Good Food for Better Sex?
Are some foods better than others for fueling good sex? It could just be that a healthy diet is healthy for your sex life.
Myths and Truths continued...
Food science professional Mary Ellen Camire, PhD, encounters
all sorts of theories about why certain edibles improve sex life, and sometimes
she just has to laugh. She says it's true that some vitamins and nutrients have
particular benefits, but too much of one thing can also have a negative effect
on the body. Blueberries, for instance, have been touted as a good aid for
improving blood flow to the genitals. Consuming too much of the fruit, however,
can cause diarrhea.
Camire recommends a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a good
attitude. "If you're having a nice meal and you're with a partner you like,
that's all you need," she says. "It's as much in the mind as with anything
Barnaby Barratt, PhD, president-elect of the American
Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, couldn't agree more.
He says a happy sex life ultimately depends upon ridding oneself of shame,
guilt, anxiety, and inhibition. "Sex is first and foremost a psychological
issue," he says. "Above and beyond that, things to do with food, diet, and so
forth will be useful, but they're not going to provide magical answers."
Psychology is so powerful, notes Barratt, that for some people
who believe in aphrodisiacs, specific foods may very well make them feel
sexually alive and vigorous. Others may also find great pleasure in playing
with food (such as licking whipped cream off of a partner's body) that it
enhances the sexual experience.
The Sweet Smell of Sex
The mere scent of food and other items may be enough to
sexually arouse men and women, according to research by Alan R. Hirsch, MD,
FACP, neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research
Foundation in Chicago. Hirsch conducted two studies that measured men and
women's reaction to different smells. One study measured blood flow to the
penis, and the other to the vagina.
The results: Men appeared to be turned on most by a combination
of smelling lavender and pumpkin pie, and women by Good and Plenty candy and
There's no surefire explanation for the findings, says Hirsch,
who theorizes that the favored smells may remind people of their childhoods.
Such nostalgia can supposedly reduce anxiety and inhibitions, thereby
increasing blood flow to the genitals.
Previous research has shown that smells are important in
attraction, says Barratt, but those studies have mainly focused on people's
scents. "Clearly, we do know that how people smell has an effect on the sexual
desire of a partner," he says, noting that a body's scent has a lot to do with
the person's diet.