Can certain nutrients boost your sexual performance? Find out which foods may prevent erection problems — and how they work.
Sorry, guys: There’s no miracle food to prevent erectile dysfunction. However, there is some evidence that certain foods may help.
“Evidence that foods can help with ED is probably related to a vascular connection,” says Firouz Daneshgari, MD, professor and chairman of the department of urology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. “Erectile problems are usually due to not having a good blood supply to the penis, so foods that are good for your vascular system may also help prevent ED.” Should you eat more of the foods containing these key nutrients?
Nitrates in Leafy Greens and Beets
Leafy green vegetables, like celery and spinach, may increase circulation because of their high concentration of nitrates. Beet juice has been found to be really high in nitrates. Nitrates are vasodilators, which means they open up blood vessels and increase blood flow. Many years before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first ED drug in 1998, several case reports on the beneficial effects of nitrates for erectile dysfunction had already been published. The ED drugs used today are based on the relaxing effects of nitrates on the blood vessels that supply the penis.
Flavonoids in Dark Chocolate
A recent study in the journal Circulation found that flavonoids in dark chocolate improve circulation. That could be good for erection problems that are due to poor circulation. Flavonoids are naturally-occurring antioxidants that protect plants from toxins and help repair cell damage. Studies show that flavonoids and other antioxidants have similar effects on people. They may help lower blood pressure and decrease cholesterol, both of which are factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Protein in Pistachios
A recent study found that men with erectile dysfunction who ate pistachio nuts every day for three weeks experienced significant improvement in sexual issues, including ED, sexual desire, and overall sexual satisfaction. The benefits of pistachios for erection problems may be due to a protein called arginine, which may help relax blood vessels. “This is another example of how good circulation is good for sexual health, which is good news because I eat a lot of pistachios,” says Dr. Daneshgari.
Zinc in Oysters and Other Shellfish
The oyster has always had an aphrodisiac reputation. One reason may be that oysters have high levels of the mineral zinc, which plays an important role in the production of the male hormone testosterone, and low levels of testosterone could be one reason for erectile dysfunction. Research presented at an American Chemical Society meeting may offer another connection: Raw shellfish contain compounds that stimulate the release of sexual hormones in both men and women.
Antioxidants in Watermelon
Some studies show that watermelon may have effects on erectile dysfunction that are similar to the ED drug Viagra and may also increase sexual desire. Watermelon is rich in beneficial ingredients known as phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are also antioxidants. One of their benefits is that they relax the blood vessels that supply an erection. Although watermelon is 92 percent water, the other 8 percent may work wonders for your heart and your sexual enjoyment.
Lycopene in Tomatoes and Pink Grapefruit
Lycopene is one of those phytonutrients that is good for circulation and good for sexual issues. Lycopene is found in deep red fruits like tomatoes and pink grapefruits. Some studies show that lycopene may be absorbed best when mixed with oily foods like avocados and olive oil. So you might want to make yourself an ED-fighting salad. Research also shows that antioxidants like lycopene help fight male infertility and prostate cancer.
Foods and Erectile Dysfunction: The Bottom Line
According to Daneshgari, “Your best bet is to eat a healthy diet that is good for your heart and your circulation.” Other foods that are good for your circulation include cranberries, apples, peanuts, onions, tea, and red wine. Chances are, if you take good care of your vascular health, you will avoid many of the common causes of erectile dysfunction.
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Circulation is vital to the health of your entire body. However, we are guessing circulation is not something you find yourself thinking about too often unless you find your feet falling asleep.
However, there are many people who suffer from chronic circulation issues, and for them, thoughts about circulation are almost always there.
Your body is constantly circulating fluids throughout your body, most importantly blood. In fact, about 5 quarts of blood is pumped through your body’s blood vessels every minute, thanks to your heart.
As your blood circulates throughout your body, it delivers oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells and helps get rid of excess waste products in your system.
So, when you have poor circulation, that means your blood isn’t flowing through your system as efficiently, and you can end up suffering from a variety of issues, including numbness (your hands and feet falling asleep).
At some point, we have all dealt with poor blood circulation.
And while your feet falling asleep can be somewhat of a nuisance, it certainly isn’t life-threatening.
However, if your circulation is regularly poor, you are likely facing some issues that are more serious than sleepy feet — including bloating, zapped energy, and fluid retention.
If any of these things sound familiar, then we’ve got just what you need: things that you can do to improve your circulation.
How To Improve Your Circulation
Exercising is beneficial to your body in so many ways. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can:
- Control weight
- Combat health conditions and diseases
- Improve mood
- Boost energy
- Improve sleep
- Boost sex life
- Help you engage socially
- Be a way to have fun
Exercise is a great way to combat your issues with poor blood circulation.
And the best part?
You don’t have to spend hours on the treadmill to see results.
Any exercise that gets your blood pumping will be beneficial, particularly walking.
Once you feel more comfortable moving on to more challenging exercises, you’ll see your circulation improve even more. However, be sure to take your time in progressing to exercises such as running, swimming, biking, etc., and don’t overexert.
2. Get a massage
Just in case you’re looking for another reason to get a massage . . .
Not only can a massage bring you great relaxation and relief from the stresses of your life, but it can also stimulate your body’s blood flow.
According to Massage Envy, massages can speed up your circulation. The pressure that the massage applies to your body has the power to move blood through the areas that are congested.
In addition, once the pressure applied during your massage is released, new blood is able to flow in where it once may not have been able to.
The motions of a massage aid in flushing lactic acid from your muscles, as well as provide better circulation of your body’s lymph fluid.
What does lymph fluid do?
It “carries metabolic waste away from muscles and internal organs, resulting in lower blood pressure and improved body function.”
3. Drink lots of water
Did you know that it is advised you drink half your body weight in ounces of water a day?
Most people are nowhere near that many ounces a day.
It seems as if you’d have to constantly have to be drinking water in order to achieve that.
And you’re probably right.
However, drinking enough water is a great way to combat circulation issues.
Water helps to keep things flowing throughout your body, including the flush of toxins.
4. Drink green tea
In addition to being ripe with antioxidants, green tea can also help improve your blood circulation.
How exactly does it do that?
Green tea works to widen your body’s blood vessels, which gives your blood a chance to more easily flow.
In order to see the benefits of green tea in your circulation, aim to drink 2-3 cups per day.
5. Dry brush your skin daily
Dry brushing is very simple to work into your daily routine and is great for removing dead skin and improving your circulation.
Every morning before you shower, take a dry brush and scrub your skin. But be sure you scrub it correctly.
Yes, there’s a technique to dry brushing your skin: start at your feet and rub in circles up to your heart.
You will see your skin’s surface become incredibly smooth, and you’ll feel your circulation improve.
6. Get rid of stress
Stress is one of the most damaging things you can do to your body. Your body goes completely out of whack when you are stressed — it goes into what is called “fight or flight” mode.
And stress can cause problems with your circulation as well.
However, by finding ways to reduce your stress, you can save your body from a number of issues, including circulation.
Here are some great ways to fight stress:
- Limit caffeine intake
- Chew gum
- Listen to relaxing music
- Spend time with friends and family
7. Cut back on alcohol
Moderate alcohol consumption can be okay for your body, but be sure you know how to define what “moderate” means. For most, that means no more than two drinks.
Drinking any more than that can lead to your arteries hardening, which hinders your body’s ability to let blood flow properly.
8. Elevate your legs
Elevating your legs is a great way to take the pressure off of your veins.
Regularly elevating your legs above your heart comes with a number of benefits, including:
- Better blood circulation
- Reducing swelling in the legs
- Promoting the draining of your veins
Find 20 minutes in your day to elevate your legs, and you will feel a major difference in your circulation.
With just a few minutes of basic stretching a couple of times a day, you can drastically improve your circulation.
Stretching works to increase blood flow to your body’s tissues and organs.
A majority of people spend their days sitting at a desk in the same position, which as you know, can cause a whole slew of problems.
Making an effort to get up regularly, walk around, and stretch can help fight circulation issues, as well as many other problems that result from spending too much time sitting.
Has anyone got tips/ seen research on how to increase blood volume naturally. I have mild POTS.
Water. They always say drink water before a blood test to improve flow.
Thanks. Any other suggestions?
Blood volume is reduced by low salt diets. IF and ONLY IF you are doing this, then your blood volume might be lower than your natural level.
IF you have kidney disease or your doctor has told you to cut down on salt, then, Obviously. Follow what he says.
The natural human response to insufficient salt intake is to reduce blood volume, in order to maintain blood saltiness. The natural consequence of this reduction. is reduced blood pressure. That is the reason low salt diets are promulgated. Unfortunately, it was not realised at the time, our defence mechanism, which tries to conserve our salt, that is hormonal increases, which reduce salt excretion, can cause other problems which increase mortality. A normally healthy human will compensate for excess salt by thirst and consequent excretion. Up to about 6 grams per day of salt (not sodium) is required.
The experiment which discovered the salt/blood pressure link was carried out on rats. They found that by giving the rats a low calcium diet, then reducing salt, they could induce the lowered blood pressure /reduced blood volume.
Probably, none of this applies to you. But, just in case it does. The information is there.
Best of luck
PS. Don’t confuse levels of salt (sodium chloride – NaCl). With sodium. 1 gram of salt contains approx 1/3 gram of sodium.
Drink lots of drinks marked as ‘electrolyte’ rather than just water. These have the right balance of salts to be better absorbed. Most of us don’t really need them unless we’re running across a desert but they might be helpful for you.
A healthy diet, including fish, Greek yogurt, eggs, beef, etc will maintain your albumin levels.
This helps to keep the right balance with your circulating volume.
- Difference Between O Positive & O Negative Blood
- Pros & Cons of Water & Gatorade
- Decrease in pH of Blood Caused by Exercise
- What Are the Three Buffer Systems in Body Fluid?
- Medicinal Herbs for Blood Building
Endurance exercise, such as jogging, swimming and cycling, increases your blood volume over time. Blood-volume adaptations begin after a single bout of exercise and amplify within weeks of training. Enhanced blood volume enhances your exercise performance and cardiovascular fitness.
Blood Volume Defined
Blood volume is composed of red blood cells and blood plasma circulating throughout your body. While red blood cells transport oxygen, blood plasma is a yellowish liquid that carries your red blood cells. Composed mostly of water, blood plasma contains dissolved proteins, hormones and minerals. A typical adult male maintains a blood volume of 5 to 6 L, while females typically have 4 to 5 L of blood. Increased blood volume provides greater amounts of blood to your heart and increases how much blood your heart pumps per beat and per minute.
- Blood volume is composed of red blood cells and blood plasma circulating throughout your body.
- Increased blood volume provides greater amounts of blood to your heart and increases how much blood your heart pumps per beat and per minute.
Blood Plasma and Hormonal Changes
Difference Between O Positive & O Negative Blood
Three factors influence increased blood volume from exercise. For example, cardiovascular exercise boosts the release of anti-diuretic hormone and aldosterone — two hormones that cause your kidneys to retain or reabsorb water. Increased water retention within your kidneys increases blood plasma levels and produces a greater blood volume overall. Generally, plasma volume increases within two to three weeks of endurance training.
- Three factors influence increased blood volume from exercise.
- Generally, plasma volume increases within two to three weeks of endurance training.
Blood Plasma and Changes in Blood Protein
Exercise raises the amount of proteins within your blood plasma. According to the book “Exercise Physiology: Human Bioenergetics and Its Applications” by George A. Brooks, Thomas D. Fahey and Kenneth M. Baldwin, levels of a common blood protein known as albumin increase within your blood plasma within one hour of your first bout of exercise. Greater levels of plasma protein cause water retention within your blood plasma, which results in elevated blood volume.
Red Blood Cell Changes
Pros & Cons of Water & Gatorade
For some individuals, exercise increases the total number of red blood cells within the body. A typical athlete has a greater amount of red blood cells than an individual who does not exercise regularly. Additional red blood cells enhance the transportation of oxygen to working muscles during exercise and increase your blood volume.
Detraining and Blood Volume
Detraining is a loss of fitness from quitting exercise. Like most exercise-induced health benefits, your blood volume reverts to a pre-training level if you stop exercising. You may experience reduced exercise performance after a few weeks without working out. However, you regain an increased blood volume within a few weeks of restarting your workout routine. Consult a doctor before beginning an exercise program.
Blood Plasma volume is critical for performance in endurance athletes. Taking a break from training can rapidly decrease it. But the good news is that you can get back on track in just a few days.
For more training tips check out Ask a Cycling Coach Ep 251.
What is Blood Plasma?
Blood plasma is the liquid component of your blood. A little more than half of your blood is made up of plasma, while the rest is red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Usually, endurance athletes focus on the red blood cells because those are the ones that carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. But plasma plays a vital role in endurance performance.
How Does it Affect Performance?
The more plasma you have, the greater your overall blood volume. This leads to an increased stroke volume with less cardiac effort. With more blood volume, you have a higher VO2 for the same level of effort. Essentially, you have more aerobic power.
Aside from more aerobic power, there are other benefits that come from greater blood volume. It helps reduce lactate accumulation because the extra oxygen leads to less anaerobic respiration. Also, more blood flow to the skeletal muscle can reduce the rate of glycogen depletion. Finally, it helps to lower your core temperature and increase sweat rates due to higher blood flow to the skin. So, the benefits of more blood plasma will significantly improve your endurance performance.
How Fast do Adaptations Fade?
Maybe you’re in a situation where you can’t train for an extended period of time. How fast do these adaptations fade? It’s important to remember that training adaptations or capabilities reduce at different rates. In general, if it develops quickly, it tends to dissipate quickly.
Aerobic endurance diminishes comparatively slowly after about 30 days. This includes things like capillary beds, aerobic enzymes, and mitochondrial content that go hand in hand with aerobic capacity. Likewise, maximum strength is included in this 30-day window due to the time it takes to build your neuromuscular pathways.
Fading in about 15 days is anaerobic and steady-state power. This would be your sweet spot and higher power outputs. Furthermore, in just a handful of days, sprint power and blood plasma volume decreases. The good news is that since it reduces quickly, you can ramp it up rapidly.
How to Increase Blood Plasma Volume?
Changes in plasma volume, up or down, depend on the circumstances. The quickest increase comes via heat exposure. Riding in hot temperatures, turning off the fan during an indoor workout, or jumping in a sauna after, can give you a 4-15% boost in as little as five days. Even better, you can complete a heat acclimation protocol over 7-10 days. This has shown to work in high-level athletes.
Aside from heat acclimatization, you could continue with your endurance training as usual. On its own, endurance training increases your plasma volume. When you train your aerobic system, your core temperature ramps up, and the body responds by increasing blood volume. Even more so, if you keep the fan off. You can also increase the intensity. Tempo, threshold, and VO2 Max work progressively drive the adaptation of more plasma volume.
If you have had to miss out on some training, there is good news. In a short time, you can start to increase your blood plasma. Those first few workouts may be tough, but you’ll get back on track quickly.
For more cycling training knowledge, listen to the Ask a Cycling Coach — the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. New episodes are released weekly.
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Are you wondering how to increase hematocritand reverse anemia? There are many options available!
Red blood cells
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), anemia affects 1.62 billion people all over the world. The NHS defines anemia as when the number of healthy red blood cells in a personвЂ™s blood is lower and smaller than normal. From the WHO statistic, men have the lowest risk of becoming anemic while women of child-bearing age make up the highest number of people affected by this condition.
What is hematocrit?
The hematocrit test measures the percentage and the size of red blood cells in the body. The blood is made up of red blood cells and white blood cells, but the hematocrit test determines the number of red blood cells per volume of blood. If you have anemia and need to know how to increase hematocrit, this test will determine the level of your problem.
How to measure hematocrit
To measure a personвЂ™s hematocrit, the complete blood count (CBC) is used to assess both the hematocrit and the concentration of hemoglobin. The spun crit is another simple way of measuring hematocrit.
What percentage of hematocrit is normal?
If you want to know how to increase hematocrit, you will need to understand what the normal levels are for your age, sex, where you live, pregnancy status, and the testing method you used.
These are the normal hematocrit levels according to age, sex and pregnancy:
Adult men вЂ“ 45-54%
Adult women вЂ“ 38-46%
Pregnant women вЂ“ 36-46%
Men living in high altitudes вЂ“ 46-61%
Women living in high altitudes вЂ“ 41-56%
What does it mean to have a low hematocrit?
If your tests show that your hematocrit is low, it means your red blood cells are lower than the recommended percentage for your age, sex, pregnancy status and location. It also means that you may have anemia.
Since red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to your organs and tissues, low levels mean that your body wonвЂ™t get enough oxygen. This can make you feel tired all the time. In this case, you should talk to your doctor about the condition to find out possible treatment and the dietary changes you need to make.
Causes of low hematocrit
вЂў A decrease in the production of red blood cells from cancer, medication and bone marrow suppression
вЂў Bleeding or hemorrhage from ulcers, menstruation, internal bleeding
вЂў Nutritional issues like iron deficiency and malnutrition
вЂў Not getting enough iron in your diet
Symptoms of low hemoglobin
A complete blood count is the best way to know for sure, but before you get the test, there are other signs and symptoms that should alert you to the problem to include:
вЂў Tiredness or fatigue
вЂў Shortness of breath
вЂў Pica or craving for non-food items like clay, chalk, charcoal, soap
вЂў Cold extremities like hands and feet
вЂў Brittle nails that break easily
вЂў Dry skin and hair
вЂў Sore and swollen tongue
вЂў Heart palpitations
What can you do if you want to know how to increase hematocrit?
1. A lifestyle change
If you want to increase your hematocrit levels, you will need to give up caffeine, chocolates with high caffeine content, and foods that are high in calcium and fibre.
There are studies to back up the claim that athletes have more blood cell volume than non-athletes.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may prescribe some drugs to boost your hematocrit. These medications combat anemia by increasing the bodyвЂ™s ability to produce red blood cells.
If want to know how to increase hematocrit, you should know that some foods can help you get your iron levels back up. But what kinds of foods should you eat?
Iron deficiency is one of the causes of anemia, and to counteract this, youвЂ™ll have to eat foods that contain Vitamin C and iron. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, and thatвЂ™s why you have to eat iron-rich foods like:
Leafy green vegetables
Breakfast cereals fortified with iron
вЂў Foods that contain folate
Folate is a type of vitamin found in foods. It helps in the production of normal red blood cells. To get this vitamin, you should eat beans, whole grains, tomato juice, broccoli, okro, spinach, green leafy vegetables like ugu, orange juice, and asparagus.
вЂў Foods rich in Vitamin B-12
If your low hematocrit is as a result of A vitamin b-12 deficiency, you will need B-12 injections alongside oral supplements. However, a few dietary changes can also go a long way. Food like eggs, red meat, fish, chicken, yoghurt, milk, and breakfast cereals like fortified cornflakes can help boost your hematocrit.
5. Blood transfusion
If you try all the tips on how to increase hematocritand nothing works, you might need a blood transfusion. This procedure can only be done in a medical facility under the supervision of qualified medical personnel.
Final words on how to increase hematocrit
Anemia can lower a personвЂ™s quality of life. But you can overcome this condition by reading this article on how to increase hematocritand following the steps outlined.
- Oct 3, 2002
I really enjoy the posts regarding physiology (BP, etc.). I really eat that stuff up! Thanks to all who take the time for posting such good and lengthy info.
My question is, how does one increase blood volume other than hydration. Is there a formula or ratio of “n” liters per pound of muscle mass? Also, how much impact does blood volume have on freediving over lung capacity? I would worry about carrying too much “oxygen hungry” lean muscle, but does the constricting of the extremities focus this extra blood volume to the vital organs? Is there a down side to too much muscle, such as excessive lactic acid buildup? Could anyone with knowledge on this subject please advise.
- Oct 3, 2002
On blood volume, what I think you are meaning to ask is how do I increase red blood cells/hemoglobin, which is the part of the blood that stores and carries oxygen. Exercise is the number one way to increase red blood cells. If you are at all low in iron or magnesium, they can also be essential to increasing red blood cells.
Now the not so politically correct ways: blood doping and EPO. Blood doping was a complicated procedure where the athlete relocated to a high altitude place, which causes the body to increase red blood cells to offset the effect of less oxygen in the air. While there the athlete would take and store his own blood to be used a few weeks before the competition. If everything was done right, it worked, but even then it was very complicated and expensive for the athlete. A lot of people used to think the reason behind blood doping was to increase volume, but the real reason was to increase hemoglobin.
EPO has made blood doping a thing of the past. EPO is recombinant (man made) erythropoietin which is a normal protein made by the kidneys that stimulates the production of red blood cells. It was developed for anemic patients such as those undergoing chemotherapy, but has been a big hit in the endurance sports since it came out. Have you ever heard the TV ad for Procrit “so I have the strength to do the things I want to do”? – that’s EPO? One side effect that became apparent in the Tour de France was that if the red blood cells % become to large, it thickens the blood and can lead to heart failure. Not good!
Sydney Olympics was the first major sporting event where athletes were tested for it although everyone close to endurance sports new it was being used by most athletes the 10 previous years. The IOC claims it’s test can detect the presence of recombinant EPO, but from what I have heard from athletes the test basically compares the % of red blood cells to a standard that they have estimated is the highest red blood cell % a non-EPO user could obtain. This means that almost everyone monitors their blood and with adjusting their use of EPO, keeps it right below the standard. I’ve heard the main reason the Tour de France started testing was because they didn’t want another death on their hands.
Sorry I got side tracked a bit on your original question. I personal think hemoglobin has a tremendous impact on breath hold length in freediving. I would not worry too much about your amount of lean muscle burning your oxygen. As long as you didn’t take huge amounts of anabolic steroids, the lung expansion, oxygen conversion, and other benefits you get from building the muscle should more than offset any increase use of oxygen from the muscle.
PS I don’t advocate the use of EPO, it’s just you can’t honestly discuss athletes hemoglobin levels without mentioning it since it has such a large and direct effect on it and its use is so prevalent.
Lack of Blood Foods
Blood deficiency is a condition which is associated with the inability of the liver to aid in the process of blood formation. This as per Chinese medicine is referred to as ‘qi stagnation’ and can result in abnormal functioning of the liver and damage to the spleen. The primary causes of blood deficiency are poor diet and inappropriate life style patterns which include consumption of excessive amount of alcohol.
Blood Deficiency Symptoms
There are a wide range of symptoms of blood deficiency associated, as the condition tends to affect the entire body.
- Forgetfulness, poor memory functions
- Shortness of breath and palpitations
- Dizziness and fatigue with excessive tiredness on slightest excretion
- Pale complexion with dry and cracked lips
- Dryness of the mouth
- Headache associated with lightheadedness
- Increased anxiety and apprehension associated with insomnia
- Menstrual irregularities in females
- Tingling and numbness in the limbs
- Tired feeling on getting up in the morning
Diet to Increase Blood Levels
An array of foods help cope up with blood deficiency.
In addition to the foods, there are certain herbs that work to stimulate the liver functions and enhance the production of blood by the liver. These herbs include fleeceflower root, Chinese foxglove root, donkey hide glue, Chinese angelica root and white peony root.