Ask Marilyn: can you help me boost my libido?

Q : I’m 52 and menopause is around the corner. I’ve noticed a dip in my libido. Is it true that certain foods can boost libido?


A: Loss of libido is something that can affect women who are pre or post menopausal. Menopause is a natural event in a woman’s’ life and loss of libido may be one of the symptoms experienced around this time.  In general, eating healthy foods, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and oily fish can help balance your blood sugar and your reproductive hormones which in turn will help boost your libido. The saturated fats in red meat, fast food, take-aways and processed foods have all been linked to a loss of libido. Cutting back on these foods could help towards increasing your libido and get your sex drive back on track.


As far as specific foods are concerned including sensible amounts of the following libido boosting foods in your diet may be beneficial:


Almonds (and nuts in general) along with oily fish are prime sources of essential fatty acids which help maintain a healthy balance of sex hormones in men and women. Nuts are also rich in the mineral manganese and a lack of manganese can lead to loss of libido.


Avocado: The Aztecs called the avocado tree ahuacatl or “testicle tree.” While avocados can indeed look like that body part, they contain high levels of folic acid, which helps metabolise proteins, thus giving you more energy. They also contain vitamin B6 (a nutrient that increases male and female hormone production) and potassium two elements that help enhance both male and female libido.


Bananas contain an alkaloid compound called bufotenine which acts on the brain to improve your mood, self-confidence and possibly your sex drive. Bananas are also rich in vitamin B6 which is important in the manufacture of sex hormones. 


Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, are not only rich in the sex hormone zinc but are also are incredibly high in anti-oxidants which helps to optimise blood flow to the sex organs, and they have the lowest glycaemic load of any fruit meaning they provide sustained energy levels at only a few calories.


Celery contains androstenone, which is a biochemical cousin of the male hormone testosterone and is believed to be the principal chemical of attraction or pheromone. The Romans dedicated celery to Pluto, their god of sex and the underworld, and crushed celery seeds (easily added to salads or breads) are said to be particularly potent.


Cinnamon is thought to tone the kidneys and produce a strong flow of energy. Studies have also shown that the smell of cinnamon can also boost concentration and alertness: important for satisfying sex.


Chillies may heat up your sex life too, due to capsaicin—the substance that gives kick to peppers, curries and other spicy foods. Capsaicin stimulates nerve endings to release chemicals, raising the heart rate and possibly triggering the release of endorphins giving you the pleasurable feeling of a natural high. 



Garlic: Yes, you might need to stock up on some extra breath mints, but it’ll be worth it. Garlic contains allicin, an ingredient that increases blood flow to the sexual organs. As such, it’s a highly effective herb for increasing libido. If the odour just won’t work for you, or you can’t stand garlic, you can always take garlic capsules instead. (see Aged Garlic on the Resources Page X).


Ginger is one of the oldest medicinal spices in the world; it allegedly increases the blood flow to the genitals and therefore acts as an aphrodisiac. Try it in a spicy dish served with saffron rice. It can also be used as part of an aromatherapy blend for massage or a room scent.


Honey is an aphrodisiac due to its rich B vitamin and amino acid energy boosting content. Bee pollen can also help boost fertility. Bee pollen isn’t just a fancy item in health food stores. Bee pollen is made from millions of particles of a semen-like substance. Pollen’s natural primal role is to fertilize. 


Lentils are a good source of B vitamins. B vitamins are essential for hormone balance in women and healthy sperm count in men.


Lychee berries are not only a good source of libido boosting vitamin B but are also packed with vitamin C. Research has shown that vitamin C is good for healthy fertility in men and women.


Oats are a good source of the antioxidants selenium and vitamin E.  Both selenium and vitamin E deficiency has been linked to infertility in men and women.


Oysters have several qualities useful (in the long run) for lovers: They are low in fat, but high in proteins, complex sugars and zinc. Zinc is a very important part of testosterone, the hormone that governs sex drive in both genders.


Pumpkin seeds are rich in the mineral zinc, which is helps in the production of testosterone which is needed for sperm production and a woman’s body prepares itself for sex more quickly if zinc levels are good.


Tuna is known as the king of sexy foods for its powers to raise the libido and stamina. And prawns are rich in phenylalanine, a chemical which helps to increase sexual appetite.


Bear in mind that regular exercise helps too, by boosting your mood and body image. Also check your stress levels. In general, stress dampens libido. A stressed woman may blame a host of other factors for her symptoms, without realising that stress is the real cause of the problem.


And finally, don’t forget that the smells of certain foods have been found to be sexually arousing, notably pumpkins and popcorn for men and liquorice for women.

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