It has long been a truism that you are what you eat. Just as poor food choices can negatively impact your sex life and your health, making some simple changes to your diet can significantly improve these areas of your life.
A diet low in saturated fat and high in fiber is effective in both helping men maintain their virility and acting as a deterrent to the development and progress of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and prostate cancer.
A great sex life depends on clean arteries; you don't want to gum up the works by ingesting saturated fats and bad cholesterol. If you have ever made love when you felt bloated or constipated, you know how much better you function when your digestive system is not overtaxed.
Do not overeat; make sure you consume plenty of fiber. Wining and dining can be romantic, but too much dining will leave you sluggish, heavy, and tired, which will certainly put a damper on your sex life with your wife—and may have larger consequences for your overall health.
Let's face it—it is a lot easier to operate smoothly and vigorously in bed if you are not carrying a 20-pound belt of blubber around your waist. Maintaining a healthy body weight encourages self-confidence and promotes a healthy and positive outlook on life.
Excess fat, especially the fat around your torso, has also been associated with an increased risk of many diseases. Body fat acts almost like an individual organ, secreting hormones and a specialized protein that can increase inflammation and oxidation in the cells of your body. These natural processes, if they go unchecked, can break down normal tissue and weaken your body's defenses against cancer and other diseases, which is why incorporating antioxidants and anti-inflammatory elements in your diet can also be beneficial.
Many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances can be found in fruits and vegetables of color (such as deep red tomatoes, dark green spinach, and rich orange carrots), as well as in whole grains (whole wheat, quinoa, brown rice) and spices. By focusing your diet on fresh fruits and vegetables, ocean-caught fish (a great source of unsaturated fat), and whole grains—rather than processed foods that rely on sugar, salt, and fat for flavor—you can increase the protective anti-inflammatory components of your diet and begin to benefit from their effects.
Tomato-based pastas, soups, and juices can increase levels of the beneficial antioxidant lycopene. Pomegranate juice and green and black tea can increase levels of antioxidants containing polyphenols.
Vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, bok choy, wasabi mustard, and horseradish all contain substances that may increase levels of protective proteins in your liver and body tissues, while vitamins, minerals, extracts of fruits and vegetables, herbs, and spices can all act against both oxidation and inflammation.
New research is beginning to suggest that the more simple sugars you eat, the higher your circulating insulin levels will be, and there seems a direct link between high insulin levels and the increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and prostate cancer growth. Also, evidence is mounting that the intake of carcinogens present in charred red meat triggers can increase your risk of cancer. Substituting fresh fruits in place of sugary desserts and trading your flame-broiled burger for healthful protein sources such as beans or soy can help avoid these conditions.
Focusing on a diet rich in fiber and antioxidants and low in pro-inflammatory and carcinogenic substances, simple sugars, and saturated fats—coupled with a regular exercise program—can improve the overall health—including the sexual health—of every man.
Dudley Seth Danoff, MD, FACS, is president and founder of the Cedars-Sinai Tower Urology Group in Los Angeles, a Diplomate of the American Board of Urology, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and the author of two books on men's health.