For perhaps all of history, the pleasures that we derive from both food and sex have been intertwined. There’s always been a sort of magic regarding how the two pleasures interact. Perhaps some of this connection is a result of our cultural traditions and the placebo effect, but there is more and more evidence that many foods honestly and truly have a physiological effect upon the body which affects sexual drive or performance.
Many foods have been linked to increased libido and sexual ability, but there are also many foods that have a suppressive effect on these desires, and the foods that you eat could actually be a significant factor in your lack of desire for sex and intimacy.
What Controls Sex Drive?
There are a lot of different influences which impact our libido and our desire for intimate contact, as well as our ability to perform in the bedroom. Many of these influences are psychological or interpersonal, but our hormone balance and function also plays a vital role and is the physiological spark that activates our desire.
The most critical hormone about sexual desire and libido is Testosterone. This is actually true of both sexes, men and women. Women don’t produce as much of the hormone as men, but they still need the hormone to generate sexual desire and readiness. If your body isn’t producing enough Testosterone, this is going to impact your libido directly.
This is actually the scientific basis which still supports the age-old concept of the aphrodisiac, although evidence is unclear regarding which foods genuinely have this ability, or to what extent the influence of these foods has on libido. The concept of aphrodisiacs is simple—some foods, when consumed, can increase your desire for passion and romance.
Some Foods have Both Testosterone Promoting and Inhibiting Properties
Of course, many foods represent a double-edged sword about sex drive. For example, chocolate is widely considered to be an aphrodisiac which promotes intimacy and romance. The chemical hypothesis for this connection is that chocolate contains an ingredient known as phenethylamine, which, like oxytocin, is physiologically correlated with the feeling of love. On the other hand, Chocolate also has a suppressive effect on Testosterone when enjoyed to excess, which very obviously can reduce desire and libido.
There are a lot of foods that can mess with your body’s ability to produce Testosterone, including chocolate, processed carbohydrates, yogurt, cheese, and alcohol. All of these food promotes the activity of an enzyme known as aromatase, which can take the Testosterone in your bloodstream and convert it into Estrogen. This is bad for your libido and, for men, bad for the heart. The male body needs some Estrogen, but if it has too much, it can significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes, in addition to hindering sexual performance and desire.
Of course, if your libido is healthy and you enjoy a sensible diet, there’s no shame in enjoying these indulgences, but if you lean on these foods too much, you’ll likely start to feel these changes both in your gut and in the bedroom.
A good rule of thumb, if you are looking to encourage a healthier sex drive through diet, is only to eat foods that can suppress your sex drive no more than five times weekly. This will help defeat the activity of aromatase in the body and potentially increase your sex drive. Although these same tips can help women, men appear to be much more prone to changes in libido directly associated with food and drink.
The following are eleven foods that scientific research suggests can potentially sink your sex drive:
Cheese and Testosterone
Cheese is a mixed bag when it comes to Testosterone. There is evidence that certain cheeses, especially hard cheeses, can promote the production of Testosterone via healthy fat, as well as a protein known as lysine. On the other hand, if you eat cheese that comes from animals which have been heavily treated with hormones to maximize dairy production, you could be consuming byproducts of those hormone products which could suppress your production of Testosterone in favor of Estrogen. The best way to get the most out of your cheese is to source your cheese from animals which have not been treated with synthetic hormones.
Mint and Testosterone
There is clinical evidence that mint can alter Testosterone production. For example, research has shown that eating peppermint or smoking menthol cigarettes both suppress the level of Free Testosterone in the bloodstream. Your Free Testosterone Levels are a direct indicator of the level of the hormone available for use by the body and is the most potent sign of Testosterone Deficiency.
Simple Carbohydrates and Testosterone
Simple carbohydrates are carbohydrate products like white bread and white rice which have been processed to the point at which their nutritional content and structural complexity has been significantly broken down. This means that, when you eat simple carbs, your body has to do little to no work to break the energy inside, which leads to significant fluctuations in blood sugar that can significantly impact the balance of Testosterone, Human Growth Hormone, and Insulin. The end result is that you put on the pounds, lose your energy, and lose your interest in sex, in addition to increasing your risk of diabetes.
Coffee and Sex Drive
Coffee is another example of something that can both promote and inhibit healthy sexual activity. For instance, if you are feeling a bit tired and worn out, a cup of coffee can perk you up an increase in your energy for healthy sex. On the other hand, if you drink too much Coffee or drink it too often, you can experience issues related to anxiety or even adrenal fatigue, which saps your body’s capacity to produce Testosterone in exchange for the production of Cortisol. People with caffeine sensitivity are most at risk of experiencing loss of libido from caffeine consumption.
Chocolate and Sex Drive
Chocolate can be a useful tool to increase sex drive, but depending on how you fulfill your cravings you could actually be doing yourself a disservice. The consumption of dark chocolate has been linked to improved Testosterone Levels and libido, but most Americans eat milk chocolate, which is heavily laced with simple sugars and milk which can suppress the benefits of the chocolate, and if you overeat, can contribute to weight gain and reduced Testosterone concentrations in the bloodstream.
Popcorn can be a fantastic snack, but to get the most out of the food with the fewest drawbacks you should cook your popcorn on the stove in a bit of heart-healthy oil, or, better yet, air pop your popcorn. Microwaved popcorn can have a negative impact on both your Testosterone Levels and your libido because the inside of the bag is covered with a chemical liner known as perfluorooctanoic acid, which is a Phthalate compound which has been scientifically proven to inhibit Testosterone Levels. This chemical can leach into the popcorn itself in low concentrations, and the more you are exposed to these compounds, the more you put your hormone health, as well as your prostate health, at risk.
Diet Soda and Libido
Many men and women use diet drinks as a means to cut the calories that they consume each day. With the amount of soda that the average American consumes each day, it’s clear that many people can lose weight with the help of these diet drinks, even when taking into account the fact that diet drinks make many people prone to overeating. The problem with diet drinks concerning libido is that they can actually have an impact on psychological balance, especially if you drink a whole lot of it. In particular, aspartame and its close relatives interact with your body’s production and metabolism of serotonin, a hormone which promotes feelings of happiness and wards off anxiety and depression.
Licorice and Libido
Licorice isn’t bad in moderation, but if you are a big fan of the candy, or you are having issues with libido or Testosterone Levels, you should limit your consumption of this guilty pleasure. Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, an enzyme which suppresses Testosterone Concentrations in the bloodstream, which can inhibit your sex drive. One study even showed that eating licorice for four straight days could drop Testosterone production by as much as forty percent! It appears that the impact of glycyrrhizin on Testosterone is mainly dependent upon individual sensitivities, however.
Soy and Libido
This news is starting to become more widespread, but soy has powerful aromatizing effects, and can directly convert Testosterone into Estrogen. Many men report that going vegan, and relying on soy for protein, significantly reduced their desire for sex, to the point where they stopped using soy altogether. On top of that, research has shown that too much soy can affect Testosterone Levels so significantly that it can lead to temporary erectile dysfunction!
Hydrogenated Fats, Trans-Fats, and Libido
The body uses fat and cholesterol to produce Testosterone, but the critical type of fat that the body needs for this process is Saturated Fat. Both Hydrogenated fats and Trans-Fats have the opposite effect and can drain libido and sex drive. Trans-Fats do not occur in nature and are the result of significant chemical processing. If you are interested in boosting your sex drive, go for saturated, heart-healthy fats. This is good for your heart and cardiovascular system as well, as long as you don’t overdo it!
Alcohol and Libido
It’s true that alcohol does encourage sexual activity in many ways. In lowers inhibition and makes it easier to relax. The temporary suppression of serotonin also promotes the expression of sexual desire. In the end, though, Alcohol is another compound which promotes the conversion of Testosterone into Estrogen, and men that drink too much have issues with Erectile Dysfunction and lack of libido which limit their ability to engage in healthy sexual activity. Frequent use of alcohol can also exacerbate depression, which is partially the result of inhibited Serotonin activity.
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