Can eating the right foods really help things along in the bedroom? Nutritionist Michele Chevalley Hedge reveals it’s not just about the aphrodisiacs.
When it comes to libido, many experts agree it has more to do with what is in your head, rather than your stomach, that matters. That said, happy neurotransmitters, a healthy self-esteem, deep sleep and energy – all vital for good mental health are influenced by what we eat.
Low sex drive is more common than is talked about among friends. About 40 per cent of women will begin to experience a decline in libido well before menopause, when our ovaries start slowing down production of our key sex hormones – testosterone and oestrogen.
There are other influencing factors, too, such as physical and mental illness, exercise and stress levels. A healthy diet can improve your wellbeing on every level. And when all of those factors improve, so does your self-esteem. And that is the sweet spot: feeling good about yourself.
However, how you feel physically can also go a long way toward putting you in the mood for sex – and also your enjoyment of it once you’re in the moment. Here are five nutrient-dense foods to add to your shopping list today to help spice up your night:
1. Pink fruit and vegetables
Move over, chocolate. There are two new passion enticers emerging. Scientists have recently been studying how the nutrients found in watermelons and beets relate to sexual arousal. Watermelons contain lycopene, beta-carotene and citrulline, which are said to have a Viagra-like effect on the body’s blood vessels. Citrulline is converted to an amino acid that improves heart and circulatory health both above and below the belt. And the humble beet contains nitric oxide, which serves as a vasodilator that opens up blood vessels to erogenous zones.
2. Dark green veggies
Spinach, kale, swiss chard, broccoli and green beans are packed with iron. One out of four female patients in our nutrition practice presents with iron deficiency or anaemia. These women are exhausted and can barely make it through the day, let alone think about feeling sexy. Iron is also a key nutrient in keeping our neurotransmitters happy – which we’ve already established is vital for your overall wellbeing and in turn, your sexual health.
While it can be a bit pricey, seafood provides quality protein and essential nutrients. Fish, clams, seaweeds and shellfish contain iodine, which is an important nutrient in thyroid function, but is low in the Australian food supply. Iodine and selenium are also the most important nutrients in the production of the thyroid hormone T4, and hypothyroidism is on the rise. This is when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, which leads to extreme fatigue, brain fog and impaired sexual function in both arousal and satisfaction.
4. Allicin foods
Garlic and its cousins – onions, leeks and shallots – aren’t known for freshening the breath, but they do help your blood flow. Allicin is a bioactive compound helpful in heart and coronary disease, which can affect the arteries that supply blood flow to the pelvic area. Restrictive blood flow to this area for both men and women can reduce your chance for arousal or orgasm. Tip: Consume garlic well before intimacy!
5. Pumpkin seeds
Zinc is the Chris Hemsworth of the nutrient world: strong, powerful and dead sexy. Everyone thinks oysters are the only answer to improving zinc (and libido) levels, but zinc-rich pumpkin seeds are readily available, easy to crunch and don’t polarise people the way oysters do. Whether you choose crunchy seeds or slippery shells, zinc consumption is vital to the health of both women and men – especially when it comes to the testes, testosterone and erectile dysfunction.
In the name of love, just eat real food – unpackaged, unprocessed, no added sugar and full of nutrients that improve, well, just about everything, including your libido.