We all know that to feel your best, it’s important to eat nutritious food, get enough exercise, and have good sleep hygiene. These are the elements that keep us feeling top notch. The same is true for your sexual health.
“Your reproductive system needs proper nutrition to function optimally,” Diane Neman, D.D.S., a certified holistic nutritionist and health coach, tells TheBody. While the foods you eat are not the only factors that contribute to sexual health (exercise, sleep hygiene, etc., also matter here), new data shows what many experts have long known: Gut health is key to sexual health. It is a gut-sex connection, if you will.
Many factors go into promoting good sexual health, and your diet is an essential piece of that puzzle. Consuming a diverse variety of foods that contain beneficial nutrients—vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals—is crucial for a balanced diet. It is also key to keeping your body and sexual system healthy. This can affect everything from arousal to overall function and orgasm.
Your Microbiome and Wellness
The microbiome of the gut—a fancy way of saying the bacterial makeup of your digestive system—is key to good sex. Having lots of healthy bacteria in your gut helps all of your other organs and bodily functions run smoothly. Heather Hanks, M.S., a nutritionist with Instapot Life who specializes in holistic nutrition and gut health, tells TheBody that eating healthily “promote[s] blood circulation, which is especially beneficial for achieving orgasms.”
As it turns out, it really matters what you put inside your mouth. Did that joke land? Moving on.
There are many, many hormones that are involved in sexual functioning. One of the main players? A little snack called serotonin. According to a study in the journal Biochimie, the gut is where 95% of your serotonin is created. This is your body’s “happiness” hormone. Serotonin levels are directly linked to normal sexual functioning.
While people seek out sex for many reasons, I think we can all agree that feeling happy makes most of us more excited for sex than feeling stressed or exhausted. That’s not exactly a revolutionary statement, but you get it. Joe Johnson, a fitness instructor and owner of 9 to 5 Nutrition, agrees, telling TheBody, “Libido and desire will generally be more elevated in people that are happy and confident, and a varied diet goes a long way to boosting body image and confidence.”
How do you keep healthy hormone levels and your body functioning at its full capacity? By eating lots of healthy foods. Hanks says you want foods that are “high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.”
Let’s break it down so we can all get down, amiright?
Stay Away From Inflammatory Foods
Look, I love a chocolate-chip cookie and taking a (whole) Victoria sponge cake to the face as much as anyone, but if you only eat refined sugar and carbs, your body will rebel against you. Hanks tells us that foods that are sugar-, carb-, or gluten-heavy cause inflammation in the body, which is really fucking bad for it.
Why is inflammation so bad? It causes everything in your body to get pissed off and angry, leading to low energy, poor digestion, all sorts of diseases, and—you guessed it—poor sexual functioning.
A varied, anti-inflammatory diet makes for a better sex life. “Your diet is the foundation of how you feel and perform because a nutritious diet is fuel for your body. And if you want to perform your best in the bedroom (and elsewhere), you’ll want to eat the well-balanced diet full of nutrients and energy [that] your body needs,” a sex hacker who specializes in improving the sex lives of others with specific guidance and expertise, Kenneth Play, tells TheBody.
Diversify Your Diet
Having a healthy sex life does not mean we are relegating you to the realm of kale smoothies and “superfoods” for all time. Honestly, that sounds terrible and super boring. What we are doing is encouraging you to consider a varied diet that is packed with healthy (and tasty) foods.
“Consuming a diverse variety of foods that contain beneficial nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals) is crucial for a balanced diet. That balanced mainframe [is] key to keeping your body and sexual system healthy,” Neman explains.
The Big 3: Fruits, Veggies, and Protein
“Fruit contains important flavonoids, which help keep inflammation at bay and are thought to reduce the incidence of erectile dysfunction,” Neman says. “Fruits and veggies also contain lots of other antioxidants, such as vitamin C, which improve circulation, helping to increase sensitivity and enjoyment in women and erectile function in men.”
The next time you want to skip eating your veggies, just think of all the bountiful orgasms you’re more likely to have if you munch up your greens. What better motivation could there be?
Protein is a fundamental building block in creating a healthy body. The human body does use carbohydrates as fuel, but it functions more efficiently when it’s using protein to build stronger, leaner muscle mass. Who says you can’t have a steak and get laid too? No one. No one has ever said that.
You’ll also want to incorporate healthy fats into your diet from sources like flaxseed and avocados. “Zinc, L-arginine, and carnitine play a major role in producing testosterone and utilizing thyroid hormones,” Neman says.
All of this health talk is not meant to shame or discourage anyone who enjoys a blueberry muffin, some gelato, or a sleeve of cookies sometimes. You don’t need to be some deity of perfect health to have a banging (literally) sex life. It doesn’t mean skipping out on fun foods entirely, it just means maintaining a healthy diet overall. Sexual health is sexual wealth.