Reversing Impotence (Erectile Dysfunction) With Nutrition

Erectile dysfunction affects an estimated 18 million men in the US. It is estimated that the worldwide prevalence of erectile dysfunction will be 322 million cases by 2025.

Erectile dysfunction leads to reduced sexual intimacy and reduced quality of life. These, in turn, lead to psychological distress for both the affected man and their sexual partner. [1-3]

Many factors can cause impotence among men. The risk factors for erectile dysfunction are the same as those that lead to heart disease and include: smoking, obesity, low activity levels, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and metabolic syndrome. 

Erectile dysfunction can be used as an early indicator of future heart disease. It may represent an opportunity to make the necessary lifestyle changes to prevent the two conditions before more damage occurs. Furthermore, erectile dysfunction is a marker of all-cause mortality.[4-7 ]

Diet and nutrition play a significant role in erectile dysfunction. How much you eat, when you eat, and what type of foods you consume will affect your mood, blood flow, energy levels, and hormones – all important for healthy sex life. [8] People with existing health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and other medical issues may have a higher risk of erectile dysfunction. Anxiety, stress, or depression can also contribute to the problem. 

However, there is hope! The proper foods and lifestyle habits can positively affect your health, boost erection and testosterone levels. 

Diet and Lifestyle Changes That Improve Erectile Dysfunction:

Several studies have shown a direct link between diet and erectile dysfunction. One study that involved 21,469 men concluded that erectile dysfunction is less common among those who consumed higher intakes of vegetables, fruit, legumes, fish, or other sources of omega-3 fatty acids. A higher intake of red or processed meat and trans fatty acids was associated with a higher risk of erectile dysfunction. [9]

A literature review of thirteen studies on diet and erectile dysfunction and 15 studies on diet and testosterone levels were reviewed and found to demonstrate that erectile dysfunction appears to lessen in men adhering to the Mediterranean diet. Obese and overweight men who lose weight through low-fat diets improve their erectile function and testosterone levels. Furthermore, a Western diet was associated with lower semen quality. [10] 

Specific Foods That Improve Erectile Dysfunction:

The foods that influence erectile dysfunction the most are foods with properties that: [11-14]

  • Reduce oxidative stress
  • Reduce inflammation 
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Reduce endothelial dysfunction
  • Improve insulin sensitivity.

The best few foods to help you achieve all five of these are as follows:

1. Flavonoid Rich foods

Several studies have suggested that consuming food rich in flavonoids may reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction. [15] Flavonoids have beneficial anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, protecting your cells from oxidative damage that may lead to disease. According to a study from 2018, men who consume 50 mg or more of flavonoids daily were 32% less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. [16] Rich dietary sources of flavonoids include cocoa and dark chocolate – over 90% cocoa chocolate is best. Also, berries are rich in flavonoids, but the berries richest in flavonoids include blackberries, blueberries, cherries, and raspberries. Strawberries are less potent in their flavonoid content but still contain sufficient amounts to support healthy erectile function. More foods rich in flavonoids include onions, cabbage, citrus fruits, kale, soybeans, parsley, green and oolong teas.

2. High L-Arginine Foods

Nitric oxide is the principal-agent responsible for inducing smooth muscle relaxation and erection. There is a generation of nitric oxide from the amino acid L-arginine. This leads to a widening and relaxation of arteries and blood vessels, improving blood flow. Although typically arginine deficiencies are rare, during times of stress or high exercise levels, or disease, the body’s production may not meet its requirements, and supplementation with arginine-rich foods can be helpful. The plant-based foods richest in L-arginine that will not have paradoxical effects on blood vessel health include pistachios, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, peanuts, and spirulina. Spirulina can be consumed in powder form, as a supplement, or bought frozen and added to drinks and foods. [17-18]

3. Lycopene 

Lycopene is one of the most potent antioxidants among the natural carotenoids. One study examining erectile dysfunction among people with diabetes proved that lycopene treatment could be a new strategy for treating diabetic erectile dysfunction. [19]

Watermelon is an excellent source of lycopene, which has several health benefits. Other sources of lycopene include tomatoes, papaya, grapefruit, and red peppers. Watermelon also contains citrulline, a compound that improves blood flow, which is vital for proper erection. Foods rich in lycopene are recommended for regular consumption to support healthy erectile function.

4. Resveratrol

Resveratrol reduces the level of pro-inflammatory factors and hypercholesterolemia, which also leads to erectile dysfunction and endothelial dysfunction. [20-22] Foods richest in resveratrol include peanuts, grapes with their skin, and pomegranate juice. It is recommended to incorporate these foods regularly into your diet or take resveratrol in supplement form 3 times a week in the morning.

5. Nut intake

One study showed that the ratio of monounsaturated fats (from olives, nuts, and seeds) to saturated fats (from meat and dairy) was associated with erectile dysfunction.

Their research concluded that a dietary pattern high in fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and fish but low in red and processed meat and refined grains was more represented in subjects without erectile dysfunction than men with erectile dysfunction. [23]

Another recent study observed a significant increase in erectile function after consuming 60 g/day of nuts, which is about a large handful. [24]

Another study showed that specific nuts improved the quality of semen, especially almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts. [25]

Take Away

Erectile dysfunction affects many healthy males who may be suffering from an underlying heart issue that is yet unobserved. By combining a healthy, primarily plant-based diet rich in the foods mentioned here, you can maintain good health and healthy sex life and live a longer, healthier life.

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References:

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  4. Johannes CB, Araujo AB, Feldman HA, Derby CA, Kleinman KP, McKinlay JB. Incidence of erectile dysfunction in men 40 to 69 years old: longitudinal results from the Massachusetts male aging study. J Urol. 2000;163(2):460-463. doi:10.1016/S0022-5347(05)67900-1
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  15. Esposito K, Marfella R, Ciotola M, Di Palo C, Giugliano F, Giugliano G et al. Effect of a Mediterranean-style diet on endothelial dysfunction and markers of vascular inflammation in the metabolic syndrome: a randomized trial. JAMA 2004; 292: 1440–1446.
  16. Aedín Cassidy, Mary Franz, and Eric B Rimm. Dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of erectile dysfunction. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Feb; 103(2): 534–541. Published online 2016 Jan 13. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.122010
  17. Ioannis Mykoniatis, Maria G Grammatikopoulou, Emmanouil Bouras, Efthalia Karampasi, Aikaterini Tsionga, Athanasios Kogias, Ioannis Vakalopoulos, Anna-Bettina Haidich, Michael Chourdakis. Sexual Dysfunction Among Young Men: Overview of Dietary Components Associated With Erectile Dysfunction. J Sex Med. 2018 Feb;15(2):176-182. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.12.008. Epub 2018 Jan 8.
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  24. Salas-Huetos A, Muralidharan J, Galiè S, Salas-Salvadó J, Bulló M. Effect of Nut Consumption on Erectile and Sexual Function in Healthy Males: A Secondary Outcome Analysis of the FERTINUTS Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2019; 11(6):1372. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu110613722
  25. Salas-Huetos A, Moraleda R, Giardina S, Anton E, Blanco J, Salas-Salvadó J, Bulló M. Effect of nut consumption on semen quality and functionality in healthy men consuming a Western-style diet: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Nov 1;108(5):953-962. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy181. PMID: 30475967.

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