Sex, Aging and Mood Boosters
Dr. Perricone Discusses

Sex, Aging and Mood Boosters

Enjoying a healthy and robust sex life confers many health and potential longevity benefits - as well as an unexpected beauty benefit: looking younger.

In fact, a study conducted during a 10-year period involving more than 3,500 European and American women and men examined various factors associated with youthful appearance. A panel of judges viewed the participants through a one-way mirror and then guessed the age of each study subject. Those women and men whose age was regularly underestimated by 7-12 years were labeled "superyoung." Among these superyoung people, one of the factors most highly correlated with youthful appearance was an active sex life. On average, superyoung participants reported in engaging in sexual intercourse 3 times per week in comparison with the control group's average of twice a week.

Other Ways Sex Keeps Us Young:

  • Boosts beauty sleep. Orgasm causes a surge in oxytocin (a hormone best known for inducing labor, but also associated with human attachment and bonding) and endorphins that may act as sedatives.
  • Increases fitness. Regular sex burns calories and fat. It also has been suggested that people with active sex lives tend to exercise more frequently and have better dietary habits than those who are less sexually active.
  • Raises DHEA. An active sex life will also naturally raise levels of the hormone DHEA, which has an anti-aging effect on the body (and decreases as we age). Research on middle-aged men suggests a relationship between the levels of DHEA, which is released with orgasm, and a reduction in the risk of heart disease.

A Note on Female Libido

Healthy fats are vital to hormone production, and a healthy sex life is all about the hormones. Women often report lower libido than that of men. I believe a major contributing factor is their avoidance of fats at all costs. Sadly, the costs are many, including depression, loss of skin radiance and a diminished sex drive. Women: make sure to eat healthy fats daily, including cold water fish, raw nuts and extra-virgin olive oil to enhance your romance.

Foods to Enjoy for Sexual Health

Here are some wonderful foods that will benefit your sex life while boosting your overall sense of happiness.

1. High Omega-3 cold water fish

Wild salmon, sardines, herring and trout are all great options. Incorporating these foods into your diet regularly is guaranteed to increase overall health and sexual stamina. I cannot overstate how critical Omega-3s are to the brain and nervous system; they improve mood and memory, fight depression and impart skin with a glowing radiance.

2. Maca

Maca is the edible root of a Peruvian plant that has been touted for its reported aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing properties for thousands of years. Look for it in powdered form and add it to your blended smoothies or oatmeal.

3. Asparagus

This vegetable is rich in folate, a B vitamin that helps increase production of histamine. Correct levels of histamine are important for healthy sex drive for both men and women.

4. Oysters

Oysters are extremely rich in zinc, which is essential for testosterone production and the maintenance of healthy sperm. Even though women have far less testosterone than men, it plays a key part in the female libido as well. Oysters also boost dopamine, a hormone which results in increased libido in both men and women.

5. Pumpkin seeds

Like oysters, pumpkin seeds are extremely rich in zinc, and extremely beneficial for the male prostate gland. Don't underestimate the power of zinc when it comes to a woman's sex drive, either. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which act as a precursor of prostaglandins—hormone-like substances important for sexual health.

6. Blueberries

When it comes to boosting dopamine levels, blueberries rule. Blueberries allow the body a greater ability to release dopamine, an energizing, stimulatory neurotransmitter. Blueberries also protect us from the loss of dopamine cells that normally occurs during the aging process. By increasing brain energy production and maintaining youthful brain function, dopamine exerts an extremely important anti-aging effect. And, since dopamine decreases as we age, blueberries become even more important as we get older.

7. Garlic

Garlic contains allicin, a compound thought to increase blood flow to the sexual organs. Some experts believe that garlic is a very powerful aphrodisiac—but it doesn't work overnight. They recommend taking capsules or eating garlic daily for about a month to reap its remarkable benefits.

8. Avocado

Rich in folic acid for increased energy and healthy fats, which improve mood and a sense of well-being. But that's not all: the Vitamin B6 they contain helps to increase the production of male hormones, critical for both genders' sex drive.

9. Peanuts

Particularly for men, studies show that the amino acid L-Arginine is helpful for improving sexual function in men and peanuts are a rich natural source of L-arginine. Preliminary studies have found that L-arginine may also help with erectile dysfunction because it relaxes the blood vessels.

10. Watermelon

Watermelon is rich in L-citrulline, an amino acid that helps improve blood flow. L-citrulline supports the body in optimizing blood flow through its conversion to L-arginine and then nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is involved in vasodilatation (dilation of the blood vessels). Low levels of nitric oxide are associated with mental and physical fatigue and sexual dysfunction. Like Viagra, L-citrulline increases blood flow to the sexual organs, but without any negative side effects; it is also highly effective at relaxing blood pressure.

11. Extra Dark Chocolate

I recommend enjoying dark chocolate made of at least 70% cocoa for maximum health benefits. At this percentage, chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a chemical believed to produce the feeling of "being in love." We all know how good chocolate makes us feel. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who enjoyed a piece of chocolate every day had more active sex lives than those who didn't. Eating dark chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, resulting in pleasurable feelings and reduced stress. Serotonin, another important neurotransmitter, acts as an anti-depressant and increases our feelings of well-being.

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