile Dysfunction, particularly if the ED is caused by psychological issues.