Healthy intimacy is necessary for healthy relationships and with Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s time to talk about your sex drive and you.
A theme that comes up time and time again in my clinic is the issue of low or no sex drive. It seems to be an epidemic and one that brings about a great deal of anxiety as Valentine’s Day fast approaches. People feel like they should be physically intimate with that special someone in their lives, but they just aren’t feeling it, regardless of relationship status.
Sex is still a slightly taboo subject across the globe, but it’s about time we talked about it, as it’s vital for our wellbeing. Indications of a low sex drive can indicate deeper hormonal imbalances, and it’s something that needs to be addressed in the healing process.
Hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances underlying low sex drive can include low testosterone (in both women as well as men), low thyroid, low dopamine and prolactin, and oestrogen imbalance. In addition, cardiovascular issues, high stress, birth control pills, medications, and sleep apnea can all negatively affect sex drive, and medical issues should be investigated if necessary.
In terms of diet, there’s a lot that can be done to increase libido significantly, and adaptogenic herbs have become a new trend, taking the sex drive by storm.
What you need to include in your meal plan
Especially for women, low levels of iron can negatively impact arousal, lubrication, libido, and the ability to orgasm. Including lots of leafy greens, and dark chocolate into the diet can boost these levels. Making sure you eat them with vitamin C-rich foods can further enhance the mineral’s absorption.
While known for being a natural immune booster, vitamin C has been linked to enhanced female libido and improved circulation around the body. As well as broccoli and oranges, Camu Camu is one of the highest vitamin C rich plants on the planet and can be a great supplement to add into the diet.
Chocolate had to be included on the list for Valentine’s Day! Chocolate is known for its powerful aphrodisiac qualities, due to the release of serotonin (the happy hormone) and phenylethylamine in the body. Always opt for dark, low sugar chocolate (I always choose 99% or 100%), packing in those nutrients for a mouth and body experience!
Cordyceps (Cordyceps Sinensis)
Cordyceps is a mushroom that was traditionally grown in China on the bodies of caterpillars (!). Luckily, it can now be cultured in a lab, so is totally vegan and caterpillar-free! In herbalism, Cordyceps is said to be a life-reinforcing mushroom, building sexual and physical power and is known as one of nature’s adaptogenic aphrodisiacs.
Ho Shou Wu (pronounced huh show woo)
This is one of the most popular and well-known ingredients in Asian herbalism. It is the root of the plant Polygonum multiflorum, which grows in the mountains of central and southern China. Translated, it literally means “(Mr) Ho’s black hair” (Shou = head, Wu = black), stemming from an ancient story about a 58-year-old man who reversed his gray hair and who had an extremely strong sexual desire after taking the herb.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
Historically eaten by Inca warriors for endurance and strength, maca is a root native to the Andes Mountains. While it’s a member of the cruciferous family (where broccoli and cabbage are from), it was thought of as a natural superfood, a powerful aphrodisiac, and a fertility secret of people living in the Andes.
Schizandra (Schisandra Chinensis)
A plant is known as Wu Wei Zi in Chinese, which translated to “Five Flavors Fruit” and was first written about between the 1st and 2nd Century A.D. for its superior healing properties. Not only was it known for its effects on the skin, but it was also thought to increase sensitivity and circulation in the female genitals.
What you need to take out of your meal plan
There are always some things that have to be taken out of the diet to achieve great health, and the following are the most troublesome foods that cause issues with our sexual energy:
No surprise here! As always, sugar wreaks havoc on most bodily processes including the libido due to its impact on sex hormones. Studies even show that testosterone levels remain low hours after consuming glucose, decreasing blood levels by 25% on average.
Caffeine & Alcohol
Both of these substances can negatively affect sexual desire and performance as well as reducing body sensitivity. Caffeine also can push cortisol levels up, which has a knock-on effect on sex hormone balance.
Due to the hormone content of milk, dairy can affect our oestrogen and testosterone levels. It can have a strong impact on the digestive system, too, causing a cascade of imbalances in the body. Opt for nut milks where possible, and you can try substituting with nutritional yeast as a cheesy-tasting alternative.
Processed Foods and Trans Fats
Chemicals, high amounts of added salt, and fried foods can lead to abnormal sperm production in men and gestational issues in women. They can also lead to high blood pressure, affecting the flow of blood to the reproductive organs. Opting only to use coconut oil in cooking, adding just small amounts of sea salt or Himalayan salt to your food, and eating only real, whole foods can have a massively positive effect on sex drive.
Aside from the diet, working on reducing stress levels, ensuring eight hours sleep a night, and including strength training into your fitness regime (as opposed to cardio which can affect hormone levels), can be beneficial for balancing hormones and getting your sex drive in order.
It’s time we took back control of our sexuality and put some plans in place to get a little closer and bond with our significant others this Valentine’s Day!
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