Chocolate covered strawberries to get you in the mood? Ever reached for oysters and champagne to spice up your love life? Aphrodisiacs are a LOVE-ly idea, yet no one food has been shown to directly stimulate our ehm.. love areas.
After giving a talk last week for Sweaty Betty and Silver Linings Retreat on ‘Eating for Love’, I wanted to share my top thoughts on eating for your libido, discussing aphrodisiacs and how we can incorporate certain foods to perhaps help spark our sexual appetite.
Foods considered aphrodisiacs are those that stimulate the senses: sight, smell, taste, and touch. No specific food has been scientifically proven to stimulate the sex organs themselves, but certain foods and the act of eating can suggest sex or trigger sexual desire in the mind. This, in turn, can help rouse desire in the body.
Those foods that contain compounds that are essential to sex-hormone production/release are considered aphrodisiacs. And those that contain nutrients that get our blood circulation flowing or boost our physical endurance, can all be classified as modern-day “aphrodisiacs”.
For example, oysters are considered aphrodisiacs because they contain high amounts of Zinc (one of the highest food sources out there), a mineral that is fundamental for testosterone and sperm production. Zinc also helps with the release of dopamine, our pleasure neurotransmitter, which stimulates the arousal part located in our brains, the nucleus accumbens. This area of the brain, when stimulated, governs our reward system. The combination of these two factors has gained oysters aphrodisiac recognition.
Chocolate promotes the release of phenylethylamine and serotonin in our bodies. Phenylethylamine is a nervous system stimulant that provokes excitement and serotonin, ‘the happy hormone’, boosts your mood and energy. Excitement, mood and energy = a better chance for your libido to perform! Chocolate also contains caffeine which might trigger a sensory response.
“What’s the impact of diet on libido overall?”
The libido is governed primarily by dopamine as well as other neurotransmitters and sex hormones such as
and estrogen. Having a low nutrient diet can affect not only their health but also the creation and impact of these key libido factors.
A well-balanced diet should ensure you are getting the correct nutrients and macronutrients to support these essential components that fuel your libido.
If you are not fuelling your body correctly, you may be over or underweight, fatigued, feeling down or unwell which will, in turn, make you feel less turned on!
To name a few key macro and micronutrients:
- Fats affect nerve transmission and Omega-3 fatty acids encourage the production of more sex hormones.
- Minerals help get your blood moving through the body and support the health of your organs.
- B vitamins are vital for your energy and mood, which consequently impacts your libido
- Vitamin D is key for hormone creation, immunity and mood
“Are there long term lifestyle changes that can boost libido over a lifetime?”
De-stress before sex. When we are stressed our bodies pump out the hormones cortisol aka the ‘stress hormone’ and the male sex hormone testosterone, which directly impacts our libidos. In the long run, this imbalance in cortisol and testosterone can suppress the libido.
Exercise. Not only can exercise help reduce stress which will help your libido, but it will also boost body awareness and confidence. When we exercise testosterone increases (for both men and women) which can boost sexual excitement for both sexes. Endorphins and adrenalin released during exercise create that pleasure and wellbeing feeling often referred to as a runner’s high – this release has been shown to increase sexual arousal.
However, caution, as too much exercise has the opposite effect and can actually reduce someone’s libidos by depleting their sex hormones.
“Are there also short term fixes that can fire up libido?”
Meditation and mindfulness – the biggest sex organ is found right between your ears. Practising mindfulness or meditation can help reduce anxiety, stress and concerns from our days, leaving the mind to focus on being in the present moment and to fully commit to enjoying pleasures.
“What are your go-to foods for a libido boost and why?”
Maca powder has been used for centuries by Peruvian culture for its ability to increase stamina, energy, fertility and libido. Although, a note, the science is unsure of the mechanisms as to why it works! It is best thrown into smoothies or sprinkled onto cereal for a malty sweet taste.
Chilli – the compound capsaicin found in chilli promotes the release of chemicals that have been proven to trigger physiological responses such as an increased heart rate and sweating which are similar responses to those experienced during sexual intercourse. Capsaicin also sparks the release of endorphins which give you a natural high and consequently help you feel more sexual.
Figs are fleshy, sweet and intricate to eat, which is why they are often compared to the female sexual organ. Figs are rich in magnesium, a fundamental nutrient needed for the production of sex hormones androgen and estrogen that contribute to your libido. They also contain amino acids that increase production in nitric oxide, a key factor in the vasodilation of your blood vessels which in other words allows blood to flow quickly to the nether regions!
If you are interested in collaborating on a workshop or want to discuss how to balance your sex hormones with a Nutritionist, please get in touch with me here