Food and sex have a long, complicated history. For years we’ve heard that what we eat can have sexual effectsthat work on both a psychosomatic level and a physiological level. Supported in part by mythological beliefs and in part by actual science, we have widely accepted that what turns us on could very well start in the kitchen. But did you ever consider that there are also some foods that could slow your sex drive down to a near screeching halt?
Let’s back up and discuss the basics. Sexual desires are controlled by what is known as the libido — a fancy word for sex drive. Libido is determined by a number of factors that include sociological, psychological, and hormonal influences.[related]
“In both men and women, the hormone testosterone drives much of human libido,” explains Dr. Michael Hirt, founder of the Center for Integrative Medicine in California's San Fernando Valley, who often hands out a list of foods to patients who complain about a lowered sex drive. “Low testosterone means a lower sex drive.”
While there isn’t much scientific evidence that such foods can really rev up your sex drive, many still believe that certain foodstuffs can help us become aroused through their smell, taste, and texture (slurping oysters, anyone?).
To help you make sure your romantic evening isn’t cut short, we’ve put together the following list of hormone-altering, sense-changing foods and drinks. To help keep the proverbial fires burning, you might want to keep these foods off your date-night menu.
There are some facts about alcohol that just aren’t true, and its suspected correlation with sexual desire is one of them. Alcohol may work to give you “liquid courage” to approach someone at the bar, but it can seriously damage your ability to perform. “Alcoholic beverages do a double whammy on your sex life by lowering your testosterone and your sexual functioning,” says Hirt.
Processed foods, especially all-purpose or white flour, are stripped of many nutrients which are vital for sexual health. One such nutrient, the mineral zinc, is essential to a man’s reproductive health.
So before you buy your next loaf of bread, there are some things you need to know. Compared to whole-grain or whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour has about three-quarters less zinc. Additionally, eating large amounts of all-purpose flour without adequate protein and fats can lead to insulin resistance and, eventually, diabetes. Diabetes can, in turn, narrow one’s arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease and erectile dysfunction. If you’re looking to keep your sex life healthy, check out our list of foods you can eat after removing processed foods from your diet.
While eating beets before your workout can improve muscle function, these surprisingly sugary vegetables may not do much to bolster your sexual prowess. Consuming these trendy root vegetables will support healthy estrogen levels in your body, which could have negative consequences for those with an existing hormonal imbalance. If your hormones are stable, though, beets’ natural ability to increase blood flow may prove beneficial for men who have trouble getting “inspired.”
From a nutritional standpoint, eating fresh or frozen berries is incredibly beneficial. But produce with edible skin, especially berries, contains some of the highest levels of pesticides, some of which mimic estrogen. If you can find some organic, pesticide-free berries, however, you’ll find that their vitamin content can help to improve your sex life.
There are many, many reasons to avoid conventionally bottled water, but when it comes to virility and fertility, the BPAs found in plastic bottles are the largest one. Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, is a chemical component found in many plastic food containers that can harm your body in more ways than one. You’re better off avoiding BPAs when selecting a reusable water bottle, especially because they can cause erectile dysfunction in men. Additionally, a Slovenian study published in Fertility & Sterility found a significant association between urinary BPA concentration in men and lower total sperm count, concentration, and vitality. In a Harvard School of Public Health study, it was found that women who had higher BPA levels in their bodies produced 27 percent less viable eggs.
Many canned soups contain outrageously high levels of sodium, an ingredient that can lead to elevated blood pressure and, in turn, do a lot of damage to your heart. Additionally, sodium can diminish blood flow. That’s not great news, especially since your body relies on good circulation when you’re having sex.
Sure, a well-thought out cheese plate is the perfect way to start a party or gathering (or to end a serious dinner), but guests may not be taking the party back to their place if they loaded up on too much. If derived from cow’s milk (which could be loaded with synthetic hormones), cheese can potentially mess with your body’s natural production of hormones, including estrogen and testosterone.
Yes, both chocolate and berries made this list. So maybe chocolate-covered strawberries aren’t the best idea for a romantic gift?
Some dark chocolate is really good for you — so long as you know which kind to buy. But it could be harming your sex life. Though usually thought of as an aphrodisiac because it can stimulate feelings of euphoria and love, according to Dr. Michael Hirt, it will also suppress testosterone levels.
Is there such thing as too much coffee? Maybe, so far as your sex life is concerned. Sure, coffee’s caffeine supply could give you increased stamina for sex, but if you’re someone who gets jittery from coffee, this will not be a love potion for you. Increased anxiety can lower your sex drive, a frequent complaint of people with caffeine sensitivity. Consider tryingone of our 26 morning pick-me-ups that aren’t coffee that contains less caffeine in order to get your love life back in order.
Unfortunately, a passionate, fulfilling sex life isn’t one of the best cereal box toys ever. On the contrary, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who popularized cornflakes, believed that sweet or spicy foods inflamed the passions and sought to depress the libido with a bland, sugarless cereal that no one could find arousing. While some brands of cornflakes are healthier than others, their carbohydrate content may be responsible for one’s deflated desires.
Much of the meat from your favorite deli is packaged at one point or another in PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Fatty meats can absorb PVC, causing some undesirable hormonal changes. We think that there’s something to be said for avoiding processed meats, but if you can’t resist a turkey sandwich for lunch, ask for your meat to be wrapped in brown butcher paper.
Eating and drinking products with artificial sweeteners can be a total buzzkill to your health for a number of reasons. Sweeteners, especially aspartame, may affect your serotonin levels, a vital hormone in helping you get in the mood. If you’re a man, try one of our nine best drinks for men’s health instead.
In one 2007 study, a 31-year-old woman was supplemented with flaxseed to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a common endocrine disorder. Researchers were surprised to find that her testosterone levels declined by 70 percent. Though the research on flaxseed and libido is inconclusive, you might want to consider getting your healthy fats from other sources if you’re concerned.
Though some women have tried eating fries after sex to boost their chances of pregnancy, there’s little evidence that it would work. Plus, eating fries with your partner could suppress your desires later on. Hydrogenated oils used to fry food can lower testosterone levels.
Can you pronounce glycyrrhizin? Yeah, neither can we, but it’s a component of licorice that can negatively affect your sex life. Glycyrrhizin reduces testosterone levels in men, resulting in a lower libido. If you’re looking for something sexy to snack on, ditch the licorice in favor of pistachios — they’ll help your blood vessels to relax and, hopefully, your sexual functions to improve.
If you want a healthy sex life, you may want to avoid edibles. People love adding pot to all kinds of foods, including marijuana peanut butter and THC-free weed-infused vodka. But it can detract from one’s sexual drive (and ability) by lowering testosterone levels for up to 24 hours. Skip the ganja in favor of a more wholesome leaf: Dark leafy greens can help to combat erectile dysfunction.
Dinner and a movie may be romantic, but that tub of microwaved popcorn could totally kill the mood, especially for men. Chemicals like perfluorooctanoic acid found in the bag’s lining can kill your sex drive and, over the long term, even cause prostate problems. Popcorn from the movie theater isn’t much better. It may or may not affect your sex drive, butit is one of the absolute unhealthiest things you can eat.
One of the most estrogen-mimicking pesticides found in food is 4-hexylresorcinol, which is often applied to shrimp to help preserve their color. That’s a reason to avoid supermarket seafood if we’ve ever heard one. If you’re looking to make a delicious shrimp recipe this summer, stick to a pesticide-free shrimp manufacturer. Farmed tilapia and salmon also can contain pesticides that may interfere with your sex life. Find out why one doctor has given up eating tilapia altogether.
All meatheads know this: Soy-based protein powders are associated with increased estrogen levels. If you’re looking to increase testosterone levels in order to gain muscle, putting soy protein in your shaker bottle is arguably one of the worst things you can do. Men and women looking for a healthy sex life may benefit from avoiding soy in favor of other types of protein powder, as consuming copious amounts of it can result in a significant drop in your libido.
Blood flow is crucial to a healthy sex life — but if you’re clogging your arteries with trans fats, it’s bound to affect your blood flow. These fats have all kinds of scary effects on your body, so you may want to avoid these foods that still contain the dangerous compounds.
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