Uh-oh. Right now, we are quite literally stuck with ‘him indoors’ — or her — and no other source of social life. And it’s too cold to get away from each other by pottering around the garden for an afternoon. Help!
But what if, instead of seeing this as time to just get through without plotting divorce, you decided to invest the time into reviving your relationship? What if you could swerve all the potential tension and frustration of enforced togetherness and instead improve the most intimate part of it? And get healthy, too?
I’m a sexual health therapist, and over years of treating couples who come to me with all kinds of problems — from mismatched libidos to performance anxiety to physical dysfunction — I’ve discovered what I think is the secret to turbo-charging a partnership.
It combines two of most people’s favourite pastimes and it’s all done at home either in the kitchen or the bedroom.
Sexual health therapist Christine DeLozier, revealed how some natural foods can improve your sex life (file image)
I’m talking about a Sex Diet. And I don’t just mean using chocolate and strawberries in interesting ways, though no judgment, go for it, but something much more scientific than that. The fact is, what we eat directly affects our ability to have good sex.
Partly, yes, it’s about having more energy, and a body you love — that’s bound to make sex better. But a sex diet doesn’t just mean losing a few pounds around the midriff. It’s about improving the very quality of the sex we have by regulating and boosting libido and increasing the power of our orgasms. Did you know that some natural foods can improve physical performance within a couple of hours?
This means there are quite literally ‘sex foods’. Some foods increase levels of a molecule called nitric oxide, for example, which causes what’s called vasodilation, or the widening of blood vessels. When we eat them, our arteries deliver more blood to our sex organs for a better night of lovemaking.
Of course, a handful of walnuts or a green salad at lunchtime won’t necessarily provide an instant Viagra-like boost. But the right food can undoubtedly improve performance over time, leading to superior, sustained sex in the long run. It’s better than popping a pill because it’s natural, with no negative side-effects and plenty of good ones in terms of overall health, weight loss and anti-ageing benefits.
Indeed, food can be the best sex therapy we’ll ever find.
So let’s use this time to get creative in the kitchen and in bed, and make the most of our time at home in every, ahem, possible way . . .
STRENGTHEN LIBIDO WITH SPINACH
Christine recommends leafy greens such as spinach, kale and lettuce to restore balance to the hormones affecting sex (file image)
As unsexy as it might sound, leaves are probably the single best thing you can put in your body for great sex.
Leafy greens restore balance to the hormones affecting sex, such as cortisol, which is induced by stress and is a major libido-killer. Cortisol lowers testosterone levels, which is important for male and female sexual desire. Women with high cortisol levels have more difficulty achieving orgasm and have a lower libido.
Greens are also loaded with vital minerals and antioxidants, shown in research to improve the speed and strength of nerve signals, which directly equates to more sensitivity where it matters and thus more pleasure. They’re also a great source of calcium, which has been shown to increase desire, arousal and orgasm in menopausal women.
WHAT TO EAT: Mixed green salad with handfuls of spinach, chopped kale, lettuce and watercress, dressed with vinaigrette and lots of black pepper, which is a proven aphrodisiac in itself.
GET SENSUAL WITH A SEX SMOOTHIE
The sexual health therapist said flavonoids such as apple and berries are great for heart health and erectile function (file image)
You might wonder why as a teenager or younger adult you were guaranteed a lusty sexual experience no matter what you ate.
I recall one instance in my late teens when the ‘romantic dinner’ I prepared for my boyfriend consisted of frozen chicken and instant, chemically-flavoured noodles, with zero veg or fruit. Clearly I had no idea what it meant to eat well for sex, but I don’t remember it having any impact on our eagerness to get to know each other.
The fact is a young person’s body can take this kind of abuse in the short term. But as we mature, all that dietary fat and salt from ready meals and frozen dinners has a cumulative effect on nerve and arterial function.
Anti-oxidants can combat the damage to blood vessels and nerves and if nerves are healthy, they fire quickly and strongly, which is just what we want as our partner touches us.
Flavonoids are one form of anti-oxidant that are great for heart health and erectile function, and they’re easy foods to eat too. Apples, berries, leeks, parsley and celery are all good examples. Combine them with nitrate-rich foods (the leafy greens) and the benefit is even greater. And you don’t have to eat them for years to see the effects — measurable improvements are observed in blood vessels shortly after consumption.
WHAT TO EAT: A ‘Sex Smoothie’ containing whizzed-up blueberries, spinach, banana, grated ginger and a pinch of saffron.
BOOST DESIRE WITH OMEGA 3
When we talk about incredible sex and a powerful orgasm, we have to talk about blood. Or rather the vascular system. This may not sound like pillow talk, but getting it on is essentially about blood flowing freely and abundantly to all the right places.
Want better orgasms? Time to grab some libidoboosting spinach, make a ‘Sexy Smoothie’ — or even try some spuds (yes, really!)
What we eat is essential to this process, even for those of us who are in great physical shape. When we are aroused, that’s blood doing its thing.
So what to eat? Omega 3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, nuts and seeds, offer tremendous benefit to us in the bedroom through their anti-inflammatory, blood pressure-lowering super powers.
Healthy people who eat fish at least twice a week have less vascular inflammation, which means they have better sex. Fish eaters also age better because the fatty acids prevent damage to your DNA.
Be aware of potentially harmful levels of mercury in some species like swordfish and tuna however, and stick to government guidelines if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
WHAT TO EAT: Pan-seared wild salmon with steamed asparagus.
WALNUTS: THE SEXUAL SUPERFOOD
Research suggests regularly eating nuts can significantly increase the intensity of orgasms in men (file image)
We all know nuts are good for us. With their perfect balance of minerals and high omega 3, they lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Eat them for the overall health benefits — and for better sex.
All sorts of nuts will do it for you. One study showed two handfuls of nuts a day can significantly increase the intensity of orgasms in men, while another suggested pistachios can improve male sexual function.
Walnuts are a sexual superfood too. They’re a great source of the amino acid L-Arginine, which increases blood flow and is essential to sexual pleasure. Plus they’re loaded with phenolic antioxidants which protect the structure of arteries carrying blood to all the relevant bits. So potent are they, you can even see results by popping a few before sex. One study demonstrated thatwithin four hours of eating walnuts, blood vessels are more elastic.
WHAT TO EAT: A daily handful of mixed nuts.
HEIGHTEN PASSION WITH POTATOES
Potassium is so important for good sex that I advise a potassium rich meal two hours before having it. Studies show an immediate measurable improvement in vascular function after just one high potassium meal. Athletes depend on it to balance fluids and aid in muscle contractions for big competitions. And sex, after all, is an endurance sport.
Potatoes are a good source. To my mind, potatoes have been unjustly vilified in the low-carb and keto movement, but their PR would improve if we understood how good they are for sex. OK, we’re not talking fries or baked potatoes, but skin-on potatoes as part of a low-fat diet.
But don’t put salt on them! Even a single salty meal can impair arterial function within 30 minutes, reducing nitric oxide release, which is critical for arousal.
WHAT TO EAT: Potato and lentil curry with cauliflower and fenugreek leaves.
GET IT ON WITH VITAMIN D
Christine recommends eating oily fish, egg and mushrooms to beat vitamin D deficiency instead of taking supplements (file image)
Vitamin D is great for all body parts related to pleasure.
That’s because it’s not really a vitamin, but a hormone our body makes from sunlight. Deficiency, which affects at least one in five people in the UK, especially during winter — has been linked to increased blood pressure, which lowers the availability of the molecule nitric oxide, which is associated with less pleasure and sexual response.
I don’t recommend supplements, unless your doctor does. Instead, spend 20 minutes outside at midday a few times a week, or eat oily fish, egg and mushrooms to beat deficiency.
WHAT TO EAT: Mushrooms are a great source of Vitamin D. Try oyster mushroom soup or shiitake mushroom noodles or plain button mushrooms on toast.
INCREASE LUST WITH A ONCE-A-WEEK FAST
Christine suggests having plenty of water and herbal tea while fasting each week, to offset the usual decline with age of DHEA (file image)
Don’t be put off by the concept of fasting. When done intermittently and responsibly, it reduces the risk of major diseases, is linked to longer life, and creates a lightness, restfulness and overall wellness that sets the stage for better sex.
Alongside all the other health benefits, fasting has been shown to offset the usual decline with age of a steroid called DHEA (the tongue-twisting dehydroepiandrosterone), which plays an important role in sexual function and responsiveness in both men and women. Other studies found that fasting increases the weight of the testes.
I recommend a once-a-week 24-hour fast from dinner to dinner, meaning you’re only skipping one breakfast and one lunch. Start your fast after dinner on Tuesday, say, and consume only tea and water until the same time on Wednesday, then break the fast with dinner again on Wednesday.
WHAT TO DRINK: Plenty of water and herbal tea.
YOUR DATE NIGHT MENU
Putting everything we now know together, here’s the ultimate great sex menu.
Christine shared the ultimate great sex menu (file image)
Starter: Spinach and fresh herb salad with apple and pear slices, cashew nuts and dates.
Or: Butternut squash soup with aphrodisiac fennel, nutmeg and cloves.
Main course: Portobello mushroom tacos made with garlic, salsa, avocado and plenty of hot spice.
Or: Pesto baked cod made with spinach, basil and walnuts.
Pudding: Raspberries and blueberries topped with homemade nutty granola.
Or: Fresh fruit salad of kiwi, mango, orange and banana, with a ginger syrup.
FENNEL: A great sex food thanks to plentiful vitamin C and phytoestrogens, fennel soothes a host of female ailments including menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and dryness, which in turn improves sexual satisfaction. Roast it with potatoes or have it with pasta and a tomato sauce. Fennel seeds are high in naturally-occurring nitrates, too, which is good for that all-important blood flow. Add to curries or chicken dishes.
FENUGREEK: Mentioned in The Kama Sutra, the ancient Indian Sanskrit text on sexuality, as an early prescription for breast enlargement, this fashionable herb is also thought to improve libido and other measures of sexual function. Add its chopped dried leaves to vegetable sauces or soups or use the seeds in a lentil stew.
DILL: During the Middle Ages, dill was believed to have magical protective properties and was often added to love potions. Known to increase sexual desire in men, dill makes a flavourful addition to your homemade salad dressings on date night.
GINGER: This fragrant culinary root is known to boost testosterone, which is good for the sexual health of both men and women. I like to make a ginger tonic with lemon, lime, honey and mineral water. The African variety, which has white rather than yellow flesh, is sometimes called women’s Viagra because of its libido-boosting properties. Look for it in African supermarkets online.
SAFFRON: One of the most scientifically studied plant aphrodisiacs, saffron really delivers. The active constituent, crocin, was found to increase desire and performance in men and improve arousal in women. I know it’s expensive, but basically saffron means better sex with less work and you can’t put a price on that! Try it in wholesome pilaf using brown rice and quinoa, and adding cashews, herbs and dried fruit.
DATES: Thought to be the oldest cultivated fruit in the world, the mineral content in dates improves hormone balance in women and is good for fertility.
Adapted by Alison Roberts from Diet For Great Sex, Food For Male And Female Sexual Health by Christine DeLozier, £15. amazon.co.uk.