Dr. Frank Lipman is an integrative and functional medicine physician, founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness in NYC, and the creator of Be Well By Dr. Frank Lipman. In his monthly column for R29, he'll talk about the latest health and wellness news; his favorite stay-healthy tips and tricks; plus answer your questions on how to be your healthiest, best self, every day.
When Valentine’s Day rolls around, “aphrodisiac” is always the buzzword. There are a lot of foods out there that have been known to stimulate the libido, and while they aren’t scientifically proven, they are certainly worth a try! Many of them have health benefits that will increase your body’s overall health, and therefore your sexual health.
One of my favorite foods for this is chocolate, which stimulates serotonin production in the brain, leading to increased feelings of pleasure and wellbeing. Try adding unsweetened cacao powder into smoothies, or enjoy a piece of dairy-free dark chocolate for the greatest benefit. Ginger has been known to stimulate the body’s circulatory system, which can increase blood flow and sexual desire. Avocado has also been said to have libido-enhancing properties — they are full of vitamins and nutrients that improve the overall health of the body, and are especially high in vitamin E, which is known for its ability to boost the sex drive. Additionally, some say that figs provide great nutrition for sexual health – they’re high in magnesium, vitamin E, and zinc.
Ultimately, libido is most influenced by being healthy, happy, and comfortable in your body. Aside from specific aphrodisiac foods, here are a few overall lifestyle choices that will help to support your ongoing mood for love!
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Fight Fatigue With Adaptogens
One of the biggest causes of low libido is fatigue. When we’re stressed and depleted, it’s difficult to relax and enjoy ourselves, let alone feel sensual and connected to our sexual energy. Fortunately, adaptogens can help – they’re a special group of herbs that help your body to adapt to stress and fatigue, which in turn can make you feel more vibrant, energized, and in the mood. They also support the adrenal system, which is in charge of managing your body’s hormonal response to stress. Some of my favorite adaptogens include Asian ginseng, eleuthero, ashwaghanda and rhodiola rosea. I recommend looking for an adaptogenic blend that includes at least 3 of those herbs. Maca root, another adaptogen, has also been known to specifically increase libido.
Ditch The Gluten & Sugar
Gluten and sugar are major sources of fatigue, anxiety, lethargy and depression – none of which are helpful when it comes to getting in the mood. A healthy libido is directly related to how cleanly and efficiently your body is functioning, and gluten and sugar can wreak havoc on your immune system. Your digestion can also play a role in how sexy you feel. If your digestion is sluggish, and you’re feeling bloated or too full, you likely will not have the urge to be physically intimate with someone else. Try cutting out both gluten and sugar for two weeks. As your digestion improves, your energy levels and libido will soar. You’ll feel brighter, clearer and sexier.
Don’t underestimate the power of scent as it relates to your sex drive. Certain scents have been shown to be powerful aphrodisiacs. Some of the top scents to try are: vanilla, almond, jasmine, rose, ginger, and cinnamon. Look for these scents in the form of essential oils that you can dab on your skin or use as massage oils (giving or receiving a massage can get you even more relaxed and in the mood). Another option is to light candles with these scents around your home to create an environment of sensuality.
Got a health or nutrition question for Dr. Lipman? Tell us in the comments below and we'll have him answer it in a future column!
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