I'm hoping this is my most read blog of the year. Come on, it's a sexy topic, most nutrition professionals wouldn't talk about, or perhaps even research.
Hormone imbalances, low thyroid function and autoimmune conditions provide daily reminders of illness and fatigue. These conditions can influence all aspects of our life both work and play, fun and LOVIN’. Many are too embarrassed to talk about certain life matters like poop and sex. I am not. And today I’d like to talk about hormones, libido and some foods you can incorporate into every day to boost the health of your sexual organs.
In high states of inflammation adrenal glands release more cortisol (the stress hormone) in an attempt to reduce this inflammation. Adrenals also play a major role in synthesis of DHEA, aldosterone, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. All of these hormones depend on a common precursor, pregnenolone. The problem is when cortisol is increased, pregnenolone decreases. This results in a hormonal shift that has a cascade of results. For women, high cortisol production can lower progesterone production. Low progesterone causes an estrogen dominance. This cascade continues, high estrogen can lead to decreased amounts of thyroid hormone. This can cause fatigue, aches and pains, lower mental acuity and low libido.
It sounds so dismal right? With high inflammation, high stress, hormone dysfunction, low energy, then a low sex drive. You might even call it a vicious cycle. It’s actually quite incredible. If you have high inflammation or stress levels that are chronic, maybe it isn’t a great time to get pregnant. This is just your bodies natural way to defend you from a situation which will be taxing to an already compromised body system.
What to do? Try to lower stress and feed your adrenals.
How to lower stress? Sleep more, go for a walk, breathe, sweat, take some yoga, start saying "no" rather than going to every party and friend outing, PRAY.
How to feed the adrenals? Adequate vitamin c, B vitamins, and magnesium daily. Vitamin c is often easy to get with some oranges or tomatoes. Magnesium isn’t too rich in our western diet and may require supplementation. A quality B complex also may be necessary to assist your body and help energy levels.
Food first is a major part of my nutrition philosophy. It takes a level of determination to feed your body for optimal health. Isn't it worth it? When we are talking hormone balance, libido, and sex organs it is crucial that your body has good circulation, so nutrients can make it to these cells and organs. It is also important for long term health to have a healthy amount of antioxidants in the diet to fight exposure to free radicals and help prevent oxidative stress and cancer in these organs. Many of the foods that help with circulation listed below help support healthy blood supply to the sex organs, but some have also been shown to support optimal hormone balance and even increase sexual desire. So let's get down to it....
Foods To Help Circulation, Nutrient Distribution, Hormone Balance, And Libido
Pumpkin Seeds- Zinc is essential for hormone production for men and women. Zinc intake is associated with higher sex drive in both men and women. It is also helpful in quality and quantity of sperm production (if you are working on fertility factors). Pumpkin seeds are a great natural source of zinc. I like to grind them and add to oatmeal, smoothies or homemade granola.
Maca- This is a root found in South America. It is difficult to source in America as a food, however it is easy to find in supplemental form. It is known for enhancing sexual desire in both males and females. It has been known to improve sperm motility, improve erectile dysfunction and balance hormones. It is a supplement to start small with and work up to 2-3 grams per day. If you are interested in this supplement shoot me an email I am happy to share where I recommend sourcing it from.
Dark Chocolate – Bioflavonoids that are found in dark chocolate help keep blood vessels healthy and allow for optimal blood flow to your sexual organs. This blood flow is essential for arousal, lubrication, and achieving orgasm. Dark chocolate (more than 70% cacao) also boosts dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain found in pathways of motivation and pleasure.
Garlic – I know this one doesn’t seem intuitive or synonymous with romance, but an active compound found in garlic, allicin, has been shown to improve circulation by thinning the blood. This aids in tissue receiving nutrients and can increase physical sensation. Perhaps both partners will have to agree on a garlic filled meal, we wouldn’t want intake of garlic for these purposes to be counter-productive.
Celery- This vegetable contains a compound called androsterone that helps your body produce pheromones. You know what those do.
Pineapple- This delicious fruit contains bromelain which is an important enzyme for men increasing testosterone and libido. It also has the added benefit of decreasing inflammation in the body.
Ginger – This herb boosts circulation and thus, sexual sensation. Add some ginger to that cocktail this weekend.
Lentils and Nuts – All contain arginine, which can help boost female libido through the dilation of blood vessels near female organs.
Spinach – High in folate, which helps produce histamine, a compound released from mast cells during sexual arousal.
There is much that may also play a role in low sexual drive that may not have to do with hormones,eating or your physical health. Emotional health and relationship issues and even trauma can play a role in these symptoms. Remember to be patient and understanding with your partner and if you feel this is a persistent problem seek help from a qualified family counselor.
Caitlin Johnson is a dietitian, wife, lover of ice cream, chef wannabe, California-girl, Christian, liver eating, "food-avore."
218 W. Carmen Lane, Suite 108
Santa Maria, California 93458
Hours: Mon, Thurs, Fri 9-5 PST