Want a good reason to lose weight in the new year? Shedding pounds will help your sex life.
And I'm not just talking about looking more attractive. I'm talking about a way to help combat a common problem that men rarely discuss: erectile dysfunction (ED).
About one in five men age 60 and older suffer from ED. But many refuse to seek medical help. They might turn to alternative options, which are dangerous.
If you remember, last year, the FDA cracked down on hundreds of supplements that contained unmarked pharmaceutical drugs. And one of the most popular types of pills on that list? You guessed it... ED pills. If you take anything like this that your doctor hasn't prescribed, you risk interactions with your other medications as well as unforeseen side effects.
But a new study gives us even more reason for concern (and should urge you to seek help).
It turns out, there's a genetic link between the risk of getting type 2 diabetes and ED. The study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, took a deep look into the genetic composition of 220,000 men. Of those, about 6,000 had ED.
What they found was simple... There's a certain code in your genes that might increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. This same genetic code also causes ED.
Now, does that mean ED is inevitable and only depends on our genes? Of course not. Just like diabetes, there are many underlying factors. In fact, it's not unusual to see the two conditions occur together.
Here's a look at the overlapping factors. Each of these things can cause both type 2 diabetes and ED...
- Age (45 and older)
- Excess weight
- History of heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Lack of physical activity
It makes sense that taking care of these symptoms not only reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes, but also treats ED.
And the best way to do this is to get active and lose weight. Excess weight is one of the most influential factors for type 2 diabetes. In fact, a paper in the BMJ declared that losing an average of 33 pounds often means you go into "remission." In other words, you no longer have diabetes. And losing weight also reduces your problems with ED.
With that in mind, I wanted to revisit some of the best ways you can fight ED naturally... and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes this year.
My Top Four Ways to Fight ED Naturally
- Exercise. A few years ago, a Harvard study showed that even walking for just 30 minutes a day helps lower the risk of ED by 41%.
Losing those few extra pounds will help too. More weight on your body strains your cardiovascular system, which can lower the blood flow to your penis. That's why movement, along with dietary changes, helps shed pounds.
- Try the Mediterranean diet. Several trials have shown that eating a diet similar to what people living around the Mediterranean Sea eat – one that's rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and fish – helps your immune system. It even helps keep your brain healthy and fights off signs of aging.
As it turns out, the Mediterranean diet also helps reverse ED. A study from the University of Naples showed that men who tried the diet for two years saw improvement.
Plus, these men all had metabolic syndrome – a fancy way of saying they had high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and excess fat around their stomachs. So they had several factors causing ED... making their improvements that much more significant.
What's more, the Mediterranean diet made headlines this week... We're going to cover more on that later this week, so keep an eye out for that issue.
- Get the right amount of sleep. Studies show a link between sleep deprivation and ED.
Researchers explain that you make testosterone during your sleeping hours. That means if you aren't sleeping enough or aren't sleeping well, your testosterone levels will drop, which leads to ED.
Because of this link, ED could also signal a deeper problem with sleep.
A study from Mount Sinai Medical Center found that 63% of patients reporting ED tested positive for sleep apnea, a condition where your breathing starts and stops irregularly during sleep.
Sleeping well is crucial for so many aspects of our health. You can read my tips on how to improve your sleep "hygiene" right here.
- Avoid the artificial sweetener aspartame. It is 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 antidepressants, called selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), lower libido. Some also cause ED.
We've talked before about how artificial sweeteners still cause issues with blood sugar regulation and inflammation. Both of those, of course, lead to type 2 diabetes as well.
Your hormones also play a crucial role in both diabetes and ED, so don't use any so-called hormone disruptors. That means avoiding too many soy products, BPA, and pesticides. You can read more on these in our issue, here.
Applying these four suggestions will not only improve your sex life, but keep you healthier as well. Remember, many diseases share the same underlying factors. So taking care of yourself this year will improve your overall health.
What We're Reading...
- Something different: Try some 'oms' to fight off colds.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
January 8, 2019