Published February 04, 2008
Turning yourself on with some tongue action is nothing new. But can what you put in your mouth truly affect your sex life?
For centuries, humans have been fascinated by supposed links between certain substances and one’s sex drive, sexual performance and sexual desire. Yet only recently we’ve really been able to confirm what actually works and why.
While there’s no magical meal plan for easily enhancing sexual pleasure or attaining orgasm, you definitely can impact your sexual energy by incorporating certain ingredients into your diet. So here are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to what to put in your mouth.
I’m a big fan of fish oil. This isn’t simply because I’m Icelandic. I take two tablets every morning because there are so many health benefits. So I was delighted when I learned that animal and human studies show that fish oil raises dopamine levels in the brain.
Why should you care about dopamine?
This hormone not only is good for one’s cardio health and in combating depression — factors that can affect one’s sexual gusto — but this neurotransmitter triggers lust. Dopamine can stimulate the release of testosterone, your hormone of sexual desire, as well as focus your attention and motivate you, quite possibly with none other than your love!
So in planning your three meals of the day, shoot for foods that contain the active, effective ingredient in fish oil — the omega-3 fatty acid. Sure, you can, like me, pop a tablet or two of fish oil daily, but it’s much more fun to serve up something tastier, like salmon or tuna, which I also eat weekly.
(Note: You want to avoid fried fish since often it is cooked in oils high in omega-6 fatty acids, which cancels out the effect you want).
Not much of a fish fan? Other foods, with saturated and monounsaturated fats, that can raise dopamine levels to some degree include shellfish, poultry, wild game, free-range beef, snails, avocado and dairy.
These foods also are great because the fats they contain increase total testosterone, boosting libido and the ability to reach orgasm. Still, the easiest, cheapest and safest way to consume large amounts of EPA and DHA — the two omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil helping your game — is to pop a tablet or two of fish oil daily.**
As not to kill your healthy eating efforts, make sure to avoid cooking your foods with trans fats and polyunsaturated fats, including vegetable oils such as soybean, safflower and corn. Instead, use monounsaturated fats including canola or olive oil when cooking.
Side dishes are the perfect way to get the vitamins and minerals you need to be a sex machine. Vitamins are a must since those with low sexual libido generally suffer from a nutritional deficiency.
Iron deficiencies, for example, can play into an individual’s sex life, affecting the energy needed for lovemaking. This issue can be nipped in the bud with some of my favorites — basil or arugula. Just be sure to avoid side dishes that can act as a depressant on your system, particularly starchy carbohydrates such as white breads and potatoes.
Now, when cooking up any of the aforementioned main courses and side dishes, be sure to flavor them with a couple of wonderful key ingredients:
Garlic — With its "heat" said to stir sexual desire, garlic releases allicin when chopped or otherwise "damaged," increasing blood flow to the sexual organs when consumed.
Chilies or black pepper — Basically, anything spicy can invite physiological responses that mimic human sexual response, e.g., raised heart rate. They can make you feel aroused, even if that’s more of an illusion than anything.
(Foods rich in zinc are particularly good for men. Pumpkin seeds and oysters are ideal for very sexually active men. High in zinc, these foods are crucial to men’s health, helping them to replenish that loss through frequent ejaculation.)
While sugary treats, like honey, can give you a quick, short-lived energy boost, the best dessert you can serve yourself or your love is that of dark chocolate.
Marrena Lindberg, author of "The Orgasmic Diet," recommends up to half an ounce of high-quality dark chocolate per day, since its chemical compounds increase dopamine levels. I’ve read elsewhere that other forms of chocolate also can give your love life a wee bit of a boost since this romantic sweet contains three substances that flood our brain with chemicals, making us feel happy when we eat it.
The theobromine in chocolate boosts endorphin production, giving your body a high. Its two other compounds — anandamide and phenylethylamine (PEA) — may further have sex-enhancing effects, though research has yet to prove this.
A study out of Italy’s University of Vita-Salute San Raffaelle found, however, there was no difference in sexual arousal or satisfaction between women who consumed chocolate daily than those who did not nibble on the sweet.
Not being much of a dark chocolate fan myself, I totally understand the need for other desserts from which to choose. Figs are scrumptious, sweet and particularly good for women in that they are a good source of iron, magnesium and zinc.
Juicy and sensual peaches are packed with vitamin C. Pistachio nuts also are good for you since they contain the amino acid arginine, which has been shown to improve sexual function in men and women by improving genital circulation.
Just make sure to stay away from sugary and starchy carbohydrates and desserts with trans or hydrogenated fats, e.g., margarine and vegetable shortening.
Hands down, the best thing you can do for yourself when it comes to what you drink is to stay hydrated with water and to drink natural beverages rich in vitamins, such as orange juice or V8. I suck down a yummy organic and probiotic Synergy drink daily for its restoring effect and nutrients (plus, I love its fizzy, tart flavors). Yet, there are other beverages humans have been known to dabble with when it comes to sexual arousal.
Whether it’s coffee, tea, colas or cocoa, people have reached for drinks containing caffeine for their stimulating and antidepressant effects, yet some warn it’s better to stay away from such beverages.
Their argument: Caffeine acts on one’s brain serotonin levels like a trampoline, causing sharp spikes in this neurotransmitter, which offset the sexual impact of dopamine.
Still, research has found caffeine can be a bit of an aphrodisiac. A University of Michigan survey of more than 700 couples aged 60 and older found that those who drank their java daily were likelier to describe themselves sexually active (62 percent) versus those who did not (38 percent). It is believed that caffeine’s antidepressant effect may lend to its sex-stimulating effect.
So when it comes to your "sex diet," make sure you’re being mindful about what you’re consuming. Keep foods in moderation and balanced. More than anything, experiment in finding out what works for you, since our nutritional needs are individual. Further, work with your lover in exploring the different foods and drinks that can impact both of you in your quest for better health and sex.
** If you’re on a medication that interacts negatively with aspirin, consult your physician before consuming fish oil supplements. Both fish oil and aspirin are anti-inflammatory substances that thin the blood.
In-the-Know Sex News…
— Condom-push at Carnival. Health officials in Brazil have announced they will distribute 19.5 million condoms during the country’s five-day Carnival. It is hoped the effort will reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Not everyone is thrilled with the government practicing prevention, however. Church officials are opposed to such condom distribution, fearing it will "encourage orgiastic behaviors." About 600,000 Brazilians are living with HIV/AIDS.
— Newly homeless at higher risk. A study out of the new UCLA AIDS Institute finds that homeless youth who have been away from home for up to six months are likelier to engage in risky sexual behavior if residing in non-family settings, such as abandoned buildings, the streets or a friend’s home.
Males who were tracked were likelier to have multiple sex partners if they lived in settings without relatives and abused drugs. Drug abuse was the primary predictor for risky sexual behavior for females. Such behaviors are being linked to a lack of social support and supervision.
Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."