by Jo Murphy
Sex and food go together like avocado and toast… or so you’d think. What you eat has a huge impact on your ability to climax; so if your gut is out of whack, it’s likely your sex life will be too. Your digestive system is almost a second brain — whatever you feed it will inform the way you feel. No matter how horny you are, your gut health will be critical to the quality of your orgasm.
The Gut-Brain Connection
Known as the enteric nervous system (as opposed to the central nervous system), the gastrointestinal tract is lined by millions of nerve cells that allow it to communicate with the brain 24/7. This tract runs all the way from your throat to your butt, and controls every stage of digestion from the way you absorb nutrients to how frequently you poop.
All kinds of hormones and neurotransmitters travel between your two brains, but some actually originate in the gut, including the vast majority of your serotonin supplies. Gamma-Aminobutyric acid, which controls feelings of fear and anxiety, is also produced in the same place. This is a major sexual brake. So a happy gut can be a big contributing factor to a happy life, especially your sex life.
The Gut-Orgasm Connection
Keris Marsden is a Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist and co-founder of Fitter Food. She explains, “Hormones act like a symphony within the body. If just one of them is off-kilter, they will all be impacted.”
Some of the hormones needed to regulate blood sugar, for example, are actually contained in the gut. If this mechanism isn’t working properly, it will cause insulin levels to spike. In turn, this impacts the reproductive hormones needed for the body’s sexual functions.” So if something goes wrong in the gut, your whole system knows about it.
What’s more, you need a fully functioning digestive system to get rid of any extra hormones that may be kicking about. “If the gut isn’t healthy, excess hormones get backed up and eventually recycled around the body. This can lead to estrogen dominance in women, which causes heavier periods, weight gain and breast pain.” An unhappy gut could also cause bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and stinky breath. Talk about passion killers.
Eat Your Way to Better Sex
Sadly there isn’t any one specific food that will drastically improve your gut health or sex life, but a diet that covers all nutritional bases will help to turn up the heat. The right combination of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbs (keep them whole, not refined) will help to regulate hormones, manage your moods, boost energy levels, and even improve blood flow to your sex organs.
Cutting out sugars and processed foods will also help since they’re known to aggravate the gut. Most of all, however, you’ll want to up your fiber. As unsexy as it sounds, fiber is crucial when it comes to gathering up and pooping out excess hormones. Try some chia seeds, flaxseeds, beans, and whole grains — no, they’re not exactly aphrodisiacs, but “erotic” foods are a little overrated anyway.
Are Aphrodisiacs A Thing?
“Many women tell me the biggest aphrodisiac for them is wine,” says Keris. “That’s probably because it helps them to relax, and women are more prone to worry and anxiety. That said, foods high in zinc impact the body’s ability to produce testosterone in both men and women.” This not only turns up the dial on the female libido, it’s also necessary for the development of semen. Zinc-rich foods include seafood — the obvious choice being oysters — and red meat.
Other known aphrodisiacs have earned their name simply by enhancing overall nutrition rather than specifically boosting sex drive. Asparagus, for example, is a good source of the vitamin E needed to stimulate the production of sex hormones. Pomegranate (known as the love apple) is high in anti-oxidants that boost blood flow and increase genital sensitivity. Foods high in omega 3, such as salmon, do the same.
Bananas contain high levels of potassium, which delivers muscle strength. This, in theory, could intensify orgasms. Watermelon contains citrulline, an amino acid that relaxes the blood vessels in a similar way to Viagra. Ginger and ginseng also increase circulation, and the list could go on. Yet there are some foods that do have a specific impact on sexual function.
Food and Sexual Function
Apples can increase vaginal lubrication according to a study carried out in Italy. The fruit consists of polyphenols and antioxidants that help stimulate blood flow. More exciting, however, is the fact that apples contain a compound that mimics the major female sex hormone, estradiol, which is vital to your ability to get wet. So, try eating an apple a day and see what happens…
Men can get a nutritional sex boost too, especially if you’re suffering with mild erectile dysfunction. Pumpkins, peanuts, pork loin, chicken, and turkey all contain arginine. You can also take it as a supplement, known as L-arginine. This amino acid helps to create nitric oxide in the body. In turn, this supports your ability to get (and stay) hard by helping the blood vessels to relax. This means more oxygen-rich blood can get where it needs to go.
The Orgasm-Gut Connection
The body knows what it’s doing. While a better diet leads to better sex, more orgasms also lead to a healthier gut. When you climax, your circulation increases, and this helps to distribute nutrients and hormones where they are needed. Regular orgasm also reduces stress, and lowers cortisol and blood pressure, which can only do good things to your immune system.
More than that, the oxytocin released when you climax has the equivalent effect of a Superfood. Oxytocin receptors in the gut can actually help to counteract any inflammation you may be experiencing — but, says Keris, sometimes all it takes is a hug. “When you see a face you know and love, or when you really hug someone you care for, you feel safe and happy so your body releases oxytocin.”
“Research has shown that people who feel socially isolated experience more inflammation because their nervous system remains in fight or flight mode more often. But if they bond with someone, and their body creates oxytocin, this will have an anti-inflammatory impact. So the more quality time you have with someone, and the more sex you have, the stronger your immune system becomes.” And the happier your gut becomes too.
Cook Together for Better Sex
Creating the right environment is everything. Find ways to engage all the senses and get the oxytocin flowing, even before you take your clothes off. “Creating a sensory environment can change your physiology, and the way your body responds to another person,” says Keris.
“Cooking together is foreplay. It relaxes the mind, increases blood flow, and prepares the body for what’s to come.” Light candles, burn essential oils, choose soft lighting, and play music. Get tactile by feeding each other tasters with your fingers, caress each other’s bodies, and embrace the opportunity to let your lover know how much you want them.
Finally, make sure your menu doesn’t include any passion killers — like refined carbohydrates, too much sugar or fried food — and be sure to include ingredients you both enjoy since bickering about them is counterintuitive. You will also want to keep the meal light. Eat enough to satiate your gut’s appetite, but not so much it dampens your sexual appetite.
“Most of all, don’t leap into the sex,” adds Keris. “You can afford to take your time”. Yes, you can afford to make a meal of it.