Communication, compromise, mutual respect… all building blocks of a healthy relationship.
But what about sex?
Sex plays an important – and often unmentioned – role in relationships.
Couples who have sex at least once a week reported higher levels of happiness in a 2015 study from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
A good sex life fosters intimacy and triggers lots of feel-good hormones like oxytocin. It helps your heart, lowers blood pressure, strengthens your immune system, and now there’s even evidence that a healthy sex life correlates with lower rates of prostate cancer.
And as you get older, a healthy sex life can get more difficult…
For men, one of the biggest obstacles to a fulfilling sex life is erectile dysfunction (ED).
ED is an inability to get or keep an erection. But while some 30 million American men experience this significant health problem, a staggering 75% don’t seek treatment.
Conditions affecting your mental health, muscles, nerves, and more contribute to ED. That includes problems like diabetes, nerve disorders, and depression.
Exercising, drinking coffee, eating a Mediterranean diet, and getting enough sleep all help fight ED naturally (you can read more in our issue where we told you to “toss your little blue pills.”)
But what if the problem isn’t ED… What if it’s a problem with libido?
Libido is commonly referred to as your sex drive. A low libido is more complicated than ED, although they share a number of underlying causes. However, low libido affects both men and women.
Causes of low libido include medications like those for high blood pressure and even some baldness drugs. Chronic illnesses, depression, and stress lower your sex drive. Men also face drops in testosterone levels as they age, and women experience hormonal imbalances during menopause that affect libido.
Again, like ED, there are many ways to naturally help your libido without resorting to pills. Here are some things to avoid and a few foods you should eat to get you in the mood…
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Three Ways to Avoid a Low Sex Drive
Avoid the artificial sweetener aspartame, often used to sweeten diet sodas and other “low calorie” and “sugar free” foods… This chemical basically exhausts the enzymes that break it down in our bodies. But these are the same enzymes the brain needs to make serotonin.
Too much aspartame and your serotonin levels drop.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter we need to boost our moods. It also controls smooth muscle contraction, proper sleep, body temperature, and more. And guess what – depression (from low serotonin) and exhaustion factor heavily into low libido.
That’s why certain anti-depressants called selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) lower libido. Some also cause ED.
Your hormones also play a crucial role, so don’t use any so-called hormone disruptors.
The most common hormone disruptor in foods that we’ve discussed is soy. Not only can it lead to men growing breasts when consumed in large amounts, but even moderate soy consumption introduces plant estrogen into your system. Depending on your individual makeup, you could see an imbalance and your libido will suffer.
Another hormone disruptor… avoid BPA. For years, I’ve warned my readers about the dangers of a chemical called bisphenol A, or “BPA.”
Scientists have linked BPA to prostate and breast cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. Even low doses of BPA can wreak havoc on your hormones. Good ways to avoid exposure include saying no to printed receipts, plastic bags, plastic bottles, and using glass instead of plastic containers in the microwave.
And finally, many pesticides contain chemicals that are powerful hormone disruptors.
A review from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that roughly 105 different chemicals cause hormone disruption. The problem is that these chemicals tend to bond easily to our estrogen or androgen receptors. That means they throw off our hormone balance.
These chemicals contaminate water supplies, when even small amounts can kill animals and result in human birth defects. That’s why you should thoroughly wash your produce. (I use a mix of three-parts water, one-part white vinegar… then I finish by rinsing off the produce with plain water.)
Plus, if you’re buying a fruit or veggie that’s more susceptible to absorbing pesticides, shop organic. We’ve detailed the “dirty dozen” you should watch out for here.
Nine Foods to Enjoy That Boost Libido
Several studies point to a link between zinc and libido…
One rat study demonstrated a dose-dependent relationship, meaning the more zinc the rats received, the friskier they got.
This is why oysters are popular aphrodisiacs… they contain the highest amounts of zinc. Red meat, crab, lobster, beans, and nuts are all good sources as well.
Chili peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical that creates an effect similar to what a body experiences during arousal. Capsaicin, as you know, affects our nerves, but it also speeds blood flow and triggers the release of epinephrine and endorphins, which make you feel calmer and happier… a good precursor for sex.
Chocolate stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which improves sexual function in men and women. What’s more, chocolate contains the molecule tyrosine, which your body makes into dopamine. High dopamine levels make you feel happier, calmer, and improve libido. Just be sure not to load up on too much sugar. A small amount of dark chocolate works best.
It might surprise you to know that watermelon improves your libido and eases ED. Watermelon is a good source of the amino acid citrulline. Your kidneys break citrulline into the amino acid arginine, which makes nitric oxide. And there’s some evidence citrulline acts as a vasodilator, meaning it improves blood flow.
Remember that everyone is different… If you’re experiencing low libido for longer periods of time and nothing seems to help, make an appointment with your doctor.
It might seem embarrassing, but taking care of the underlying cause will lead to a healthier and happier life.
What We’re Reading…
- Something different: Remembering Mr. Bond and one of his best stunts.
Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
May 30, 2017