Both men and women can fall victim to a lack of libido at some point during their adult lives.
More often than not, this dip in desire is a temporary glitch which can be safely resolved by re-evaluating our general health and adjusting lifestyle habits.
Unfortunately some medications such as opioids, anti-psychotics, cancer treatments and beta blockers can directly affect sex drive, as do some health issues including depression, fluctuating hormones, arthritis and ageing.
However, where possible there are some changes you can make to help you get back in the mood, specifically with your diet.
Nutritionist Sarah Flower reveals her top tips on what foods you can consume to help turn you on and what foods to avoid to prevent turning off.
A diet rich in vitamins, antioxidants and minerals can boost your libido, while fatty foods, sugar and caffeine can turn you off, says nutritionist Sara Flower
HOW DOES NUTRITION AFFECT LIBIDO?
1) Fats affect nerve transmission
Increase fats such as essential fatty acids, omega-3 and natural oils by filling up on oily fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and flaxseeds. Good healthy fats such as oily fish act as anti-inflammatories and supports nerve transmission and neurotransmitter actions.
2) Alkaline lowers libido-crushing inflammation
Reduce body inflammation by opting for an alkaline diet – fill up on dark green leafy vegetables and avoid processed foods, sugar and refined grains. This will be of particular help to those who have a health issue that is affecting their libido such as arthritis, obesity, hormone imbalances, diabetes and heart disease.
3) Minerals get your blood rushing
Boost blood flow and support micro-circulation by eating plenty of vitamin C-boosting berries as well as rich and leafy greens including kale and broccoli. You can also aid blood flow by eating plenty of zinc-rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, red meat, chickpeas and spinach. Zinc is particularly vital for healthy sperm and boosting male fertility. Cocoa also contains zinc, making dark chocolate which is also rich in phytonutrients, a good option.
4) Vitamin B crushes stress and boosts your mood
Enhance your mood by eating plenty of foods rich in B vitamins, such as pork, poultry, bread, wholegrains, eggs and pulses. I would also recommend taking a B-Complex which can help combat feelings of stress, lack of energy or depression. They are also vital in supporting the adrenal glands, which produce a variety of hormones.
5) Vitamin D primes your hormones for stimulation
Vitamin D is fast becoming the star vitamin and must-have for our overall health including our immune system, blood pressure and even cholesterol, but it also plays an important role in our sex drive. vitamin D deficiency can lower hormones (estrogen for woman and testosterone for men) which affect mood, sexual desire and performance. To improve mood and libido, I would advise taking a vitamin D supplement daily from October to April and for those who don’t spend much time outside, throughout the year.
5) Antioxidants protect sperm from damage
Spirulina has been found to protect sperm and testes from the damaging effects of mercury poisoning, safeguarding male fertility. You can buy spirulina in powder or capsule form. It is also a little powerhouse of antioxidants.
FOODS TO GET YOU IN THE MOOD
Goji berries. Goji berries are believed to be a strong sexual stimulant, as they increase testosterone levels which stimulates libido in both men and women. They also improve overall stamina, mood and wellbeing, all of which are vital components for an exciting sex life.
Avocados. Avocados contain high levels of folic acid which helps metabolize protein, therefore giving you more energy. Avocados also contain vitamin B6, a nutrient that increases male hormone production, and potassium which helps regulate a woman’s thyroid gland, two elements that help get both men and women in the mood.
Bee pollen. Not only is bee pollen great for sex drive, it also gives you a boost of confidence, sustainable energy, increases your endurance, relieves stress, and enhances your immunity. It also has a huge effect on sperm count and is even believed to increase fertility.
Celery. Celery is not your average libido inducing food, but a number of studies have found that eating celery can actually increase the pheromone levels in a man’s sweat, making him more attractive to women.
A healthy dose of celery can super charge male pheromones that attract women
Garlic. Raw garlic is thought to make your partner turn away, but the heat in garlic is what stirs up your libido. Garlic contain allicin, which is thought to increase blood flow to sexual organs. Consume raw garlic for about a month to reap the benefits.
Sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium, a mineral known to combat high blood pressure, a condition which develops a higher risk of erectile dysfunction. Sweet potatoes are also rich in beta-carotene, providing the body with plenty of vitamin A, which helps to boost fertility by promoting better cervical fluid.
Dark chocolate. As well as boosting blood flow, dark chocolate increases the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine, helping to lower stress levels and promote relaxation. These two reasons alone, make dark chocolate the perfect accompaniment to a quiet night in.
Oysters. Oysters have a reputation of being a libido booster. Whether it is the shape and texture of the shell or the fact that they are packed with lots of libido boosting zinc, minerals, and amino acids, is unclear. Oysters are also packed with B vitamins which helps with the all-important circulation.
Watermelon. As well as being rich in lycopene, watermelon also contains citrulline, which converts to the amino acid arginine. This helps relax blood vessels similar to the way Viagra works.
Ginger. Ginger is more often known for its anti-nausea and circulation boosting properties however it can also boost sex drive. Try some ginger tea, or grate a little ginger into a spicy curry alongside chili.
A ginger tea may be just the thing you need to get your sex drive going
Chili. Turn up the heat by adding some spice to your meals. Chilies help speed up the metabolism, increase blood flow, plump your lips and releases feel good endorphins. Combine chili with dark chocolate to get the ultimate stimulation.
Figs. These are said to stimulate fertility and the secretion of pheromones.
THE TURN-OFFS YOU NEED TO AVOID
Mint. Bad breath is always a turn off, but you shouldn’t be turning to mint for a cure, especially if you are a male. The menthol in mint lowers testosterone which subsequently reduces your sex drive.
Cheese. Cheese often comes from cow’s milk which is loaded with synthetic hormones. These could potentially interfere with your body’s natural production of hormones, including estrogen and testosterone which can therefore mess around with your sex drive.
Pills. Birth control pills can have a damaging effect on your sex drive, as they can interrupt how your body produces and manages hormones like serotonin, epinephrine and dopamine, which all influence whether you are in the mood.
Sugar. It’s hard to get away from sugar, so it’s important that you are careful. Sugar increases levels of the hormone insulin, which can cause you to store belly fat, lose muscle mass and cause testosterone levels to drop, subsequently ruining your libido. Making a conscious effort to cut down the sugar you consume can be all you need to prevent ruining a cozy night in with your partner.
Alcohol. Whilst alcohol can remove inhibitions, it can also affect performance. A drink or two could relax and get you in the mood, but becoming too inebriated could have the opposite effect, changing the mood for the worse!
Caffeine. Caffeine-based products are often very dehydrating and can also have negative effects on the adrenal glands, which in turn – when coupled with stress and anxiety can mean it’s harder get into the mood.
Smoking. This can not only damage your lungs but can also affect blood flow and general repair of the body. The smell of a smoking partner is also very off putting if you don’t smoke yourself.
Stress. This can have a negative effect on both male and female libido, as can anxiety, depression and lack of sleep. Sleep is absolutely vital to repair, rebalance and regulate hormonal production, so ensure you get plenty of sleep to stay on top of your game. You can also try increasing your daily intake of magnesium – ‘the anti-stress mineral’ which helps relax muscles and improves flexibility and tones blood vessels – vital for a healthy libido.