Sex, Exercise, Food & Libido

By: Albert Huang, DC

Let’s talk about sex, there’s nothing to hide. Sex is a natural part of human nature as it is the key to reproduction and survival. Simple human biology would rationalize we mate to pass on our DNA and genetics to future generations at the same time satisfy our laws of attraction. Humans are unique as well different from other species because we have the capacity to feel emotions, memory, and attachment. The part in our brain called the limbic system is involved in many of our emotions, motivations, feelings, pleasure, and sexual behavior. The limbic system is highly influenced by hormones, physical activity, nutrition, and neural connections.

During aging, there is a decline in anabolic-androgenic hormones, namely testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) that may have significant negative effects on body composition, physical function, and libido. This decrease in hormones plays a role on lowering sex drive and performance. Since, aging is inevitable some natural alternatives to offset a decreased sex drive include stress modulation, physical activity, and nutrition.

Exercise induces the release of endorphins into the limbic and prefrontal areas of the brain. The increase in endorphins may influence the buildup of hormones that power your libido. Endorphins also reduce stress, which is a major sex drive inhibitor.


Libido Booster Tip #1 – Reduce stress levels. Activities such as yoga, stretching, meditation, exercise, and breathing techniques can help decrease stress levels therby boosting intimacy.

With regard to mood, several studies have found that a decrease in testosterone substantially reflected negative mood states relating to fatigue, depression, and self-esteem. It can be argued that sex would be the last thing on your mind when you are experiencing such negative emotions.

Luckily, regular exercise can improve mood and combat these negative feelings to increase sexual desire and make sex more enjoyable. All types of exercise are beneficial as they maintain your body in good working order. Additionally, exercise contributes to a positive self image which is vital to self confidence and self-assurance in the bedroom. Some studies have shown that regular exercisers report a higher sex drive; this may be related to surges of testosterone that can occur immediately after resistance training like lifting weights or right after endurance training like running or cycling.

Since sex can be an act of endurance, improving cardiovascular fitness with aerobic activity such as walking, running, cycling or swimming for at least 30 minutes, three to five times per week, will help both partners perform longer and more often.    Regular exercise also increases blood flow to the genitals priming men and women for sex. A University of California study of middle-aged, sedentary men found that after just one hour of exercise three times a week, men demonstrated improved sexual function, more frequent sex and orgasms, and greater satisfaction.

Libido Booster Tip #2 – Participate in frequent exercise, 3-5 times per week for 30 minutes or more. Do a combination of resistance training as well cardiovascular training to ramp up strength, endurance, and vigor.

Aphrodisiacs are thought to be substances that can enhance sexual desire. While aphrodisiacs are not based on any scientific evidence, there are many people who do believe that they work. The most common dietary ones are oysters, chocolate, avocado, bananas, leafy greens, nuts/ seeds, ginger, and ginseng.

Oysters improve dopamine levels which boosts libido in men and women. Oysters are also high in zinc which is vital for testosterone production and healthy sperm. Chocolate which comes from the cocoa bean has many antioxidant properties that help neutralize free radicals. It also contains a stimulating chemical known as phenylethlamine that stimulates the sense of excitement and well being.

Fruits and vegetables such as avocados, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts are high in vitamins and minerals. B vitamins are important for energy and reduction in stress. Leafy greens are rich in magnesium which can increase the body’s own production of nitric oxide, which is a natural vasodilator (widens blood vessels). Increased blood flow to the genitals manifests arousal for both men and women.

Both nuts and seeds are rich in zinc which contributes to a stimulated libido. Zinc is a key mineral necessary to maintain male potency and healthy sperm. Ginger and ginseng increase circulation – ginseng in particular is thought to increase libido by exciting the central nervous system.


Libido Booster Tip #3 – Certain foods can enhance sexual desire and promote a happier sex life. Next time you have a dinner, think about pairing some of these foods with a glass of wine. Alcohol in responsible doses may help lower anxiety and reduce stresses related to sex.

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The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism June 1, 2004 vol. 89 no. 6 2837-2845