Getting your libido up is a complex game. Nutritional deficiencies, stress and low mood can all contribute to a low sex drive, as can the declining hormone profile that most people encounter with age. Getting your mojo back is not as simple as having a few super foods to help you on your way.
The secret is often to think about the body as a whole. You need to be simultaneously supporting hormone production, blood flow, stress levels and brain health, which will almost certainly affect your mood. It’s also important to note that deeper underlying medical conditions can play a role in a low sex drive. As ever with matters of the body, it’s always best to consult with your doctor in case of concern.
Тop tips for boosting the libido …
1. Zinc rich foods
Aphrodisiac foods such as oysters and fruits representing fertility symbols may have a poetic ring to them, but do they actually have an effect on your libido?
The answer is possibly. Oysters are rich in zinc, which helps the body to produce hormones such as testosterone – a key component in getting (and keeping) you in the mood. However, the great problem with oysters is that they’re not exactly an everyday staple: you need a good local supply and a fair amount of disposable income if you’re going to dine out on oysters every night. The good news is that zinc can also be found in many other foods such as beef, lamb, spinach, nuts and seeds.
Zinc also helps to increase sperm production, so it’s an important mineral for fertility too!
2. Foods for healthy blood flow
A healthy blood flow can do wonders for your libido by increasing circulation to your sexual organs. Foods that increase circulation include garlic, chilli peppers and ginger. They contain allicin, which dilates blood vessels and thins the blood.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish also help to thin the blood and increase elasticity of blood vessels, allowing for easier blood flow.
So, baked salmon with a spicy chilli garlic sauce makes for the perfect recipe to get your blood flowing.
3. Brain foods to put you in the mood
Having a high libido is not just about optimising your body’s physical performance, but is also very closely related to brain health. Put simply, it’s hard to get your libido up when you’re stressed about unsexy things like work.
Your brain is a very complex network of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, which can influence whether you feel sad, happy or motivated. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine can give you feelings of well-being by heightening your mood, and require good quality protein to operate. Omega-3 fatty acids also help here.
Keep up intake of foods such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese, yogurt, pulses, nuts and seeds. If you feel that you do not get enough protein in your diet, consider adding whey protein to home made smoothies.
4. Don’t stress out your body
Stress is not just something in your mind, but it is a physical reaction to your surroundings. When you are stressed, you release hormones such as cortisol, which can reduce your libido. This reaction to stress is our body’s protective mechanism to prevent reproduction in times of danger.
In modern times we simply have too much stress on a constant basis, which makes the constant release of cortisol very hard to overcome. It may be hard to completely change your lifestyle to reduce stress, but the first step you can make is to reduce foods that increase the production of stress hormones. Refined carbohydrates such as white bread and sugar are the biggest culprits, causing a roller coaster of hormones which loads your body with stress and reduces both libido and fertility.
Choose slower releasing complex carbohydrates such as wholegrains, fruits and vegetables.
5. Dark chocolate
The way women obsess over chocolate could have some logical cause. Cocoa contains a host of beneficial compounds such as antioxidants called flavonoids, a high iron content, and much, much more. Most importantly, it contains phenylethylamine, which gives a stimulating effect and releases the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in the brain (see point 4).
Unfortunately, the chocolate you buy from the supermarkets is filled with sugar, so its health benefits are minimal. Instead, you want the very dark stuff: 85pc cocoa is a good mark to aim for. Once you get used to eating this (often quite bitter) food, try adding 100pc cocoa powder to hot oat milk for a healthy hot chocolate.
And finally … a word on exercise
Resistance training can have a large influence on hormone levels. The key is to perform big compound movements with heavy weights in a relatively low rep range (5-10). This is the perfect environment for stimulating your natural testosterone and production of growth hormone.
Try to find the balance between deliberate overload and overtraining. The former will have you making great strides in your workouts with optimal hormone levels, and the latter could leave your libido on the floor due to a lack of recovery.