The Therapist ● Food and Libido ● Article
by Joana Teixeira on Feb 04, 2021
Loss of libido (or appetite / sexual desire) is a condition that can affect many men and women at some point in their lives. If it happens, it is essential to identify the triggers that trigger this problem and treat the root of it, whether it be emotional or pathophysiological.
From the point of view of food, we can work multidisciplinarly, in order to optimize some dysfunctions, which may be contributing to the loss of libido:
- Intestine and nutrients - the intestine is responsible for the absorption of nutrients necessary for the production of hormones. An unhealthy intestine is synonymous with impaired absorption, which may be the cause of vitamin and mineral deficits, such as zinc, magnesium, iron, which contribute to the correct production of sex hormones and which, in turn, are responsible for sexual health and libido. It is recommended:
- Assess gastrointestinal health and intervene in improving digestion (if it is impaired) with changes in dietary pattern, teas and adequate and individualized supplementation.
- Optimize the microbiota with a diet rich in fiber (fruits, vegetables, seeds, oilseeds, whole grains, legumes). Include probiotics in the diet (miso, kombucha, fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables) and / or consider the need for supplementation with probiotics together with the nutritionist.
- Biochemical Profile - If, on the one hand, “the clinic is sovereign” and the signs and symptoms are the starting point for adequate research and treatment, be it from a nutritional point of view, or from a medical point of view, to understand what is happening in our acting accordingly is essential. Therefore, analyzing markers such as cholesterol (precursor to testosterone, estrogen and progesterone), iron (meat, fish and seafood, legumes such as soy, lentils, egg, dark green leaves), zinc (oysters, seafood, legumes, oilseeds, whole grains), magnesium (dark green leaves, legumes like pumpkin and sunflower seeds), vitamin D (fatty fish, egg yolk), thyroid hormones, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, can do sense to understand the best strategy and whether it is pertinent to resort to supplementation. In this area, it should be noted that there are no miracle “blue pills”. However, we know that some supplements appear to be effective:
- Zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamin D, whenever their levels are below desirable, since they are key nutrients for the body to be able to produce hormones correctly.
- Tribulus terrestris has been shown to produce significant improvements in men with erectile dysfunction and women in the peri-menopause period.
- Fenugreek, a spice widely used in Indian cuisine, has been extensively studied and has shown to have interesting effects on sexual health, in various situations and ages. With regard to libido, studies have shown positive effects in women both inside and outside menopause. It can be used in the preparation of meals, in the form of infusion or supplemented.
- Ashwagandha, an adaptogen widely used in Ayurveda. Adaptogens are herbs, which contain phytonutrients that help regulate metabolism when there is a disorder, and participate in its regulation process. Ashwagandha has shown positive results with respect to hormonal regulation, stress modulation and nervous system. Associated with exercise, it showed a potentially interesting effect on male testosterone elevation.
- stress, anxiety, fatigue, sleep deprivation - certainly, a busy day-to-day, full of worries, anxieties, stress and few hours of sleep (or with little restful sleep) will have an impact not only on the way we feel but also on the functioning of our body, absorption of nutrients and adequate synthesis of hormones. Looking for stress management tools (physical activity, meditation, therapy, etc.) can be a good initial strategy to see improvements. Adequate and individualized supplementation can also be beneficial, in justified cases, to reduce anxiety (aswhaganda and relora), improve sleep quality (chamomile, passionflower, magnesium and melatonin) and reduce fatigue.