Libido is a Freudian term describing the force or psychic energy behind human action; especially the sexual urge or as some might put it passion, sexual appetite, instinct or drive, “the hots”, randiness, mojo (how I personally refer to it thanks Austin Powers) or erotic desire. Freud had a very precise and thorough process of psychoanalysis laid out for all the stages and manifestations of libido throughout the lifecycle and while you might not be aware of his work in-depth, everyone knows this term and no one wants to be without it. Have you ever lost your sexual appetite? There’s a lot of reasons why it might happen: age and it’s natural physical consequences, an unhealthy relationship, side effects from prescription drugs, depression, sexually transmitted disease, obesity, lack of exercise, heart disease or diabetes, chronic sleep deprivation, anxiety, illegal drug use, excessive alcohol intake or too much time on your bicycle (yes guys, I’m referring to you here).
The reason for a loss of libido could either be simple and easily corrected or very complex but one thing’s for sure; the right nutrition can help. However, half of the foods generally recommended for healthy sexual function are animal-based (oysters, fresh eggs, fish liver oil and bee pollen to name a few). Here we’ll take a look at the key nutrients involved and the best Vegan food sources as well as a brief look at supplements and herbs that might also help.
Basically, healthy sexual function boils down to three areas: adequate hormone production, blood circulation and stress reduction. The main nutrients that support these three areas are Zinc, Vitamin E, B6 and Magnesium (which have been linked to hormone production), Vitamin C (increases blood flow), Vitamin B-complex (believed to help reduce stress) and Essential Fatty Acids (also known to increase blood flow). A good quality multi-vitamin/mineral will certainly help but what about food sources? Some food sources have been chosen because they have the nutrients listed above while others made the list because of other natural properties or simply because they are known to be sexually suggestive.
Watermelon: According to the Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center at Texas A and M University, they consider this fruit to be the Viagra because of the presence of an amino acid called citruline which is good for the cardiovascular system and helps relax the blood vessels that increase sex drive.
Cocoa: According to The Journal of Sexual Medicine, women who consumed a piece of chocolate every day had a more active sex life than those who didn’t. Why might this be the case? Cocoa contains a chemical known as phenylethlamine that stimulates the sense of excitement and well being. Raw cacao also has more antioxidants than a serving of green tea or red wine.
Asparagus: I came across a lot of material saying that half the reason this green vegetable made the list is because of its suggestive shape but more importantly asparagus is quite high in the B Vitamin Folate which aids in the production increase of histamine. Histamine is known as an important component of healthy sex drive for both men and women.
Pumpkin Seeds: Like oysters, they pumpkin seeds contain a substantial amount of zinc. As stated earlier, Zinc helps in the production of hormones but especially for men zinc is essential in healthy sperm production and preventing testosterone deficiency. In addition to this, pumpkin seeds also have a good amount of Vitamin B, E, C, D and K as well as calcium, potassium, niacin and phosphorus.
Celery: Just for fun and maybe even a good trivia question for your friends, did you know that when men eat celery it increases the pheromone levels in their sweat, making them more attractive to women?
Garlic: Raw garlic contains allicin, which is thought to increase blood flow to sexual organs but you might need to consume it regularly for a month before you see any benefits. If you don’t like raw garlic you can always purchase it in capsule form.
Grape Seed and Flaxseed Oil: Both of these oils are readily available and packed with Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s). That being said flaxseed is the better choice because it contains Omega-3 EFA’s. The main EFA in grape seed oil is omega-6 which is much more readily available in other food sources. There are also several high-quality oil blends found in health food stores that contain omega 3, 6 and 9.
Kelp: This sea vegetable is an excellent source of iodine, arguably the best source available in any edible food. Iodine is a component of the thyroid hormones and necessary for development of the reproductive organs. But also keep in mind that when iodine is taken in excess that toxicity will develop, leading to a whole host of other problems. The suggested amount of kelp per day is the equivalent of 2,000-3,000mg. Read the nutrition facts label to see what this equates to as far quantity goes.
Bananas: Rich in potassium and B vitamins, bananas are important because these nutrients help with sexual stamina and sex hormone production. They also contain bromelein(as does pineapple and papaya) which is believed to increase libido.
Honorable Mention: Other foods known as libido enhancers for various reasons are chilies, figs, avocado and strawberries.
If you’re not already eating most of these foods regularly then now’s the time to begin. Here are a few suggestions:
- Eat a dark green leafy salad most days and then shoot for adding 2-4 of the above foods like toasted pumpkin seeds, avocado and roasted asparagus.
- Make your own salad dressing out of flaxseed oil and a little fresh lemon juice.
- When figs and watermelon are in season then indulge.
- Without fail, eat a banana every day as a between meal snack, added to your morning cereal or smoothie, frozen for a hot weather treat, etc.
- Consume some cocoa or raw cocoa by making hot chocolate, adding it to a smoothie or better yet look up some vegan dessert recipes. (As a side note, with chocolate being one of the top industries using slave labor, try your best to buy from fair trade companies.)
- Prepare a basic vegetable broth and add kelp, garlic and celery.
Herbs and Roots
According to the Wall Street Journal, one out of every five men over 40 in the U.S. has tried Viagra. Since 1999 the price of Viagra has doubled with 100 pills now running about $1500. I won’t get into all the pros and cons involved in going this route but it does pose an important question. Should prescription drugs be the first thing you reach for or are there better, safer, less expensive alternatives? Furthermore, Viagra’s job is not to help you with your desire. Its sole purpose is to get more blood to flow into the “right place” for an extended period of time, whether you’re mentally and emotionally connected to the act or not and will never improve your libido. Here’s a list of herbs and roots that have been proven to one extent or another to help with sexual desire. Also, look at the resource section for links to more information. You can also consult a reputable Naturopath for a complete assessment and treatment program.
For Men: Korean Ginseng, Horny Goat Weed, Catauba Bark, Mucuna Pruriens
For Women: Damiana, Shatavari, Muira Puama, Gingko Biloba
For Both: Yohimbe, Tongkat Ali, Indian Ginseng and Maca
Other lifestyle libido enhancers include adequate sleep, healthy stress management and daily exercise but some would argue that the main area of the body involved in healthy sexual function is the brain and I would agree with that to a certain extent. You must recognize that as a human being you can do everything right when it comes to nutrition but if you’re in a bad relationship no amount of flaxseed oil is going to magically cause you to desire intimacy with that person!
Be honest with yourself and take inventory of all your life habits. Take care of the obvious things first but whether you find that your problems are complex or as simple as trying some watermelon with your partner right after a workout, never compromise when it comes nourishing your body with the nutrients it needs.
- Home Remedies for Low Libido http://www.ehow.com/way_5602746_home-remedy-low-libido.html#ixzz2HxKSELv1
- Gianni, Kevin Top 4 Herbs for Boosting Your Libido(For Him and Her): Exclusive Renegade Health Article http://renegadehealth.com/blog/2012/04/02/top-4-herbs-fo-boosting-libido
- Nutrients For a Healthy Sex Life: http://healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=1909
- Balch, Phyllis A., CNC Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition.
by Melissa Sanborn of Nutritional Brands, PureVegan