There are many men who need help with erectile dysfunction (ED). Some only struggle to achieve or maintain an erection on the odd occasion while others have a more permanent problem.
There are a number of radical treatments available, but if you only experience occasional erectile dysfunction and want to treat it without any medical intervention, you could do it at home – with food.
“A healthy diet and an avoidance of highly processed unhealthy food will go a long way towards relieving symptoms of erectile dysfunction,” said Dr Zakariyya Patel of Pelonomi Hospital Complex in Bloemfontein.
Although certain foods may assist with ED, cases are not well documented and evidence is only anecdotal – based on individual accounts, said Dr Patel. These foods can be labelled as aphrodisiacs, and although some people may swear by their effects, there is no medical evidence that any one specific food can cure ED.
“The reason for this is that ED is a complex condition that may have complicated aetiology (causes). So, certain foods may increase sexual desire to a certain extent but it does not mean that it will change the ED if the underlying cause is not addressed,” added Dr Patel.
Foods that may increase your sexual desire:
- Berries (as well as citrus fruits) contain chemicals that are associated with a decreased risk of ED.
- Dark chocolate increases levels of dopamine, the “pleasure” hormone, in the body.
- Oysters contain more zinc than other foods and assists with sperm mobility.
- Cayenne pepper raises the heart rate and releases endorphins.
- Red wine relaxes the arteries and increases blood flow to the genitals. (Red wine contains the same biochemicals found in berries and citrus fruits.)
- Pistachios contain the protein arginine, which relaxes the blood vessels, increasing blood flow throughout the body.
- Coffee. A study suggests that caffeine relaxes certain muscles and arteries in the penis, increasing blood flow and helping to maintain an erection.
Your lifestyle has an impact
Owing to the fact that physiological factors like blood flow and hormone levels may affect erectile dysfunction, a good diet with the right vitamins and minerals will optimise the patient’s sexual health, according to Dr Patel.
It does, however, not mean that there is a "silver bullet" that will "magically" solve the problem.
And as the world population struggles with obesity and cardiovascular disease, there is a significant increase in diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, which have a direct impact on blood flow – consequently increasing the severity of ED, Dr Patel added.
Exercise may help
Studies have shown that men who exercise more have better sexual and erectile function. Better sexual function was reported by men in the study who engaged in either two hours of strenuous exercise, 3.5 hours of moderate exercise, or six hours of light exercise a week.
And although there is no specific exercise men need to do in order to achieve better sexual health, any form of exercise is better than none at all.