Originally published November 6 2013
The importance of nutrition and sexual health
by Lisa S. Lawless, Ph.D.
(NaturalNews) Sexual health is dramatically impacted by one's nutritional intake, and many sexual problems can be addressed by simple changes made to one's diet. The first step is understanding that your general health and sexual functioning are interrelated, as is your physical, mental and emotional health.
While we have come a long way, society is still in need of research and education when it comes to sexual health. Sexual health pioneers such as Alfred Kinsey, William Masters and Virginia Johnson offered groundbreaking education in the field of sexuality; sexual health is still not as integrated into medical education as it should be for doctors. In addition, sexual health is not well unified with holistic approaches. This is yet another reason why it is important for the public to be educated about how we impact our sexuality through our diet, exercise and behavior and what healthy sexual resources are available.
Overcoming the limited mindset of western medicine
There are two major problems regarding the effective treatment of sexual health issues. First, western medicine tends to focus primarily on the treatment of only medically necessary solutions, meaning that it is only until a patient is ill that assistance is given. Furthermore, when a physical problem is addressed, the emphasis is often on treating the symptoms of a disease rather than the root cause.
Over the last century, there has slowly been an increase in the awareness of medical practitioners to increase patient education in regard to the importance of nutrition and the connection of the physical, mental and emotional components of one's life; however, there needs to be a great deal more. The need for preventative education and care is quite important and should be provided in order to focus on healthcare from a wellness model rather than diseases and symptoms.
Second, sexual health issues are not often linked to general health conditions that are caused by poor nutrition and lack of activity. Rarely will nutrition be examined, which is a problem, as it is a major factor in most illnesses. Many physicians simply provide prescription medications to address symptoms rather than helping the patient to explore helpful education that may promote natural, nutritional and physical lifestyle changes that address the core issue. After all, when one's diet affects things such as hormone levels, energy levels, mental health and physical and sexual performance, one must question why this is not the first area that is explored in addressing these issues instead of a prescription drug.
When patients become part of the problem
In addition, many patients themselves have become unmotivated to make changes to their diet and exercise. This enables both those in the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry to continue the status quo of the overprescription of medications that may address symptoms but often neglects the root cause of the problem. Furthermore, the medications can cause a slew of unwanted and unhealthy side effects further complicating health issues.
It is imperative for one to understand that not taking care of one's nutritional needs may not just cause general health and sexual health problems temporarily but also cause permanent damage and chronic disease. A little effort every day can make the difference between a long, healthy and sexually fulfilling life and a life that is riddled with health problems including the inability to have sex.
How to gauge your nutritional intake
Understanding how much of the proper nutrients you are consuming as well as how well your body is utilizing those nutrients is a very good place to start, not just for your health in general but for your sexual health as well.
One way to do this is to do a calculation of what you consume in general on a daily basis. Measuring portions and looking at what vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you are consuming on an average day can help you determine if you need to increase consumption of some of those nutrients.
Using nutrition labels and online nutrition calculators can help you compare the total percentage of each vitamin and mineral you take in based on the daily recommended values. There are two helpful charts found in this PDF file provided by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies here (make sure to scroll all the way down for both charts):
The easiest way to ascertain your nutritional information with certainty is to go to a local lab and have a micronutrient blood panel done. It does not require a doctor's visit, and the cost is typically around $350 - $400. A blood panel such as this will measure the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, metabolites, antioxidants and other essential nutrients in your blood. The reason that blood work is such a great way to assess your nutritional health is because in some cases, while you may be taking in the right nutrients, your body may not be processing them properly, and it is a helpful diagnostic tool in examining your overall health.
Nutrient deficiencies cause disease and affect sexual health
The majority of sexual health problems can be improved and in some cases cured through good nutrition and exercise. With diseases that contribute to sexual dysfunction, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, poor blood flow, heart and thyroid conditions, it is easy to see how the vicious cycle begins.
Keep in mind that proper nutrition through food and supplements that are customized for your health needs can impact hormone levels, blood flow, libido and more. These all not only contribute to your health in general but also directly impact sexual functioning. Therefore, taking the time to research your nutritional needs and/or meet with an appropriate health practitioner such as a holistic health doctor or nutritionist can be helpful in taking steps to achieve a long and happy life filled with great sex.
For a list of foods that assist with sexual health, here is a helpful guide:
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