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Can erectile dysfunction (impotence) be managed with the right foods?

People tell me that one prominent problem men face is erectile dysfunction (ED). Not many people know, but erectile dysfunction is often a vascular issue (Reisner & Reisner, 2016). Last week in a meeting with a manager from a local company, it was said that several of their male clients see themselves suffering from ED early in their lives. The profile that I was given was that these patients are usually overweight. That is not surprising since the factors that contribute to the development of ED are diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, a sedentary lifestyle, and cigarette smoking, to name a few (Gaby, 2017).

Metabolic syndrome plays a role in erectile dysfunction. According to Rakel, obesity (marked by a higher than 30 BMI) doubles the risk of erectile dysfunction. It is interesting to observe that one of the issues with metabolic syndrome is that hypertension (high blood pressure) is one the factor. Certain medications given to improve blood pressure make the problem of ED worse (Rakel, 2018).

What are the opportunities for improvement with nutrition? Overall, research has shown that adopting a healthy eating pattern can diminish the risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, and hypertension. A small study published in 2021 has demonstrated that men who adopted a plant-based diet reduced the presence of erectile dysfunction and decreased its severity (Lu et al., 2021).

A more extensive study published in 2022 has demonstrated that a well-implemented plant-based diet is associated with a lower risk of having erectile dysfunction (Carto et al., 2022). But a plant-based diet is not the only tool in a clinical nutritionist’s toolbox to manage erectile dysfunction. Because of its impact on cardiovascular disease, a Mediterranean diet can also be helpful (Rakel, 2018). Regardless of the nutritional therapy intervention selected, there is much evidence pointing to food choices in improving male health overall and their ability to enhance sexual performance. Ask your local clinical nutritionist what your options are! You won’t regret it!

Carto, C., Pagalavan, M., Nackeeran, S., Blachman-Braun, R., Kresch, E., Kuchakulla, M., & Ramasamy, R. (2022). Consumption of a Healthy Plant-based Diet is Associated With a Decreased Risk of Erectile Dysfunction: A Cross-sectional Study of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Urology, 161, 76–82. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.urology.2021.12.021

Gaby, A. (2017). Nutritional medicine (2nd ed.).

Lu, Y., Kang, J., Li, Z., Wang, X., Liu, K., Zhou, K., Wang, W., & Shen, C. (2021). The association between plant-based diet and erectile dysfunction in Chinese men. Basic and Clinical Andrology, 31(1), 11. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12610-021-00129-5

Rakel, D. (2018). Integrative medicine.

Reisner, Emily., & Reisner, Howard. (2016). Crowley’s An Introduction to Human Disease. Jones & Bartlett Learning; https://public.ebookcentral.proquest.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=4714315

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