SEX is off the menu for many young Brits, with fewer than half of 16 to 44-year-olds having sex at least once a week.
Stress, depression and poor physical health are factors but changing our diet can spice up our sex life. Recent research shows skipping meals can cut a man’s risk of impotence too.
Here, Lynsey Hope reveals the foods of love.
FAD: INTERMITTENT FASTING
REDUCES PERFORMANCE ISSUES
Experts claim that restricting calories reduces damage to the body’s circulation which in some men can lead to problems performing.
Skipping lunch or dinner two to three times a week can improve blood sugar control, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which is a common cause of erectile issues. It also boosts testosterone.
BOOSTS SEXUAL ATTRACTION
It may not sound like the most exciting food to boost your sex life but a number of studies have found that eating celery can actually increase the pheromone levels in a man’s sweat.
“This will make him more attractive to women,” explains Amanda Ursell, a nutritionist.
“It’s also full of vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, fibre and calcium so definitely a good staple for your diet.”
FAD: SIRTFOOD DIET
MAKES YOU HAPPY
The singer Adele claims to have shed seven stone on the Sirtfood diet but it could help your love life too. “The Sirtfood diet means you are eating a lot of plant-based foods. You are bound to have more energy, lose weight and feel better if you follow it,” says Amanda.
“But it also allows you a little of the things, like red wine and chocolate, that release ‘happy hormones’ to get you in the mood.”
HELP YOU RELAX
“Almonds are rich in magnesium, a nutrient that can help people to relax,” Louise Westra, a naturopath, explains.
“Women especially tend to feel more like having sex if they are feeling in the right mood. It’s no good going into it stressed or when your mind is somewhere else.
“Other foods that might help include green leafy vegetables, nuts and pumpkin seeds.”
FAD: LOW-CARB MEALS
MAKE FOR BETTER ORGASMS
The Mayo Clinic in America found that high oestrogen levels could completely curb a man’s desire for sex and reduce a woman’s ability to have an orgasm.
And Amanda says: “When you carry a lot of weight around your tummy, oestrogen levels will rise.
“People following a low-carb diet tend to lose weight very quickly, especially around their tummies, thus rebalancing hormones.”
TO DE-STRESS BEFORE SEX
“Stress affects the libido by raising levels of a hormone called cortisol in the body,” explains Jeannette Jackson, a nutritionist and author of The Drop Zone Diet.
“Raised cortisol levels narrow the arteries, restricting blood flow in the body.
“Choosing foods with anti-stress properties is a great way to boost your sex life and chocolate is a great one. It helps release chemicals called phenylethylamine and serotonin in the body.
“These help to lift mood, but they also boost circulation, getting blood flow down to your nether regions. This reduces the risk of not being able to perform.”
FAD: GOING VEGAN
Cutting out meat and dairy may heighten sexual experiences. “If you remove meat and dairy from your diet, you will reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats,” explains Louise Westra.
High levels of these “unhealthy” fats clog up the cardiovascular system, making you more likely to suffer from sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction.
“Even if you reduce your meat and dairy intake a little you will increase your intake of plant nutrients,” Louise adds.
“This will boost your cardiovascular health and heighten your sexual experience. You feel greater sensation as your body is flooded with fresh, oxygenated blood.”
B vitamins, especially B12, are very important if you want to enjoy more than a quickie, but the Framingham Offspring Study found that a staggering 40 per cent of people aged 27 to 83 had low levels.
“If you are deficient in B12 you will probably feel extremely fatigued or exhausted,” says Jeannette.
“If that’s how you feel it’s unlikely you’ll want to have sex. Watermelon is a great source of B12. It also contains lycopene, which is anti-inflammatory. This will help with any bodily pain, getting you more in the mood.”
FAD: MED-STYLE MEALS
A 2018 study found that men who follow a Mediterranean diet are less likely to suffer erectile problems and go on to enjoy sex later in life.
“Foods like fish and olive oil can raise levels of dopamine in the brain and trigger arousal”, says Louise.
“It can also raise levels of testosterone, which both men and women need for a healthy sex drive.
“A diet rich in vegetables and lean meat can also stabilise the body and your mood. If you’re not up and down emotionally, you are more likely to find yourself in the right mood for intimacy.”
Eggs contain a fat called choline, which is one of the most important fats in the brain. “Sex starts in the brain and I tell everyone who comes to my clinic to eat a boiled egg at 3pm every day,” Jeannette says.
“Choline can boost focus but it also improves nerve transmission, which means it could make nerve endings in the genital area more sensitive, giving you heightened pleasure and sensation when you have sex.”
FAD: SUGAR-FREE DIET
PREVENTS DIPS IN LIBIDO
“Adopting a no or low-sugar diet could well improve your libido,” explains Alice Godfrey, a nutritionist.
“When we eat carbohydrates like sugar — which might include cakes or biscuits — levels of the hormone insulin are raised and this disrupts the balance of other hormones and our libido is likely to suffer.
“Sugar also causes inflammation, which can mean oestrogen goes up and testosterone goes down, resulting in a lower libido. Inflammation can also interfere with the making of oestrogen and progesterone, which means female sexual desire and arousal are reduced. Cutting out sugar will definitely get you in the mood.”
“Oysters are famous for being an aphrodisiac but shrimps or mussels are just as good,” Jeannette says.
“All shellfish contain zinc. People that are low in zinc are often prone to anxiety and, if you’re feeling anxious, it’s unlikely you will want to have sex. Get yourself in the right mood by putting shellfish on the menu.”
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FAD: HIGH-PROTEIN DIET
REPAIRS MUSCLES FOLLOWING CHILDBIRTH
Amanda says: “Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth so it’s a good idea for new mums to up their protein intake if they want to boost their sex life.
“Tired new mums often struggle with their libido so upping protein and iron — found in red meat and leafy greens — could help with the healing process and get you back on track in the bedroom sooner.”
HELPS VAGINAL DRYNESS
“Leafy greens like broccoli, cabbage and kale could help women with their sex life post-menopause,” explains Amanda.
“They give us beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in our bodies, and vitamin E. Both are crucial for the healthy linings of our bodies, including mouths, lungs and vagina.
“Keeping well hydrated is also vital. A lack of lubrication can lead to vaginal dryness, a common issue for women post-menopause which may make having sex more difficult.”
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