Lifestyle And Erectile Dysfunction
Certain modifiable conditions and behaviors increase the chances of developing erectile dysfunction. These include lack of physical activity and obesity, as well as alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use (Sadeghi-Nejad 2007; Fortney 2012; Meldrum 2011). Eating an unhealthy diet low in antioxidants is also linked to erectile dysfunction (Meldrum 2011; Ledda 2010).
The following lifestyle modifications may improve erectile function (Heidelbaugh 2010):
- Regular physical exercise: Studies have shown that exercise can improve erectile function, sexual response, and overall cardiovascular health (Meldrum 2011; La Vignera 2012).
- Weight control and diet: Obesity nearly doubles the risk of erectile dysfunction (Heidelbaugh 2010). Weight control and adoption of a healthier diet (such the Mediterranean diet) may reduce this risk. The principles of a Mediterranean diet include high intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and fish, with low intake of refined grains as well as red and processed meats. In combination with physical activity, a Mediterranean diet may be especially beneficial for men with erectile dysfunction who also have metabolic syndrome or diabetes (Meldrum 2011; La Vignera 2012; Esposito 2006,2010; Giugliano 2010). Furthermore, diets rich in antioxidants have been shown to improve penile blood flow, erectile activity, smooth muscle relaxation, and fibrosis (Meldrum 2011; Zhang 2011).