Erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence is when a male finds it difficult to have or maintain an erection during sex. Trouble getting or keeping an erection can affect your self-confidence and contribute to relationship problems.
Erectile dysfunction may also be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs treatment. Male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Causes of ED can be either physical or psychological or both.
Heart disease, clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis), hypertension, diabetes, obesity, tobacco use, alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse, sleep disorders, multiple sclerosis are some of the health conditions that can increase the risk for ED. Stress, anxiety, and depression can also cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Depending on the cause, treatment of ED may include medications such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, testosterone replacement therapy, surgery to place an implant or remove a blood vessel blockage and counseling. However, dietary changes and healthy lifestyle habits may also help.
Diet and Erectile Dysfunction
Eating a varied and nutritious diet can help reduce the risk of developing obesity and cardiovascular disease, which have been linked to ED. There are many studies supporting the link between ED and diet. For example, a review published in 2018 revealed that ED is less common among those who follow a Mediterranean diet.
In general, the Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy eating approach consisting of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It emphasizes reducing the intake of meat and dairy foods.
Foods high in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant found in cocoa and dark chocolate, fruits and vegetables, nuts and grains, tea and wine, may help reduce the risk of ED. One study found that men who consumed 50 milligrams (mg) or more of flavonoids per day were 32% less likely to report ED.
According to researchers, flavonoids improve blood flow and supply of nitric oxide in the blood, both of which are essential for getting and maintaining an erection.
In another study, eating 100 grams of pistachios per day for 3 weeks led to an overall improvement in the scores for erectile function, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Pistachios are rich in proteins, fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats, which can boost cardiovascular health and nitric oxide production.
Alcohol and Tobacco
Several studies have linked alcohol dependence to a higher risk of ED. A study published in 2010 found that men who consumed three or more drinks a week and smoked tobacco were more likely to have ED than those who drank less.
Chronic heavy use of alcohol can also put men at higher risk of suffering from other sexual problems including premature ejaculation, and loss of sexual desire.
According to experts, long-term alcohol abuse can cause dehydration, which can decrease blood volume and increased angiotensin, a hormone associated with erectile dysfunction. Alcohol dependence can also cause damage to the nervous system and the nerves in the penis.
Researchers say smoking can damage the vascular system, which affects the blood supply to the penis.
This means limiting or avoiding alcohol use and quitting smoking can help prevent or manage ED.
(SOURCE: The Health Site)