This article was originally posted on sexfoodandkettlebells.com, Nov 15 2012.
Hello all, and welcome to our first official topic post in the “SEX” category. Since the Sex, Food & Kettlebells blog launch in June, the focus has been primarily populating our recipe index, but now it is time to start populating the other two categories. I have some exciting topics and projects in store for you. Always remember that this is a community and as such, your questions and input are important to us. So if there is something you would like me to research or write about, simply post on our Facebook wall or contact through the blog.
Let’s get started, shall we? - The inaugural topic is *drum roll please*: LIBIDO and SEXUAL VITALITY
First order of business is to define the term, as it is often used in a vague sense. In this article, you can assume that we will be using libido interchangeably with sexual drive and sexual vitality. In Latin, libido means desire, longing, fancy, lust – pretty much all the things we have come to associate with the word. The current definition of sexual drive and specifically, instinct, is more so a result of the influence of psychoanalysis on the English language in the early 20th century. Nonetheless, it is a useful umbrella term that describes the sum of the physiological, psychological, and spiritual factors that affect our desires.
The aim of this article will be to present a perspective on what a healthy libido is, as well as exploring some lifestyle factors that may impact it.
What exactly IS a healthy libido?
Since sexual drive and vitality is a very individual and changeable thing, I am going to spare you any attempts at so-many-times-per-day quantifications. Your response to the following two questions will tell you all you need to know. This is also where a healthy relationship and communication with your partner comes in handy.
(Thanks to Danny Roddy for providing the inspiration for this article and questionnaire.)
Let's use a 1-10 scale. 1 being the thought of sex makes you dizzy, and not in the good way. 10 being you are currently in the process of ripping your partner's clothes off with your teeth.
1. How is your libido?
2. Ask your partner to quantify your libido.
3. How is your partner's libido?
4. Ask your partner to quantify his or her libido.
If the response to the questions is 1-5: Clearly there is some work to be done. This article will provide you with support.
If the response to the questions is 5-9: Good. This article will provide you with some extra strategies to help improve your health.
If the response to the questions is 9-10: You're an animal. Read this article and bask in your own awesomeness.
If the responses differ: It's time to have a gentle and loving talk with your partner and discuss ways to address your health, both as individuals and as a couple.
The good news here is that the journey to improving your sexual vitality will strengthen your relationship with your partner, and in all honesty, can serve as an aphrodisiac in itself.
What factors contribute to sexual vitality?
- overall health of the relationship
- nutritional deficiencies
- food quality
- activity level
- circulation and C02
- gender differences
Before we go on, let me emphasize that the following suggestions are not meant to replace medical advice. It is always best to discuss any concerns with your doctor, and get your blood work done. More information is an asset. If you are urban hippies like us, you can take those test results to a naturopath and/or cinical herbalist that will be able to assist you in dealing with any greater underlying issues. From there on in, it is your responsibility to ensure your lifestyle supports your healing.
Remember that you need to be an active participant in your health if you are to succeed.
Now let's discuss the above mentioned factors in more detail:
Overall Health of the Relationship
Nourishing your relationship is clearly the #1 defining factor. Keeping your relationship healthy is just as important as keeping your body healthy. Both take work, and both require different focuses over time. You will experience various challenges at various stages in life. The key is to communicate, and work through it. Always keep in your heart's centre the image of that person you fell in love with. Often during hard times we forget the simple things, like the way your partner's smile brightened your day or that first date when he was so cold he layered five shirts on and looked like the Michelin Man.
Stress is arguably the single greatest factor in health. Naturally, this is a huge topic, and can play havoc on our relationships with each other and with our bodies. Whether in the form of an illness or a life circumstance, or even overtraining (you know who you are!) stress puts excessive strain on your body, depresses your metabolism, and negatively affects your endocrine system.
This can manifest in the following ways:
- restless or interrupted sleep
- low heart rate
- low body temperature
- digestive concerns
- muskeloskeletal pain
- intestinal endotoxin/dysbiosis
Some effective strategies to address these increased demands:
- use coconut oil
- use butter
- decrease unsaturated fat intake (ie industrial seed oils, nuts/seeds in large amounts)
- remove grains
- make bone broth (focusing on optimizing the gelatin content)
- get an infrared light (or go to an infrared sauna)
- relaxation strategies (meditation, spending time in nature, etc)
- check for: low sugar, low sodium, low protein (all of these can depress metabolic function and perpetuate the stress response)
- give yourself a set bedtime and stick to it
These can be the result of dietary intake, health history, or use of medications. Our metabolism is the result of a complex interaction of many chemical reactions, and everything plays a vital role. Some common deficiencies connected with sexual vitality are:
- sugar (yes I said it)
- saturated fat
- zinc (ie liver, oysters)
- B complex
- fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)
Processed food aside, the sourcing of whole foods is something you should consider. Aside from nutritional deficiencies from low food quality, pesticides, antibiotics, and genetically modified food are all culprits in numerous reactions involving the intestinal, immune, and endocrine systems. Which means less boom in the bedroom, not to mention the potential for some pretty nasty long term chronic conditions. So - stay away from them as much as you can. This essentially means ensuring as much as possible that the dairy and meat you are eating is from a sustainable, grass fed local farm, the produce is from local and organic farms (a CSA is a great way to achieve this goal), and that any supplementation you are taking is as clean as possible (soy free, gluten free, etc). Note that this also goes for beauty and hygiene product quality as well.
Given the sedentary nature of our society overall, we know that that being active is important to health. But have you thought about the positive impact it could have on your sexual vitality? It's immense (no pun intended). Not only in terms of metabolic function, and endocrine regulation, but also in terms of self confidence. After all, the first step in being sexy is feeling sexy.
The caveat here is that over training is just as detrimental (if not more so) than under training. (Attention gym rats and bunnies!) Intense cardio 7 times a week is waaaay too much, people. Throw some strength training days in there, keep your cardio to an efficient minimum and preferably outdoors, avoid training in pain, and focus on giving yourself those rest days. I always tell my clients that the most important part of strength training is recovery. Seriously.
Circulation and C02
Well, circulation is kind of an obvious one. It is important for umm.. just about everything, nutrient delivery, metabolic function overall, as well as some pretty obvious sexual functions.
Some easy ways to improve your circulation:
- boost your metabolism
- hot/cold alternating showers
- salt foot soaks
- dry brushing
- "warming" socks
- physical activity
C02 levels on the other hand, are representative of oxygen consumption, which in turn correlates with your BMR (basal metabolic rate; 02 consumption at rest, at room temp). As a result, C02 production is also connected to overall heat production, and thus body temperature.
Nutritional points to optimize body temperature and C02:
- butter, coconut oil
- ensure adequate protein, salt, sugar intake
- decrease unsaturated fat intake
- dairy (organic full fat, grassfed)
- zinc, copper
- calcium intake (to balance the calcium-phosphate ratio, ie. from sea salt or home made eggshell calcium)
- gut health regulation (ie. carrot grated daily for antifungal benefits, probiotic support)
Some medications, including birth control, can affect your sexual drive by affecting your endocrine health, metabolism, as well as resulting in nutritional deficiencies. Do your research, and work with your healthcare professional to supplement for any deficiencies, or explore options (ie. naturopathic intervention) to decrease or even come off the medication over time if possible in your case.
While undeniable physiological changes occur with age, it is not likely that these play the biggest role in suppressing sexual vitality - it is rather all the environmental factors that plague our society that are to blame. Financial stress, relationship stress, children, work, in addition to a lifetime of questionable food quality, decreased physical activity, and decreased communication are all incredibly traumatic, and expend our resources. While some circumstances are inevitable, there is still much we can do. Work on optimizing your health at any age with a healthy lifestyle and a healthy communicative relationship, and the additional time spent in the bedroom will speak for itself.
Aside from obvious gender differences and stresses, there are definite specifics in terms of communication style and needs. While this could be an article in itself, I will keep it simple:
(1) Talk with your partner. Communicate your needs.
(2) Men: remember that foreplay for your ladies starts long before the bedroom. Try do something daily that reminds her that you think of her, and to ease her busy day. It could be flowers, a note, a phone call, her favourite food, laundry, anything.
(3) Ladies: remember that your man needs touch. Be affectionate, both inside the bedroom and out. Listen to his needs, and remember that no matter how strong he is, and how busy both of you are, he needs some of your time too.
Note: Please remember that while I am registered holistic nutritionist, the articles I post are to be used as information, not professional advice, and you should always speak with your heathcare professionals when making dietary or lifestyle changes.