Learn what causes erectile dysfunction and 4 easy ways to prevent it.
Arguably, the most significant uniquely-male health problem in America is erectile dysfunction.
Research indicates that the use of Viagra skyrocketed 312% among men aged 18-45 between 1998 and 2002.
Here are some startling statistics about erectile dysfunction in America:
- According to a 2012 medical journal, erectile dysfunction affects about 30 million men in the United States.
- In one 2004 study of eight countries, the U.S. has the highest rate of self-reported erectile dysfunction.
- Men older than 40 are three times more likely to experience complete erectile dysfunction than younger men.
- Vascular disease is the most common cause of erectile dysfunction.
- Obesity and diabetes are responsible for 8 million cases of erectile dysfunction.
- A recent study showed that erectile dysfunction is increasing in younger males, being prevalent in 26% of men younger than 40.
Is it a foregone conclusion that erectile dysfunction is a part of life for men? Why is erectile dysfunction becoming more common in younger men? And can our choices for food help spice things up in the bedroom?
The connection between heart disease and erectile dysfunction is getting increasing attention and for good reason.
The same lifestyle factors that restrict blood flow to the heart also restrict blood flow to that lower extremity. In fact, erectile dysfunction is increasingly being viewed as an indicator of cardiovascular disease, which puts you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America, regardless of gender. It is responsible for 1 in 4 male deaths.
Perhaps the sometimes embarrassing erectile dysfunction can prove to be a valuable life-saving warning to eat your way to better health.
The build up of plaque in your artery walls promotes cardiovascular disease. This plaque is caused by eating excessive amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol. Saturated fats are primarily found in animal-based foods.
[Map Source: CDC]
Most whole plant foods have little or no saturated fat. Additionally, cholesterol only exists in animal-based foods.
Foods that are high in nitrates can boost vascular health. Leafy greens are the best dietary sources of nitrates, including swiss chard, oak leaf lettuce, beet greens, spring greens (mesclun mix), butter leaf lettuce, and arugula. Whole plant foods are high in fiber, which reduces plaque buildup in your arteries.
Only about 3% of Americans are eating the recommended daily intake of fiber. It is no wonder that according to the American Urological Association, living a plant-based lifestyle can decrease your risk of erectile dysfunction.
Switching to a plant-based lifestyle can seem overwhelming to the dedicated omnivore. Making incremental changes can be effective in transitioning to a healthier style of eating. Here are four things that you can do right away to eat more whole plant foods:
1. Switch out your morning sausage and eggs for oats or whole-grain cereals with added fresh fruit and plant milk. Because fiber digests slowly, a high-fiber, plant-based breakfast will keep you satiated all morning.
2. Switch dairy products for plant-based alternatives. Unsweetened plant-based milks are very healthy. Cheese is very addictive and one of the most damaging foods for cardiovascular health. Consider switching to plant-based cheese alternatives to help break the addiction. Cheese alternatives should be used sparingly and only in transition because they are high in unhealthy oils.
3. Change your relationship with meat. Instead of featuring meat as the centerpiece of your meals, fill your plates with whole plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, with meat being added as a compliment. Challenge yourself to reduce meat intake to three or four times a week.
4. Become a Whole Harvest subscriber. They provide a convenient way to eat at least one healthy, delicious, plant-based meal every day.
When it comes to erectile dysfunction, it's not you, it’s meat. So rise up and be firm in your resolve to eat more whole plant foods!