Society and pop culture has made us obsessed with our penises. Our shlong’s presence, size, and how much “activity” it gets all seem to contribute to our sense of self-worth and sexual prowess. So, it’s no surprise that the looming threat of erectile dysfunction is anxiety-inducing for many.
According to the British Association of Urological Surgeons, erectile dysfunction becomes increasingly common with age and affects 50-55% of men aged between 40 and 70 years old. There’s also not one singular cause of impotence. The condition could be caused by several factors, including underlying health conditions, lifestyle, psychological issues, and as a side effect of many medications.
ED is also commonly associated with high blood pressure as it can damage the artery walls, causing them to harden and narrow, ultimately reducing blood flow to the penis. But, instead of reaching for Viagra or Spanish flies like the Ancient Greeks, studies have identified a much easier preventative measure: a Mediterranean diet.
Studies show a Mediterranean diet could lower blood pressure
Research was recently presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2021, supporting claims that the Mediterranean diet could improve blood pressure and cardiovascular health, reducing the risks of ED.
Author of the study Athanasios Angelis explained in a statement: ‘In our study, consuming a Mediterranean diet was linked with better exercise capacity, healthier arteries and blood flow, higher testosterone levels, and better erectile performance.’
It seems plausible that this dietary pattern may improve fitness and erectile performance by enhancing function of the blood vessels and limiting the fall in testosterone that occurs in midlife.
The Mediterranean diet is full of healthy fats like nuts and olive oil, fruit vegetables, whole grains, fish and a limited amount of dairy and red meats. Previous studies have also linked the diet to a reduced risk of diabetes and an increased life span with few adverse health effects.
The study, published in the European Society of Cardiology, involved 250 middle-aged men with both erectile dysfunction and high blood pressure. Researchers analysed subjects for diet, exercise capacity, testosterone, vascular health and the intensity of their erectile dysfunction.
Results showed that sticking to a Mediterranean diet was associated with better blood flow, higher testosterone levels, fewer instances of erectile dysfunction and reduced severity of the condition.
Angelis continued: ‘The findings suggest that the Mediterranean diet could play a role in maintaining several parameters of vascular health and quality of life and in middle-aged men with hypertension and erectile dysfunction.’
If you have erectile dysfunction, don’t hesitate to see a doctor
While the study shows promising results, it should also be taken with a grain of salt as it showed just a correlation between diet and erectile dysfunction, not necessarily a causal link.
Taking on a healthier diet and exercising regularly is good for your health regardless. But remember, erectile dysfunction isn’t exclusive to blood pressure and can be caused by a whole range of ailments. So, if you believe you may be suffering from impotence, then it’s best to book an appointment with your healthcare provider to narrow down any concerns.
Pop culture has continuously ridiculed men for issues with their downstairs, so much so that 44% of men with ED over 40 neglect to seek medical treatment. Often ED concerns can even spill over and affect both mental health and relationships. However, erectile dysfunction is common and can be a helpful indicator of a larger issue. Not to mention it’s often treatable.