There has been a long-held belief that certain foods, seeds and soups increase horsepower for men suffering bouts of low libido. You must have heard of groundnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, olive oil, certain roots, camel and octopus soup, and even some alcohol brands that resemble engine oil.
There has been increased demand for these foods since the Covid-19 pandemic came calling, with attendant stress and depression from job and business losses.
Stress and depression lead to low libido and when you add diseases like diabetes and obesity, the situation only worsens cases of Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
Most men have resorted to foods that boost bedroom horsepower, but can sexual stamina be fueled by nutrition?
Well, scientists inform us on good authority that certain foods work magic. Like sea foods, including octopus soup or supu ya pweza.
Dr Willis Wanjala, the Executive Director of Makini Herbal Clinic, explains that men who consume octopus soup, eat crabs, salmon and oysters experience increased sex drives than those who consume less sea-foods.
“Octopus soup and Oysters meat contain heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids that help boost a man's libido” says Dr Wanjala, a herbal medicine researcher. He says most sea-foods are aphrodisiacs, as they contain specific amino acids that improve one's sex drive, though it pays to understand the physical, mental and emotional factors contributing to dwindling fortunes in the libido department.
Octopus soup and Oyster meat, he says, increase blood flow to genitals and constant circulation of blood is essential to sustaining stamina, besides improving quality of sperms. Better circulation of blood leads to improved cardiac health, which is also vital for erection on demand.
Chris Ojiewo, a macro-biologist, says: “Oysters are rich in zinc, which contains minerals that the body needs every day for vital functions. These include cell metabolism, stamina, regulating levels of testosterone, which is the most important male sex hormone.”
Dr Ojiewo adds that zinc also helps in treating Erectile Dysfunction in people with chronic kidney disease and “oyster contains more zinc than all sea-foods” including crabs and lobsters.
Nutritionists also recommend diets including whole grains, certain fruits, specific vegetables, fibre, healthy oils like sunflower oil and its seeds, olive oil and groundnuts.
Dr Ojiewo, also a researcher on legumes, says people who eat groundnuts and sunflower seeds/oil have less risk of metabolic syndrome, a major factor for Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
Among traditional vegetables, experts recommend mrenda (jute mallow) as according to Dr Wanjala it has some antioxidants in Vitamin A, C and E which can help the body to kill off cancerous development, especially colon cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer. Consumption of mrenda keeps prostate healthy, boosting libido. Besides, mrenda also has anti ageing properties.
Sunflower seeds and oil are rich in proteins, zinc and vitamin E, which improves blood circulation crucial in maintaining an erection.
Your sex life might greatly improve if you switch to plant-based cooking oils like sunflower which is rich in ‘healthy’ fats, including polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat. Sunflower seeds are also highly rated in the libido sector as their consumption lowers the rates of cardiovascular disease, cholesterol and blood pressure.
Sunflower seeds are also a source of many vitamins and minerals, including zinc and selenium, which supports the immune system, reduce inflammation and fight infection, according to nutritionist Easter K'Ojwang'.
She says besides vitamin B1 “the high levels of protein in sunflower seeds boosts energy levels” and that “selenium can increase blood flow and deliver more oxygen to your body.”
Dr Wanjala says the zinc in sunflower is very important in sperm production, and is, therefore, a major booster of libido. Wanjala says men should consume more groundnuts, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, pumpkins and traditional vegetables like mrenda, susa (pumpkin leaves) garlic and celery - whose leaves, stalks and seeds are rich folic acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K, Vitamin C and potassium - which are all libido boosters.
“Next time you sit down for a romantic dinner, add a little basil or garlic to your dish. The smell of basil stimulates the senses,” advises Wanjala. “Garlic contains high levels of allicin, which increases blood flow and boosts libido.”
Supu ya pweza is from ‘chameleon of the sea’
Supu ya pweza (octopus soup) is known to increase sex drive, and boy! the octopus, the ‘chameleon of the sea,’ is a one of a kind creature. It has unique biology as it can change shape and colour, re-grow its limbs and has multiple hearts and brains.
The octopus is a good source of iron, omega-3, selenium, copper and vitamin B12. It is also rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium all which promotes a healthy heart ideal in pumping blood to the genitals.
Supu ya pweza is thus rich in vitamins and minerals but which is also “low in fat, making it a great source of complete protein for people trying to manage their weight,” says Dr Nicholas Ochieng', a general practitioner at Kenyatta National Hospital adding that “frying the octopus as calamari or cooking it in butter or oil can add extra fat and calorie content to your meal.”
Dr Ochieng' says the Omega-3 fatty acids in the octopus “can lower your blood pressure and slow the buildup of plaque in your arteries, reducing stress on the heart.” The Omega-3s can also reduce triglycerides fats in your blood which can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease besides lowering the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat.
Dr Willis Wanjala, a herbal researchers adds that two of the omega-3 fatty acids found in Octopus soup — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — assuage the vagaries of depression and other mood disorders even though clinical trials are ongoing.
Dr Wanjala says a healthy libido is highly dependent on cardiovascular health and “all these factors are useful for sexual desire and libido boosters.”
Groundnuts good for sex drive, junk food lowers sperm count
Testosterone is the hormone that regulates sex drive. Groundnuts regulates sex drive by increasing the testosterone levels as the nuts are low in carbohydrates, but high in unsaturated fatty acids explains Dr Chris Ojiewo, a plant scientist at the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
Groundnuts and traditional vegetables increase the sex drive by improving overall blood flow specifically to the penis and clitoris.
Junk foods also leads to low libido as most are empty on calories which when mixed with low activities leads to fat deposits inside blood vessels impeding free flow towards the genitals resulting in Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
The main organ for control of sex drive is the brain and “micronutrients such as magnesium and zinc are important for your hormonal balance and brain health. Groundnut is a good source of both micronutrients and therefore regulates libido through a healthy brain and balance levels of sex hormones", explains Dr Ojiewo adding that groundnuts are rich in zinc, which is essential for testosterone production and maintenance of healthy sperm.
In a single ejaculation, 1mg of zinc is lost. Semen contains a lot of zinc. That zinc lost on the seminal fluid during ejaculation needs to be replenished through food rich in zinc such as nuts, oysters and finger millet.
Elevated blood glucose and insulin insensitivity cause sex hormone imbalances and Dr Ojiewo explains that groundnuts are rich in L-arginine, an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels and improves overall blood circulation particularly to the penile and clitoral capillaries. Once L-arginine is consumed, the body converts it into nitric oxide, a compound found in Viagra, notes the scientist adding that men with low libido have low sperm count.
Depression, stress, anxiety leads to cold nights
There are several factors which lead to low libido, a condition linked to low blood flowing to the genitals including “damage of the nervous centres into the penis, side effects of medication/drugs, radiation of medical treatment, depression, stress and anxiety", says Dr Willis Wanjala.
Tackling these underlying causes are the best way to treat ED and nutrition and diet is the best approach, he advises. Pumpkins are rich in vitamins and can boost libido. "There are no myths in these issues, all on facts and points are backed by scientific evidence, research and studies", observes the herbal researcher adding that, “Ginkgo Biloba is a herb that treats antidepressant induced sexual dysfunction. It is an extract derived from the Chinese tree Ginkgo.”