Valentine’s Day shines a light on romance, in the heart and in the bedroom. A healthy sex life is an important component of a loving relationship, be it with yourself or another. But sometimes the inclination of the mind does not match the willingness of the body. To begin correcting this mismatch, it helps to understand briefly how sex works in order to understand where change needs to happen.
The seeds of desire are planted via an emotional connection, a look or a touch. This is received by your brain which translates the feeling into a neurochemical signal that runs down to your testes or ovaries, asking them to release a wave of testosterone and oestrogen into your body. In response, blood vessels dilate and more blood is moved to the surface of the body as well as to the sensory organs, genitals and erogenous zones. The body then cycles through neurological stimulation – hormone release – physical response until climax is achieved.
To summarise, there is (1) an emotional/neurological element, (2) a hormonal element (testosterone ± oestrogen for both men and women) and (3) a physical element (blood flow and heightened sensitivity). When anything impedes one of these elements, the cycle is broken and sex loses its attraction or it’s impetus.
Sometimes the inclination of the mind does not match the willingness of the body.
You can begin the process of completing the cycle and improving your sexual health by looking to your kitchen for foods, herbs and plant-based nutritional supplements that speak to one or more of the elements.
Please remember that some signs of sexual dysfunction are the tips of a more serious iceberg, e.g. erectile dysfunction as a sign of arterial disease – chat with your GP first.
Ten foods or herbs to stock up on and use regularly include:
- Walnuts – contain omega 3 fatty acids that ultimately increase levels of nitric oxide in the body. This leads to greater blood flow to the sex organs and enhanced sensitivity. Omega 3 also supports neurochemicals that increase feelings of positivity and relaxation.
- Beetroots – rich in nitrates, this superfood is great way to improve blood flow to the body in general and to the genitals when needed.
- Pumpkin seeds – a great source of zinc, known to boost testosterone production, which leads to a greater sex drive in women and men equally, and works on the hormonal and emotional elements concurrently. Also contains l-arginine, an amino acid known to improve blood flow to the genital area.
- Bananas – another great trigger of testosterone production via an enzyme called bromelain. They also contain potassium and B-vitamins that elevate energy levels and improve stamina.
- Cacao – chocolate in its pure form is a powerful aphrodisiac. It releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that creates relaxation and pleasure in the emotional element. It also contains bioflavonoids and magnesium that support the physical element by opening up blood vessels and improving blood flow. Quality is important – raw cacao, raw chocolate or at least 72% dark chocolate will work. Products made with cocoa powder or ordinary milk chocolate will not.
- Nutmeg –a spice you can use to spice up your sex life. It contains compounds that mimic serotonin, helping you relax and allow the pleasure to flow. Nutmeg also helps improve your sleep cycle because of its high levels of tryptophan – poor sleep interferes with all three elements of the sexual cycle.
- Maca root powder – this Peruvian root tuber tastes malty and is packed with high levels of essential amino acids, iodine, iron, magnesium and other phytonutrients. This works on the hormonal element by optimising testosterone and oestrogen ratios and on the physical element by improving stamina and heart health.
- Asparagus – long considered to be a great libido-booster, asparagus contains high levels of folate, a key B-vitamin that regulates the chemicals like histamine that enhance pleasure and lead to orgasm.
- Pine pollen – known in the Chinese medicine philosophy as “Di Tao”, this is a powerful enhancer of sexual energy and vitality. This makes sense considering that pine pollen is the sexual fluid of a pine tree that gives rise to a 30-meter-tall pine tree! You can collect your own or visit your local health shop to purchase.
- Horny Goat Weed – also known as epimedium, this Chinese Medicine herbal contains potent anti-oxidants and a range of phytonutrients that stimulate the libido and reduce sexual dysfunction in both men and women by mimicking the action of testosterone and balancing oestrogen and estradiol levels.