The male diet plays a vital role in managing hormones, blood sugar levels and mood - integral to an optimal sex drive.

Is your diet affecting your libido?

Males of all ages can experience a decreased sex drive at some point in their lives, causing embarrassment and frustration. If you’re struggling to pinpoint exactly why you’re losing interest in the bedroom, it might be worth reviewing your diet.

What you eat can affect hormones, blood sugar and energy, and some foods can cause adverse reactions in the body. Changing your diet may help you improve your sexual health and prevent erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction or decreased libido?

Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man is unable to achieve or sustain an erection during intercourse, afflicting all ages, for long or short periods of time. Regardless of these factors, it can frustrate those suffering from the condition.

While erectile dysfunction and decreased libido can develop from several causes including psychological issues, many overlook diet. The male diet plays a vital role in managing hormones, blood sugar levels and mood – integral to an optimal sex drive.

Foods that lower testosterone

Testosterone is integral to keeping a male’s libido strong, with low levels prompting many to complain of a low sex drive. Although some foods contribute to boosting testosterone, others reduce the hormone levels. You can give your body the best chance at improving your sexual health by testing your testosterone levels and adjusting your diet to suit.

The following foods are proven to decrease testosterone in men and women:

Flaxseeds – The lignans, which are highly estrogenic, can reduce the level of free testosterone. (The Effect of Flaxseed Supplementation on Hormonal Levels)

Liquorice – Glycyrrhizic acid can reduce testosterone levels in healthy male subjects. (Reduction of Serum Testosterone in Men by Liquorice)

Alcohol – Beer, wine and alcohol can decrease testosterone levels in men. (Alcohol and the Male Reproductive System)

Soy – Made with soybeans, the high phytoestrogen levels can impact testosterone levels negatively. (Effect of Soy Protein on Testosterone Levels)

Foods that increase testosterone

You may see a change in your sexual health by removing the above foods from your diet. Alternatively, stock up on the following foods, which are proven to increase testosterone levels in the body:

Pumpkin seeds – The high levels of zinc can increase testosterone and sperm count while boosting your libido. (Zinc Status and Serum Testosterone Levels of Healthy Adults)

Olive oil – A tablespoon a day can boost testosterone levels by more than 17%. (Effect of Argan and Olive Oil Consumption on the Hormonal Profile)

Pomegranate – The high levels of antioxidants and minerals promote increased libido and testosterone levels. (Pomegranate Juice Intake Enhances Salivary Testosterone Levels).

We recommend consulting your doctor before modifying your diet.

Low energy equals low sex drive

A diet low in nutritious foods causes low energy. Additionally, take away and junk foods lack essential vitamins and minerals, which can lead to deficiencies. These factors all contribute to low energy and decreased sex drive.

Trans-fat found in burgers, hot chips and other deep-fried foods can reduce your libido in a similar way to the testosterone-reducing foods above. Additionally, weight gain can occur if you regularly consume these foods, which also contributes to compromised sexual health.

Not only does your appearance have a physiological impact on your sex drive, but obesity can increase the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease, all of which are contributors to erectile dysfunction.

Those with a poor diet or restrictive vegetarians and vegans can also experience food deficiencies, including B12 and zinc. A lack of essential nutrients leaves you exhausted and can cause serious illnesses. We recommend getting a blood test to detect a vitamin or mineral deficiency, a potential source of your poor libido.

Gut flora & male health

Gut health can influence your libido and contribute to erectile dysfunction. Studies, including “The Gut-Brain Axis: The Missing Link in Depression”, conclude an imbalance in your gut flora, where bad bacteria outweighs the good, can contribute to depression and anxiety. Your brain is responsible for sending the message to your penis that it’s time to work, which is unlikely if it’s in a negative frame of mind.

Alcohol, antibiotics and stress can wreak havoc on your gut flora since they allow the bad bacteria to proliferate. The imbalance can cause mental and physical issues, which might be why you are experiencing erectile dysfunction symptoms. Fortunately, you can improve the state of both your gut and sexual health with probiotics.

Either supplement with a probiotic or increase the number of fermented foods you eat, with the following choices:

• Yoghurt
• Kombucha
• Sauerkraut
• Apple cider vinegar
• Kefir
• Kimchi

The best way to determine if you have a gut imbalance is to speak to your doctor, who will likely recommend a stool sample. Your doctor can then recommend a specific strain to address any conditions or issues.

Although revamping your diet can be hard, with a few minor tweaks you may increase your libido or cure erectile dysfunction naturally.

About Dr Phillip Katelaris

Dr Phillip Katelaris, a urologist in Sydney. With over 25 years’ experience in urological practice and surgery, Dr Katelaris is a well-respected professional in the field. He has been interviewed on Channel 7, 2GB and 2UE on his expertise and experience in urological practice and men’s health issues.