The Dysfunction Diet: Foods Are a Factor of ED

April 11, 2019

Foods and Erectile Dysfunction: You Are What You Eat

Doctor’s might do it all, but you can do more. There are things you can do to improve and help prevent erectile dysfunction outside of the doctor’s office. You might not want to hear it—but it’s your diet.

Approximately 30 million men in the U.S. (of all ages!) are affected by erectile dysfunction (ED). And while it can be a complex diagnosis with a myriad of different health and psychosocial components to consider, one thing that’s easy to assess is food. Sometimes consulting with our Austin nutritionist can take away the need for pills or other ED treatments altogether.

Can erectile dysfunction be caused by foods? What foods can improve erectile dysfunction? The “you are what you eat” saying actually does play a role here.

What to eat to help with ED

While there is no miracle food that will totally prevent or treat ED, there are nutrients in certain foods that can help. Since ED is often related to vascular health, poor blood flow can cause it. So let’s make your anti-ED grocery shopping list:

Leafy green vegetables (celery, spinach, kale) These veggies are PACKED with nitrates, which open up blood vessels and increase blood flow.

Beet juice Gross? Yes. Also packed full of blood-flow-increasing nitrates? Yes. Better look up a weird beet juice Bloody Mary recipe and get on it.

Dark chocolate To get the beet juice taste out of your mouth. Dark chocolate has flavonoids, which have been proven to increase circulation AND may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, both of which are contributors to ED.

Pistachios They have a protein called arginine, which can help relax blood vessels, improving circulation.

Oysters and shellfish (wild) Oysters have high levels of zinc, which plays a role in the production of testosterone. Low levels of testosterone often cause ED, so it’s time to learn some seafood recipes.

Watermelon Watermelon is rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants—which relax the blood vessels—again improving blood flow.

Tomatoes Lycopene, found in deep red fruits, has similar benefits to watermelon. Lycopene is absorbed best when mixed with oily foods like avocados and olive oil. Maybe some bruschetta can be added to the table.

Pink grapefruit Pink grapefruit is another heavy hitter in the deep red food department that is packed full of lycopene.

Walnuts Walnuts have lots of arginine, an amino acid your body uses to make nitric oxide, which helps with blood flow. They are high in calories though, so watch your intake.

Coffee Well, actually, it’s the caffeine. Caffeine can increase blood flow. So if you like tea, sugar-free energy drinks, or coffee (not frappes, coffee) to get your daily caffeine fix, add them to your list.

Alcohol What? In moderate amounts (<36grams a day). One beer, a small glass of wine, or a sip of liquor can actually decrease your cardiovascular risk, which also means preventing poor blood flow, a cause of ED.

Garlic Spice up your foods using garlic instead of butter and salt. Garlic can help keep blood vessels clear by reducing plaque formation. Clearer blood vessels means better blood flow and less risk of ED.

Pomegranate juice or grape juice If beet juice isn’t your thing, pomegranate or Concord grape juice may be a good substitute. Both are high in nitrates, which open up blood vessels, increasing blood flow. Just make sure you’re buying the juice, not a juice cocktail. Ingredient lists are your friends.

Peppers Chilis, cayenne, habaneros, jalapeños, and more. Peppers can relax blood vessels and promote better blood flow.

Olive oil Olive oil can help with testosterone production. Plus, it’s full of monosaturated fat, which helps reduce the bad cholesterol that can clog up your blood vessels and cause poor blood flow.

Salmon and other fish (wild) Try salmon, fresh albacore tuna, mackerel, or sardines. All of these are heart-healthy and full of omega 3 fatty acids, which means more nitrates and better blood flow.

Exercise and heart-healthy diets (such as the Mediterranean diet) have been proven to be one of the healthiest and well-rounded diets out there to promote long term health benefits without having to sacrifice entire food groups. And because it’s not terribly limiting, it can be adopted as a lifestyle change versus a fad diet.

At the end of the day, sorry to say it, there’s no magic food. It’s more about eating healthy (including portion control) and maintaining a healthy weight. This lifestyle adjustment can keep you feeling and performing your best, and keep you out of testosterone therapy, testosterone clinics, and anti-aging centers.

Now, alternatively, let’s outline foods to avoid.

Some of these are no-brainers, but some may surprise you! These are foods that will likely worsen or potentially cause ED down the road. Many of these foods are bad for your heart and blood vessels, causing plaque to build, destroying blood flow and therefore causing ED.

Additionally, they are calorie dense, so you’ll pack on the pounds. Being overweight or obese is a known risk factor for so many health issues, like high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, poor blood flow, and drops in testosterone. The link between low testosterone and ED is well established. If you want to avoid erectile dysfunction and needing to visit low T centers, skip the drive through and leave these foods on the shelves at the grocery store:

Soy Researchers found that men who had 120 mg of soy a day saw a decrease in testosterone (and an increase in estrogen).

Flaxseed Another estrogen-raising, testosterone-dropping culprit.

Non-grass-fed beef Farmed meat is often filled with artificial hormones and antibiotics, which can cause a disruption in testosterone levels.
Bottled water (plastic). Water is great; it’s the plastic bottle that researchers have found may be the culprit in lower testosterone levels. Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, is a chemical component found in most plastic food containers and cans that’s associated with negative impacts on testosterone production.

Farmed fish Farmed. Not wild. It’s been found that farmed products contain up to eight times more PCBs, dioxins, and herbicides (cancer-causing industrial chemicals) that can not only cause cancer, but also lower testosterone. Still eat your fish, just go for the wild variety versus farmed.

Microwaveable popcorn It’s not the popcorn, but the lining of the bag that contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), or C8. High levels of PFOA exposure have been linked to lower testosterone levels.

Canned soup and other canned products High sodium is rough on your blood vessels and will decrease blood flow. Watch your levels of sodium/salt in your diet to help prevent ED.

Processed foods, including meats Typically, processed foods of any kind are high in bad fats and calories. Eating them is a great way to develop plaque on the walls of the blood vessels and pack on the pounds.

Processed sugar/corn syrup/fructose Sodas, cookies, cakes, high intake of white bread or white rice. Sugar will take a toll on your body.

Fatty foods/saturated fat Wave goodbye to the greasy cheeseburgers, takeout pizza, full fat milks, creamers, cheese, dairy, and drive thru windows. Fatty foods are high in saturated fat, causing weight gain and worsening cholesterol. Stay away!

Alcohol in excess Binge drinking can definitely affect your erections temporarily, but frequent nights at the bar with more than a few drinks a night can wreak havoc on your blood vessels, reducing blood flow. Controlled, moderate drinking is actually beneficial; it’s the hard partying that will cause ED.

If you’re interested in more ways to help treat ED, consider giving us a call. Until then, our resources are at your disposal.