"The standard mix of vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates" 

Who remembers the Sh5million Valentine’s day offer at Villa Rosa Kempinski in February? I am sure most of us have forgotten all about it and moved on. Sh5 million! For three days of romance, adventure and seven-course meals prepared with ingredients that boost libido? 

“If a man is going to perform then what better day than Valentine’s?” Chef Ciaran Gantly, the man who was tasked with preparing this magical dishes, remarked.

The menu was pretty much the standard mix of vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates. It was however special. ‘Aphrodisiac’, they called it. The couple who would take the package could as well prepare for explosive evenings in advance.
Looking at Ciaran’s menu, one couldn’t help but notice an emphasis on seafood. Except for chicken breasts and veggies, nearly everything else had some connection to the sea. “That is because seafood is known to boost sexual desire,” he said.

That lends credibility to the octopus soup myth. All this, to Kepha Nyanumba, a nutritionist with AAR Kenya, amounts to so much brouhaha about nothing. Sexual performance, he says, is an automatic natural response. That is how it should be.

“Low libido comes as a result of many factors working together,” he says. “It is therefore a long shot trying to solve it by simply eating a particular food.”

For the record though, Kepha admits that seafood contains some special nutrients known to improve the odds in the bedroom. He singles out Vitamin E, omega-3-fatty acids and zinc.

But these compounds and elements are found in diverse cuisines – only in varied proportions. In essence, therefore, it would be hard to say that particular items are the ‘superfoods’ of libido.

For years, patients have asked Kepha what to eat to improve performance in the bedroom. On his part, Kepha has always tried to dig deeper and bring out diagnoses before offering a list of vegetables and proteins.

He says: “Nutrition is only a small part of sexual vitality. The modern lifestyle presents a lot of predisposing factors that can cause sexual dysfunction. Stress is known worldwide as a big trigger of low libido. Obesity and poor heart health widens the bracket farther.”

And there are many ways nutrition contributes towards sex. Sex requires energy – which comes from carbohydrates. The hormonal changes involved in the chain of reaction that leads to proper intercourse are proteins. Micronutrients are important in controlling muscular activity and blood movement.

Nearly every food type would therefore prove essential in propping up one for sex. And while zinc, vitamin E and omega-3-fatty acids tend to be better sex boosters, they are not necessarily found in just one class of food.

The debate, says Kepha, should be on what causes low sexual response – which is a combination of factors – rather than foods that improve libido.

A balanced diet (at all times) is necessary for good performance. Unless it is medicine (like Viagra), there is no magic bullet that would automatically transform someone into a super sex star.