Gentlemen, we need to talk about something – but it’s something that nobody likes to talk about.
If you’re having trouble ‘down there’, you don’t have to accept it as a matter of getting older. If you’ve been reading my Nutrition & Healing newsletter for a while now, you know how important it is to monitor and maintain your testosterone levels – not only for muscle strength and overall energy, but also to perform your best when you’re ‘in the moment.’
But it’s actually possible to have an optimal testosterone level and still have serious issues in the bedroom. And if that’s happening to you, it’s likely because there’s an issue with blood flow.
You see, your erections and sexual performance have a LOT to do with the amount of blood that can get to the penis. But there’s one molecule that’s now recognised as the main limiting factor in this equation: nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide works by relaxing arteries and making them more flexible so blood can flow freely through your body. The amount of blood that gets to every nook and cranny of your body is one of the most crucial aspects of all of health. If the blood isn’t able to nourish the organs and muscles and every other piece of the body, basically nothing works.
And that may explain why things may be a little limp in your lower region.
There’s NOTHING more important to the human body, than the free flow of blood. Therefore, in order to achieve a perfect erection (like when you were 18) you need optimal testosterone AND optimal nitric oxide levels.
In fact, getting better blood flow to the penis is actually more important than the amount of testosterone that’s floating around your body. Fortunately, there’s something you can do to preserve and actually increase the production of nitric oxide in your body. There’s not much better you can do for your body than to focus on raising your levels of nitric oxide so that you can get precious blood flow to your vital organs. This dramatically essential chemical is crucial to just about every aspect of your body.
It’s one of the most important molecules in your body. And you’ll see that when you increase blood flow, your brain will think better… your blood pressure will lower… your heart will pump more efficiently… and your erections will get easier!
Here’s what really gets you in the mood
Nitric oxide is actually made and released by the lining of the blood vessels in your body (called the ‘endothelium’). However, the delicate endothelial lining is under constant attack by toxins (such as heavy metals), inflammation, saturated fats, and accumulated oxidative damage.
And, as it gets damaged, it slowly but surely loses its ability to efficiently produce nitric oxide, leading to a hardening of the arteries and restricted blood flow. This is why it is critical to take care of your body and to prevent the plaque build-up in the body – because the depletion of nitric oxide is the leading cause of high blood pressure and heart attacks!
And it could also be why you’re lacking the ‘vroom’ in the bedroom. There are a lot of people who mistakenly think that ‘male enhancement’ drugs like Cialis, Viagra, and Levitra work by increasing your libido. And while that certainly may happen as a result of getting your mojo back, what these drugs really bring to the table is blood flow – and they do this by increasing your body’s own stores of nitric oxide in the pelvis.
There are times when drugs such as this really force the medical world – including the, integrative medical world – to take notice and changes the way that we practice and look at disease. Cialis has really opened my eyes – as well as the conventional doctor’s eyes – about nitric oxide and, even more importantly, blood flow.
I’d even go so far as calling it a game-changing medication. Cialis for Daily Use in particular is actually a ‘triple threat,’ because by increasing blood flow, it also has been shown to:
1. reduce swollen prostates
2. improve difficulty urinating, and
3. lower blood pressure
With that being said, even though this drug sounds like a miracle, using it to raise your nitric oxide levels isn’t ideal. First of all, prolonged use of it creates a dependence. In addition, any drug that increases nitric oxide levels is fraught with side effects – because it’s forcing the human body to do something that it neither wants to do nor normally does.
To further complicate matters, nitric oxide is not a ‘stable’ molecule. Technically, it’s a gas, which makes it hard to isolate and impossible to detect in the blood. And because it’s meant to be a short-lived burst to open the arteries, it doesn’t last a long time in the human body.
Thus, increasing nitric oxide levels naturally is your best bet.
An easy and inexpensive way to test yourself
But first, it would help to figure out whether your nitric oxide levels really are low – or whether the issue could be hormonal or even physiological. Many of my patients have started to test their own nitric oxide levels in just seconds with test strips that are simple to use and available at a low price.
They’re long, thin strips that have a pad on the end with a substance that changes colours (to pink) when nitric oxide levels are present in the saliva. The pinker the response, the more nitric oxide.
I have started to recommend Berkeley Test Strips in my office quite regularly and they have proven to be worth their weight in gold. I have found them the most valuable in men who we are deciding on what to do about their frequent urination, low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and even high blood pressure.
If the results are normal, then I know that I can spend more time working on their hormone and testosterone levels. Yet if their levels are low, then I know that I need to spend some time either before or concurrently working on nitric oxide levels and arterial health.
It is best to start using the strips as a first morning test in order to get your baseline so that you know where you start. Since mouthwash and some toothpastes will interfere with the salivary measurements and oral production of nitric oxide, test yourself before using these products.
If the test strips show that your levels are low, you can work with your doctor on a plan to incorporate some dietary and lifestyle changes that will help boost them (and give you a
boost in the bedroom, too).
Stay strong to the finish There are many ways to raise nitric oxide levels naturally with superfoods and supplements – and we can start with the story of Popeye.
Spinach was what gave the famous sailor man all that power but what you may not know is that spinach is LOADED with nitrates – and your body converts nitrates to nitric oxide.
There’s a misconception that spinach has a lot of iron it, but it is true that the nitrates in spinach help the body and muscles get more blood through its direct action on nitric oxide.
In addition to spinach, there are other nitrate-rich superfoods that Popeye could have used for his muscles – like beetroot, carrots, and arugula (sometimes packaged as ‘rocket’ or ‘roquette’). In fact, many of the supplements that are touted for lowering blood pressure and increasing nitric oxide are actually made from beetroot!4
In addition to eating foods that are high in nitrates for direct nitric oxide production, there are other foods and supplements that you can take that will help increase the levels of nitric oxide in your bloodstream, each in their own way.
There’s a lot of talk that nitrates are ‘bad’ for you, but there’s a difference between the natural nitrates that are found in the wonderful foods listed here, versus the nitrates that are placed in cured meats (sodium nitrite) to protect them from botulism infection and to give them a specific colour.
Foods such as garlic, cocoa, pomegranate, vitamin C and all the other citrus fruits can also help raise nitric oxide levels,5 as can supplements such as citrulline, arginine, pycnogenol, quercetin, and the aptly-named herb ‘horny goat weed’.6 I would not be able to sleep tonight if I didn’t mention that exercise also has been shown to increase nitric oxide levels as well.
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Vol. 10, Issue 11 • November 2016
Full references and citations for this article are available in the downloadable PDF version of the monthly Nutrition and Healing issue in which this article appears.