Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition that affects a man’s ability to get or keep an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. Occasional ED isn’t uncommon and it is often linked to stress. However, frequent ED may be caused by health problems that need treatment.
According to research, following a plant-based diet can help treat ED.
Understanding erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction occurs because of problems at any stage of the erection process. When a man is sexually excited, a muscle within the blood vessels in the penis relaxes, which allows for increased blood flow through the penile arteries, filling two chambers inside the penis. As the chambers fill with blood, the penis grows rigid and erect. An erection ends when the muscles in the blood vessels contract and the accumulated blood flows out through the penile veins.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, at least 30 million men in the U.S. have ED. The prevalence of ED increases with age. The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health also says that mild or moderate ED affects an estimated 10 percent more men for each decade of life. This means that 60 percent of men in their 60s might experience some form of ED.
ED can also occur among younger people. According to a 2013 study, one in four men seeking their first treatment for ED is under 40 years old. The researchers observed a stronger correlation between smoking, drug use and ED in these men compared to older men. This suggests that lifestyle choices are an important factor for ED in younger men.
While the risk of ED increases with age, ED isn’t inevitable. Generally, the healthier you are, the better your sexual function. If you have diabetes, you must take measures to manage your blood sugar as this can help prevent damage that can result in ED.
What causes erectile dysfunction?
There are many possible causes of ED, and they sometimes include both emotional and physical conditions. Common causes include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Certain prescription medications, like those used to treat high blood pressure or depression
- Consuming too much alcohol
- Damage to the pelvic area through injury or surgery
- Drug use
- High cholesterol
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Increased age
- Kidney disease
- Low testosterone levels or other hormone imbalances
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Peyronie’s disease, which causes scar tissue to develop in the penis
- Relationship problems
- Sleep disorders
- Using tobacco products
ED can be caused by any of these factors or by several others. If you are unsure about your condition, consult your physician so they can rule out any underlying conditions.
Treating and preventing erectile dysfunction with dietary changes
In most cases, ED is related to problems with blood flow. This means maintaining healthy blood vessels can help prevent or treat ED. You can do this by making healthy lifestyle changes, like following a balanced diet. Results from a small 2021 study suggest that a plant-based diet can help treat ED.
Aside from making dietary changes, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and reducing your alcohol consumption can lower your risk of developing conditions that lead to ED. These lifestyle changes can also help you manage your stress levels, which is important for a healthy sex life.
Many studies point to a link between poor diet and ED. A 2018 review showed that:
- Men who follow a “Western diet” may have lower semen quality.
- ED is less common among men who follow a Mediterranean diet.
- Weight loss improves ED in men who are overweight or obese.
A Mediterranean diet includes lots of fresh, plant-based foods and fish and very little meat.
The following superfoods can also offer benefits if you have ED:
According to studies, consuming foods high in antioxidant flavonoids may help reduce the risk of ED. Findings from a 2018 study show that those who consume 50 milligrams (mg) or more of flavonoids per day are 32 percent less likely to develop ED.
These superfoods are full of beneficial flavonoids:
- Cocoa and dark chocolate
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and grains
Flavonoids help increase blood flow and the concentration of nitric oxide in the blood, both of which are important for getting and maintaining an erection.
Pistachio may be more than a tasty, savory snack.
In a 2011 study, 17 men who had ED for at least one year ate 100 grams of pistachios per day for three weeks. Once the study concluded, researchers reported that there was an overall improvement in their scores for ED, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Pistachios contain antioxidants, fiber, healthy fats and plant proteins. These nutrients may contribute to cardiovascular health and nitric oxide production.
Watermelon is rich in lycopene, which may have various health benefits. Data from a 2012 animal study showed that lycopene helped treat ED in rat subjects with diabetes. Researchers believe lycopene is a potential treatment option for men with ED.
Other superfoods that contain lycopene include:
- Red peppers
Watermelon also contains a compound called citrulline which helps relax blood vessels and improve blood flow. In 2018, a research team discovered that adding an L-citrulline-resveratrol combination to PDE5i therapy (like Viagra) can help men with ED who find standard treatment ineffective.
If you have ED, make changes to your lifestyle habits. Improve your eating habits, eat more plant-based foods, quit smoking and drinking and try to reconnect with your partner emotionally to improve your condition.
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Watch the video below for more information on how high blood pressure affects erectile dysfunction.
This video is from the Sraa Value channel on Brighteon.com.
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