Besides being an embarrassing personal problem, erectile dysfunction (ED) is also an important risk factor as it can be an indicator of the development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.2, 3 Although difficult to talk about, it is not a symptom that you’d want to ignore. Clinically, I have seen this in younger and younger populations over the last 10 years. Take heart—There’s always hope!
What is ED?
Sometimes referred to as impotence, ED is when a man cannot get or maintain an erection sufficient to have sex. This condition is almost always accompanied by embarrassment, shame, fear and a flood of other negative emotions. The stress of this situation can perpetuate it further if not adequately addressed.
The following increase your risk for ED:
- Age. this is more common as you get older. However, ED not an inevitable outcome of aging. This condition isn’t due to a number of years per se but rather has more to do with how you live in those year…and it’s never too late to make changes.
- Poor diet
- Many diseases and conditions including metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression4
Causes can be both psychological as well as physical, including: 5
- Stress, depression or anxiety (this can take many forms) 4
- Specifically, performance anxiety if this has happened in the past
- Hormone imbalances such as low testosterone and/or excess estrogen
- Any issues with the prostate
- Poor blood flow due to congested veins and arteries (common with a standard American diet), especially with high blood pressure and/or cardiovascular disease
- High blood sugar
- High cholesterol
- Physical trauma to the pelvis or lower back (nerve damage)
A whole food plant-based diet (WFPB) is an excellent way to improve/decrease both the incidence and severity of erectile dysfunction.6 WFPB diets are rich in polyphenols which are shown to reduce ED.7 They also tend to be lower in calories as compared to western diets which also has a positive impact on ED.8 Some foods to include:
- Foods rich in nitric oxide (improves blood flow).9 This includes beets, cacao, dark leafy greens, citrus, nuts and seeds.
- Fruit, especially berries, apples and citrus.10
- Foods rich in citrulline.11 Watermelon is one of the best sources…but also beans (especially chickpeas), nuts and squash.
- Although there are several nuances that should be considered when it comes to caffeine, 200mg of caffeine (about 2 cups of coffee or 4-5 cups of green or black tea) can also help with ED.12
A few things to avoid:
- Saturated fat. You don’t need to worry much about this when you’re on a WFPB diet as most saturated fat comes from animal products (meat, dairy, etc.).13
- Alcohol and sugary drinks (soda).13
- Cigarette smoking.13
- Long bike rides. Although you can benefit from the exercise, bike seats can put excess pressure on the entire perineal area, causing a lack of blood flow.
A few supplements that can help:
The best supplements, like all recommendations, would ideally be personalized to address YOUR cause. For example, if the reason that you are challenged with ED is stress, then you would choose a supplement to help your body respond to stress such as an adaptogen or B vitamins. However, if you are dealing with this as a result of being diabetic, then you’d get more help from a supplement that supports healthy blood sugar. Bearing that in mind, in general, here are a few supplements that can be helpful.
- CircuZyme (from PRL)- Evidence supports the use of 1500-5000mg of arginine/day, so start with at least 4-6 caps/day. 14
- Fermented Beets powder (from PRL)- The nitric oxide helps relax smooth muscle and thus increase blood flow.15 Start with 2 scoops (12g) daily.
- Fermented Mushroom powder– Medicinal mushrooms work as powerful adaptogens and help with ED as well.16 Start with 1-2 scoops daily.
*All of these products are considered safe when taken as specified above. Beetroot powder can cause the urine and stool to be dark red in color- this is normal so don’t be alarmed.
The most important thing, as difficult as it can be, is to get help if you need it. Implement some of these practices for a few months, but if you don’t see dramatic improvements in that time, seek the guidance of a professional. It can be hard to get past the embarrassment, but your life and relationship is worth it! Remember this could be a sign of something much more serious so don’t wait for it to get worse. New Hope Health is a safe space for health and healing to occur. Please reach out if you need help. 269-204-6525
1. StockSnap. Sad Man. Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/photos/guy-man-people-dark-shadow-hands-2617866/. Accessed September 4, 2021.
2. Rakel D. Integrative Medicine: Fourth Edition.; 2017.
3. Skeldon SC, Detsky AS, Goldenberg SL, Law MR. Erectile dysfunction and undiagnosed diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. Ann Fam Med. 2015. doi:10.1370/afm.1816
4. Liu Q, Zhang Y, Wang J, et al. Erectile Dysfunction and Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Sex Med. 2018. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.05.016
5. Aghighi A, Grigoryan VH, Delavar A. Psychological determinants of erectile dysfunction among middle-aged men. Int J Impot Res. 2015. doi:10.1038/ijir.2014.34
6. Lu Y, Kang J, Li Z, et al. The association between plant-based diet and erectile dysfunction in Chinese men. Basic Clin Androl. 2021. doi:10.1186/s12610-021-00129-5
7. Eleazu C, Obianuju N, Eleazu K, Kalu W. The role of dietary polyphenols in the management of erectile dysfunction–Mechanisms of action. Biomed Pharmacother. 2017. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2017.01.125
8. La J, Roberts NH, Yafi FA. Diet and Men’s Sexual Health. Sex Med Rev. 2018. doi:10.1016/j.sxmr.2017.07.004
9. Davies KP. Development and therapeutic applications of nitric oxide releasing materials to treat erectile dysfunction. Futur Sci OA. 2015. doi:10.4155/fso.15.53
10. Cassidy A, Franz M, Rimm EB. Dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of erectile dysfunction. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.122010
11. Cormio L, De Siati M, Lorusso F, et al. Oral L-citrulline supplementation improves erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction. Urology. 2011. doi:10.1016/j.urology.2010.08.028
12. Lopez DS, Wang R, Tsilidis KK, et al. Role of caffeine intake on erectile dysfunction in US men: Results from NHANES 2001-2004. PLoS One. 2015. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123547
13. Yafi FA, Jenkins L, Albersen M, et al. Erectile dysfunction. Nat Rev Dis Prim. 2016. doi:10.1038/nrdp.2016.3
14. Chang Rhim H, Kim MS, Park YJ, et al. The Potential Role of Arginine Supplements on Erectile Dysfunction: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Sex Med. 2019. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.12.002
15. Smeets ETHC, Mensink RP, Hoeks J, Den Bosch J de V Van, Hageman RJJ, Joris PJ. Effects of beetroot powder with or without l-arginine on postprandial vascular endothelial function: Results of a randomized controlled trial with abdominally obese men. Nutrients. 2020. doi:10.3390/nu12113520
16. Pohsa S, Hanchang W, Singpoonga N, Chaiprasart P, Taepavarapruk P. Effects of Cultured Cordycep militaris on Sexual Performance and Erectile Function in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Male Rats. Biomed Res Int. 2020. doi:10.1155/2020/4198397
Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease. It does not take the place of a health care practitioner. It is for educational purposes only.