Often, we worry about what foods to avoid. While it’s true that you should steer clear of certain foods, especially as your metabolism slows with age, the good news is that by focusing on the healthy foods you should eat, you can improve not only your health but also your sex life! When you focus on the positive and add a few of these items to your regular diet, you may just find your self-confidence, your health, and your sex life reinvigorated.
The Simple Truth
One reason to focus on healthy foods as you get older is that it is simply a lot easier to operate smoothly and vigorously in bed if you’re not carrying around a twenty-pound belt of blubber. But even more important is your perception of your body. Maintaining a healthy body weight encourages self-confidence and promotes a healthy and positive outlook on life.
Low-Fat, Low-Cal, Low-Carb, and Low-Glycemic
You probably already know the importance of limiting calories, carbs, and fats. But if you really want to keep the weight off, you might want to focus on the glycemic index, a measure of how quickly foods are digested. High-glycemic foods cause a surge in blood sugar, followed by a crash. This biologic reaction releases hormones that stimulate hunger, lower metabolism, and make it difficult to both lose and maintain weight.
If making your diet low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb, and low-glycemic sounds overwhelming, don’t worry—it can be simple. The key is to start eating more fruits and veggies. When it comes to carbs, choose those with a lower glycemic index: brown rice versus white, whole-grain pasta rather than regular pasta, and steel-cut oats instead of quick-cooking oats. Avoid processed foods like white bread, white rice, breakfast cereals, and crackers, all of which have a high glycemic index.
Natural foods—like most vegetables and fruits, nuts, beans, and whole grains—wind their way slowly through the body’s digestive system, using up more energy and burning more calories in the process than high-glycemic foods do.
Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Excess fat, especially the fat around your torso, has been associated with an increased risk of many diseases. Excess body fat can break down normal tissue and weaken your body’s defenses against cancer and other diseases, which is why incorporating antioxidants and anti-inflammatory elements in a diet low in saturated fat and high in fiber may also help people over fifty maintain their sexual prowess and deter the development and progression of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and (in men) prostate cancer, all of which can damage sexual functioning.
Many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances can be found in fruits and vegetables of color (such as deep red tomatoes, dark green spinach, and rich orange carrots), as well as in whole grains (whole wheat, quinoa, brown rice) and spices. Keeping your diet focused around fresh fruits and vegetables, ocean-caught fish (a great source of unsaturated fat), and whole grains—rather than processed foods that rely on sugar, salt, and fat for flavor—will have many benefits as you age.
Tomato-based pastas, soups, and juices can increase levels of the beneficial antioxidant lycopene. Pomegranate juice and green and black tea can increase levels of antioxidants containing polyphenols. Vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, bok choy, wasabi mustard, and horseradish all contain substances that may increase levels of protective proteins in your liver and body tissues, while vitamins, minerals, extracts of fruits and vegetables, herbs, and spices can all act against both oxidation and inflammation.
Never Too Late for Change
It has long been a truism that you are what you eat. Just as poor food choices can negatively impact your sex life and your health, making some simple changes to your diet can significantly improve these areas—and it’s never too late to start. Tonight, try substituting fresh fruit in place of that sugary dessert, and trade your flame-broiled burger for a healthful protein source such as beans or soy. You just might like it!
Dudley Seth Danoff, MD, FACS, is president and founder of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Tower Urology Group in Los Angeles, a Diplomate of the American Board of Urology, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and the author of The Ultimate Guide to Male Sexual Health.