Food Can Affect Your Sex Life

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PETA claims vegans make better lovers. Perfect Keto states following a ketogenic diet can improve your sex drive. 


From the research I’ve done, it seems what a person eats is important to overall body effect, reaction, and ultimately, sexual response.


Let’s explore how your diet may be affecting your sex life! 


Are there diets that are more conducive for sex?

Research is finding there is a direct correlation between dietary fat and hormones. So, yes, certain diets can affect a person’s sex drive and sexual responses.


A study has found eating a diet high in fat can increase estrogen, considered to be a sex hormone in both men and women. The keto diet, which advocates a high fat, low carbohydrate meal plan, may actually help elevate a person’s sexual desire. 


A 2020 study surveyed 500 omnivores (people who eat food of both plant and animal origin) and 500 vegetarians, found vegetarians are having better, more fulfilling sexual encounters. This same study found vegetarians were friskier than meat-eaters with dirty talk enjoyed by 48 percent of vegetarians compared to 35 percent of meat-eaters, and 26 percent of vegetarians and 15 percent of meat-eaters taking pleasure in bondage experiences. 


However, since blood flow is so keenly linked to sexual response throughout the body, vegans win when it comes to food that affects sex. Vegan foods, which include aphrodisiac foods, such as cayenne pepper and dark chocolate, as well as leafy greens, figs, pumpkin seeds, and almonds, may help increase blood circulation, leading to a much better change of overall sexual arousal.  


Vegetarian vs. Vegan

The Vegan Society defines veganism as “a way of living, which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of and cruelty to animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.” While the Vegetarian Society says vegetarians are people who do not eat the products or byproducts of animal slaughter.


A report published in The Sociological Review defined vegetarianism on a scale ranging from least strict to most strict resulting in six types. The first type includes people characterizing themselves as vegetarians, although they occasionally consume meat. While the second type of vegetarians avoid the consumption of meat, the third type also excludes fish, and the fourth type removes eggs from their diet. Type five vegetarians avoid the consumption of dairy products, while type six vegetarians (also called vegans) consume solely plant-based foods. 


No matter where a vegetarian is on that five-level scale, it appears that plant-based diets may be more beneficial for healthy sex lives. 


How can a Plant-based Diet help your Sex Life? 

A plant-based diet may give you more energy because of its reduced digestion time. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vegetarians digest food 24 hours faster than non-vegetarians. This may lead to more energy being available to the body at any given time in comparison to a non-vegetarian—which can make vegetarians better prepared to enjoy a sexual romp at a moments notice. 


It is also known that various chemical compounds are found in plants which enhance erections. For example, Harvard Health reports that bananas are high in potassium, which helps in the production of sex hormones and can boost energy. A 2011 study found that an amino acid found in watermelon, called citrulline, increases blood flow to erectile tissue and Medical News Today states watermelon may be a viable substitute for Viagra.


Another study reported in Nutrition Journal, indicates the restriction of meat, fish, and poultry improves mood. Being in a happy mood may make people more apt to want to participate in sexual encounters. 


Can meals make you sleepy instead of sexy?

It’s quite possible that a meal can make you want to go to bed to nap instead of have sex. 


We’ve all had that feeling after a turkey meal, right? Turkey allegedly causes drowsiness because it is packed with a nutrient called tryptophan


But sometimes it’s the amount of food that can cause a problem. I believe a person shouldn’t eat too much before sex because it might make them lethargic. But, they shouldn’t eat so lightly that they feel weak or faint during sex. My rule of thumb would be this—eat less of heavier foods and more of lighter fare. 


Keep in mind that a full stomach may impede pleasure because your body will most likely be focusing on digestion and not on the many functions and feelings associated with sex. 


There is little research on blood flow servicing the stomach and genitals simultaneously. My gut feeling? As men age, their blood flow becomes weaker. For men over 60, age can significantly slow blood flow capacity, which can make full erections difficult. So, I would say that the body is strategic with blood flow and digestion could impact the quality of a person’s sex play. 


For my patients, I often recommend having sex before dinner dates because the body automatically goes into digestion mode after a meal, leaving little energy towards responding to sexual arousal. It’s funny because so many people believe that sex should take place after a meal, almost as if the meal itself is a sort of foreplay. But many people will find themselves feeling lethargic after dinner. 


One possible problem is that people will choose a dinner based on what message they want to convey to their partner. For many, a hearty homecooked meal or a comfort food feast equals love. This is what many people are raised to believe. When their family wanted to share love with them, they made a meal that was sure to please, satisfy, and ultimately leave them feeling full and wanting a good night’s rest. This means, many people today may feel that a light meal does not convey their romantic feelings.


What do I recommend? While it’s truly wonderful to feed your love, and lover, there are particular foods that can help lovemaking. 


Instead of partaking in an entire meal with multiple courses, consider having a charcuterie plate or light salad to allow for energy but not an over satiated feeling. This will allow for bodies to quickly respond to sexual cues and not have to divert heavy blood flow to the stomach for digestion. 


Tip: Eating s-l-o-w-e-r can also help because it gives your body time to register that its full, so a person is less likely to overeat. 


Choose Your Food Wisely

For my patients, I ask that they try to avoid gassy foods. While a limited number of people actually have sensitive stomachs that are prone to bloating, almost everyone can benefit from avoiding foods that may cause bloat. Especially if they’re planning on a romantic romp. 


Hands down, beans are the gassiest food group. Please, avoid legumes in all forms if you’re on a date. Next, I would caution against carbonated beverages. Not only do they form intestinal gas, they cause your body to feel full, which can make a person want to be lazy. Laziness does not lead to a good sexual experience. 


Also, try to steer clear of dairy products. Almost 75% of the world suffers from some degree of lactose intolerance. So even if you love dairy and believe your body can handle it, your body may actually be struggling to digest it. This can lead to you feeling sluggish and unable to physically commit to sexual relations. 


So, what foods do work best for a romantic liaison? Actually, foods thought of as aphrodisiacs work unusually well. Most are light, easy on the stomach, and enticingly flavorful. Perhaps this is how aphrodisiacs came to be. 


Oysters, strawberries, chocolate, and honey are all believed to amp sexual desire, but are also less apt to cause bloating or dietary issues. An ideal pre-sex meal should definitely incorporate lighter fare—and an including an aphrodisiac or two wouldn’t hurt. 


Can food and eating be incorporated into the act of sex? 

Who hasn’t watched, and appreciated, the movie 9½ Weeks with its sexy food-laden scene acted out in front of a refrigerator? 


Of course, food can be incorporated into sex play. However, there are some foods that should be avoided. Any types of sugar near the vaginal region has the potential to cause a possible yeast infection. And hot chilies, while considered another type of aphrodisiac, can be harmful to mucous membrane areas, such as the rectum and urethra. 


Again, I would recommend going with trusty aphrodisiac foods first. Strawberries, chocolates, and cherries, which are easily fed to lovers, are all good bets—and can elevate lusty sexual arousal as well. 


But to make your edible experience erotic and safe, I recommend looking for pleasure products specifically made to bring a tasty treat to your sex play. There are edible massage oils, candles, lubricants, and even tasty pasties. These are all created to specifically bring the sense of taste into your sex life. 


Exploring all your senses during sex can heighten the overall experience. I suggest you consider adding an edible pleasure product to your sex play and see how taste can be a truly sensual experience. 


What foods make you feel sexier? Does food impact your own sexual desire? I would love to hear from you! Please share your stories and experiences with me. And, if you have any questions, I’m always here to help. 

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Dr. Sunny Rodgers is a clinician, author, and speaker who has worked in the wellness industry since 2000. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, a Master of Arts in Clinical Sexology, and is an accredited Sexual Health Educator. She is the Founder of The Institute of Intimate Health, an Ambassador for the American Sexual Health Association, regular lecturer for the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Sexual Confidence Coach for the Marigold App, and a professional Sex Toy Concierge™. Rodgers hosted a popular weekly show on Playboy Radio, has been an expert guest on several TV and radio programs, and is a regular contributor to HuffPost, Men's Health, Cosmo, Bustle, and many more publications.