Lifestyle plays an important role in determining the overall health of an individual. The foods you eat, the time you work out for, the time you sleep for - everything plays a vital role in your daily life. If you eat foods that are high in sugar, are fatty and greasy, you might have a difficult time as you age. 

Fried and fatty foods often clog your arteries and make it difficult for blood to flow properly. On the other hand, if you eat healthy foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds, legumes, etc., you’ll find yourself productive and keep yourself away from all the illnesses. 

However, due to our sedentary lifestyle, the same isn’t the case. Due to work-related stress and other things happening in our daily lives, we all crave for foods that tantalize our taste buds and calm our senses. 

The bad news is - most of the foods that we eat have a negative impact on our health in the long term. Where physical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, etc. are common among middle and old age groups, these conditions can certainly be avoided if a healthy diet regime is followed. 

As men age, they may find trouble performing in bed as they may not be able to get hard properly. Sexual concerns such as erectile dysfunction (ED) are pretty common. Around 30 million men in the US are known to suffer from this condition. 

While medications such as Viagra 200mg (which is the highest dose of the drug) are helpful for the treatment of ED, they aren’t a permanent solution for the problem in the long term. Therefore, making certain lifestyle modifications becomes important so that you can have a great time with your partner.

Let’s take a look at certain foods that you can include in your daily diet to combat erectile dysfunction.


1.   Foods Containing L-arginine

L-arginine is an amino acid found in foods rich in protein. Our body uses l-arginine to make nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is responsible for the widening and relaxation of blood vessels, thereby increasing the blood flow to the penis. Studies suggest that men with lower l-arginine levels tend to have ED.

Some foods that are rich in l-arginine are poultry, red meat, fish, nuts, and dairy products.


2.   Green Vegetables and Beetroots

Leafy greens such as spinach can increase blood circulation as they are high in nitrates. In fact, beetroot juice has been found to be high in nitrates. Nitrates are vasodilators that help open up blood vessels and increase blood flow. Therefore, taking foods rich in nitrates can help to fight off the ill-effects of ED.

Moreover, the ED drugs that are prescribed these days work in a similar manner by providing a relaxing effect on the blood vessels that supply the penis.


3.   Watermelon

Studies suggest that watermelon increases sexual desire and has similar effects on the penis like the ED drug Viagra. It is rich in ingredients known as phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are antioxidants. Watermelon is loaded with an antioxidant called lycopene that’s good for the heart, prostate, and skin. It relaxes the blood vessels that supply an erection and makes it easier for you to get hard. Although watermelon is loaded with 92% water, the other 8% works wonders for men with ED.


4.   Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diet is a diet that’s high in vegetables, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. Various evidence suggests that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease increases the chances of experiencing ED as it damages the blood vessels and disrupts the blood flow. Following a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of ED and improve sexual function.


5.   Flavonoids in Dark Chocolate

Flavonoids are phytonutrients that are found in dark chocolates and certain fruits and vegetables. They help to improve endothelial function and blood pressure. Since they are a group of plant compounds, they are naturally occurring antioxidants that protect plants from toxins and help repair cell damage. A 10-year study conducted on 25,000 males found that men who consumed the most flavonoids had 9-10% less incidence of ED than men who consumed the least. Furthermore, it was observed that men who ate and drank flavonoids such as strawberries, blueberries, red wine, apples, pears, and citrus products had a 19% lesser risk for ED. There are also flavonoid supplements available in case you don't like the bitter taste but still want the dark chocolate properties.


6.   Zinc-fortified Foods

Zinc is an essential mineral that your body needs to produce testosterone. Foods such as oysters and shellfish are rich in zinc that help to boost testosterone levels and increase sex drive. Lower testosterone levels have been linked with erectile dysfunction. Therefore, make sure you add zinc-fortified foods or zinc supplements to your diet.


While eating a healthy diet that is good for your heart can improve blood circulation, it doesn’t guarantee your chances of preventing erectile dysfunction in the long term. Therefore, if you experience any symptoms of ED such as an inability to get an erection during intercourse, difficulty maintaining an erection, and ability to get an erection sometimes but not every time when you plan to have sex. This is when you should reach out to a medical professional who’ll examine you by carrying out some tests. If you’re diagnosed with ED, there are certain treatment options that your doctor may recommend.

Treatment Options for ED

It is better to discuss your medical history in detail with the doctor so that he can rule out potential health conditions you may be dealing with. If you take any medications for health conditions or recreational purposes, let your doctor know about them.


1.    Lifestyle changes

Your doctor may recommend making certain lifestyle modifications to improve sexual function. Lifestyle changes such as a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake, getting an adequate amount of sleep, and managing weight (if you’re obese) can help improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction.


2.    Medications

Prescription medications are often chosen as the first line of treatment for ED. While your doctor may suggest you make certain lifestyle changes, he may also prescribe you medications such as Viagra and Levitra. These medications belong to the class of drugs known as PDE 5 inhibitors.

Viagra contains Sildenafil Citrate that improves blood circulation throughout the body, including the penis. It is recommended to be taken on an empty stomach and exactly one hour before any sexual activity. The effects of Viagra last for 4-5 hours.

On the other hand, Levitra contains the active ingredient Vardenafil that relaxes the smooth muscles present in the walls of the blood vessels and helps in increasing the blood flow to the penis. While Levitra 20 mg is the most commonly prescribed dose of the drug, for men who don’t get the desired benefits of the drug, your doctor may increase your dose and prescribe you Levitra 60 mg. Levitra is intended to be taken in a similar manner as Viagra. The effects of Levitra last for a period of 5 hours.


3.    Alprostadil injection

In some cases, doctors may recommend using a penile injection that may be injected into the base or side of the penis. This kind of injection causes an erection that lasts not more than an hour. Examples include alprostadil and phentolamine.


4.    Penis Pumps

A penis pump is basically a hollow tube with a hand-powered or battery-powered pump. It creates an air suction to pull blood into the penis. Once an erection is achieved, a tension ring is placed on the base of the penis to hold the blood and keep it firm. The penis pump is then removed.


The Bottom Line

Sexual concerns such as erectile dysfunction are fairly common. Taking a healthy diet that is good for the heart and blood circulation can improve sexual function. While they don’t guarantee your chances of preventing ED, they are still helpful in avoiding the common causes of ED. If you notice any potential signs of ED, you should consider seeking help from a medical professional. Your doctor can help identify the foods that you should eat and discuss suitable treatment options to combat erectile dysfunction.