At any age, most men have erection problems every now and then. So, let’s see what is needed for the organ in question proper functioning, how Viagra works and why some foods are better than Viagra.

In this article, we’ll consider the following issues:

  • How erection happens
  • How common erectile dysfunction is
  • Main reasons for erectile dysfunction
  • How Viagra works
  • Side Effects of Viagra
  • Nutrients essential for men’s health
  • 7 Foods better than Viagra

How erection happens

Generally, an erection can be triggered by two mechanisms:

  1. Managed by the brain (central nervous system): In this case signals are sent from the brain to the penis and the erection is achieved by erotic or emotional stimuli.
  2. Managed by an autonomic peripheral nervous system: It is the mechanical stimulation with minimal input from the central nervous system and is therefore not entirely under conscious control.

In both cases, the nervous system releases neurotransmitters (chemicals released by nerve cells to send signals to other cells) which, in turn, lead to the secretion of nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide widens arteries and blood vessels improving blood flow and relaxes smooth muscles (the main erectile tissue) of the penis. The arteries dilate causing the erectile tissue of the penis to fill with blood; simultaneously the other group of muscles compress the veins of the erectile tissue restricting the egress and circulation of this blood. Erection subsides when nervous activity reduces to baseline [1].

Acetylcholine is an organic chemical that functions in the brain and body as a neurotransmitter. Additionally, adequate levels of testosterone (secreted by the testicles) and hormones secreted by the pituitary gland are required for the development of a healthy erectile system. The pituitary gland, or hypophysis, is a pea-sized structure located at the base of the brain, just below the hypothalamus, which produces critical hormones that control all functions of the sex organs.

To create an erection, nerves, neurotransmitters, muscles, blood vessels, enzymes and hormones have to work together. Penile erection is the result of a complex interaction of psychological, neural, vascular and endocrine factors.

Main reasons for erectile dysfunction

7 Foods Better Than ViagraAs can be understood from the mechanisms of a normal erection, erectile dysfunction can occur due to both physiological and psychological reasons.

  1. Physiological reasons: hormonal deficiency, disorders of the neural system, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, side effects of certain medicines, and too much alcohol or smoking.
  2. Psychological reasons: when erection fails due to thoughts or feelings rather than physical impossibility such as stress, anxiety, depression, relationship conflicts, worry over not being able to achieve or maintain an erection

Although there are many different reasons for erectile dysfunction, healthy men’s sex life boils down to three areas:

  1. Adequate and balanced hormone production
  2. Good blood circulation
  3. Psychological and emotional health

How common erectile dysfunction is

Erectile dysfunction is very common. Only in the United States, it affects about 30 million men [2]. It is suggested that approximately 40% of males have erectile problems, at least occasionally [3].

How Viagra Works

7 Foods Better Than ViagraUltimately, the cause for erectile dysfunction is that not enough nitric oxide is released. Viagra is the brand name of a medication called sildenafil that promotes secretion of nitric oxide. Viagra acts as an inhibitor of one enzyme (PDE5) that deactivates another enzyme (cGMP), which is responsible for blood flow in the penis. Nitric oxide increases levels of cGMP, leading to smooth muscle relaxation and increased inflow of blood into the spongy tissue of the penis, causing an erection [4]. Other drugs that operate by the same mechanism include tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra).

Robert F. Furchgott, Ferid Murad, and Louis Ignarro won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1998 for their independent study of the metabolic pathway of nitric oxide in smooth muscle vasodilation.

Side Effects of Viagra

In numerous clinical trials, it was shown that common side effects include the following:

  • headache, heartburn, flushed skin, indigestion, sudden-onset hearing loss, and nasal congestion
  • prolonged erections, which can lead to damage to the penis [5]
  • impaired vision, including photophobia, loss of peripheral vision, blurred vision, and seeing everything tinted blue (cyanopsia) [6,7]

Viagra should not be taken by people who take nitrates such as nitroglycerin, as this may result in a severe and potentially fatal drop in blood pressure [8]. Rare but serious effects include heart attack, arrhythmias, and stroke [6].

Nutrients essential for men’s health

Foods from all groups have to be consumed to maintain good health. But some nutrients play very specific roles in males.

Zinc

7 Foods Better Than ViagraZinc is an essential nutrient that is of vital importance for all of us because it is required for the function of over 300 enzymes, but it is especially important for the men’s health. About 2-4 grams of zinc are distributed throughout the human body: in the brain, muscle, bones, kidney, and liver, with the highest concentrations in the prostate. Semen is particularly rich in zinc, a key factor in prostate gland function and reproductive organ growth.

  • Zinc helps improve sex drive working as natural Viagra.
  • Zinc improves testosterone and sperm production, although the mechanism isn’t fully understood.
  • Zinc helps improve prostate health

The Daily Value (DV) for zinc is 15mg. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of this mineral. Doses larger than 25 mg may cause anemia and copper deficiency. [9]

Amino Acid Arginine

7 Foods Better Than ViagraAmino acid arginine is converted in the body into nitric oxide, a key-factor of a good erection [10]. Viagra attempts to accomplish exactly the same effect but in a chemical and unnatural way.

Because the amino acid lysine uses the same transport system as arginine, arginine availability can potentially be affected by lysine, meaning foods with the best arginine to lysine ratio have to be chosen.

Arginine also increases the levels of sperm motility. It is a common practice in India to make the bride and the groom drink a glass of milk each, boiled with raisins (which are also rich in arginine) and a pinch of saffron on their wedding night.

Amino Acid Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that our body cannot produce and must be part of our daily diet. Tryptophan is a biochemical precursor for serotonin, which is a well-known hormone of happiness. It is a main contributor to many biochemical and physiological functions, including sexual. Serotonin produces your happiness, and amino acid tryptophan produces serotonin.

If you are in a good mood, you’ve got serotonin to thank; if not – you’ve got serotonin to blame. The major amount of serotonin exists in the intestine, and is governed by your state of hunger. Feel happier after lunch? That’s why.

The recommended daily intake for tryptophan is 4mg per kilogram of body weight (1.8mg per pound). So, a person weighing 70kg (about 154 pounds) should consume approximately 280mg of tryptophan per day.

Magnesium

7 Foods Better Than ViagraMagnesium has many duties in our body and calming down our nerves is one of them. Magnesium counterbalances calcium, thus helping to regulate nerve and muscle tone. It can affect muscle relaxation through direct action on cell membranes. Magnesium ions close certain types of calcium channels, which conduct positively charged calcium ions into neurons. By blocking calcium’s entry, magnesium keeps our nerves relaxed. With an excess of magnesium, more channels will be blocked and nerve cells activity will decrease.

Magnesium participates in a wide range of vitally important physiological functions, including the creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecules of your body), the synthesis of RNA and DNA, the pumping of your heart, proper bone and tooth formation, relaxation of your blood vessels, and proper bowel function.

Yet, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), an estimated 57% of Americans are deficient in this important mineral.

Carotenoid Lycopene

7 Foods Better Than ViagraA number of studies suggested that erectile dysfunction could be cured with lycopene. Lycopene naturally helps blood vessels to relax, which enhances circulation and, in turn, can improve blood flow in the penis and support a healthy erection. In a study published in Current Medicinal Chemistry, researchers suggested that lycopene prevents cardiovascular disease and thus erectile dysfunction as well [11].

The Observed Safe Level for lycopene is 75mg/day, according to one preliminary study (Shao A, Hathcock JN, 2006, “Risk assessment for the carotenoids lutein and lycopene”, “Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology”) [12].

Choline

7 Foods Better Than ViagraCholine is a water-soluble vitamin-like essential nutrient. Choline is the precursor molecule for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in secretion of nitric oxide [13].

Cholesterol

Like other steroid hormones, testosterone is derived from cholesterol in several biochemical steps [14].

It’s time for all of us to drastically change the way we think about cholesterol-containing foods, like eggs, shrimps, butter and cheese. Numerous studies and clinical research suggest that dietary cholesterol bears little impact on a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Health authorities of Canada, US and UK, which set their national nutrition guidelines, state that cholesterol is no longer considered a nutrient of concern [15, 16].

Vitamin B12

7 Foods Better Than ViagraVitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that performs many important functions in the human body. It can be found only in the foods of animal origin.

B12 has a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, the red blood cells formation, DNA synthesis, and fatty and amino acid metabolism. It improves men’s sexual health and contributes to the healthy sperm production. B12 deficiency can damage the nerves within the penis that can lead to erectile dysfunction [17].

In a study, 27% of men with abnormal sperm counts (below 20 million/ml) showed a significant increase in sperm count (more than 100 million/ml) after a daily dose of 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12 [18].

B12 has the greatest potential for improving erections, preventing impotence, and increasing libido.

The adequate intake of vitamin B12 for healthy adults is set at 4 micrograms per day.

7 Foods Better Than Viagra

  1. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are an edible Viagra that have 4 essential for sex life nutrients:

  • Zinc: A serving of 100g of pumpkin seeds provides 80% of the Daily Value for zinc, making pumpkin seeds one of the best sources of zinc.
  • Arginine: Pumpkin seeds are not only rich in arginine but also have the best arginine to lysine ratio.
  • Tryptophan: Pumpkin seeds are the best source of tryptophan ever – 576mg of tryptophan per 100g (206% DV), or 161mg of tryptophan per ounce (28g) (58% DV).
  • Magnesium: A 100-gramm serving of pumpkin seeds provides 155% of magnesium daily value! One-quarter cup of them contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium

Published in 2008 in the “Urology” journal, a randomized, placebo-controlled study treated 476 patients with lower urinary tract symptoms and benign prostatic hyperplasia with pumpkin seeds [19]. The results showed an improvement of 6.8 points, which was 1.2 points over the placebo group (the results of that size is rarely achieved).

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a healthy daily serving is approximately 2 tablespoons of raw pumpkin seeds. If you eat too many of them, don’t go far from the washroom; it’s the only side effect of this edible Viagra.

Pumpkin seeds are the safest and most effective choice in men’s health care. It usually enhances many life functions besides the specific condition for which it is being taken.

  1. Watermelon

A newly found natural aphrodisiac, watermelon works by relaxing blood vessels and improving blood circulation in the genitals. Two biochemicals in the watermelon are responsible for its aphrodisiac properties:

  • Amino acid citrulline: It is produced from arginine with release of nitric oxide. The highest concentration of citrulline is found in in watermelon rind. Twenty-four men with mild erectile dysfunction took either citrulline or a placebo for one month. When they took citrulline, 50% of the men experienced an improvement in erection hardness compared with only 8.3% when they took placebo [20].
  • Carotenoid lycopene: A 100-gram serving of watermelon contains 4532mcg of lycopene.

Watermelon’s diuretic properties can also help keep the urinary tract in healthy working order. Lycopene is an antioxidant that could possibly fight prostate cancer.

Try spritzing your watermelon rind with lemon juice and sprinkling some chili powder on it. Both additives are also good for your heart, and for the organ in question.

  1. Dark chocolate

7 Foods Better Than ViagraDark chocolate is an excellent source of many sex-friendly nutrients:

  • Magnesium – 228 mg/100g (70% DV)
  • Zinc – 31 mg/100g (35% DV)
  • Caffeine – 80 mg/100g
  • Cholesterol – 3 mg/100g
  • Vitamin B12 – 3% DV

Chocolate has also been shown to cause a spike in dopamine, which induces feelings of pleasure. From its taste to its aroma, chocolate is sensual and sexual, that’s why on Valentine’s Day chocolate reigns supreme.

  1. Oysters

7 Foods Better Than ViagraOysters have been considered the most notable aphrodisiac for ages, but only recently it was found that they are rich in nutrients that significantly improve sex life:

  • Zinc: Oysters are our best-known food source of zinc, a mineral that is critical for the production of testosterone. 100g of oysters contains 17mg of it, or 111% DV. Their impressive zinc content is the reason for oysters’ reputation as a natural Viagra.
  • Vitamin B12 – 260% DV (!)
  • Cholesterol – 71 mg – 23% DV
  • Amino acids that trigger production of sex hormones: A team of American and Italian researchers analyzed bivalves and found they were rich in amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones.[21]
  1. Sun-dried tomatoes

7 Foods Better Than ViagraSun-dried tomatoes are the best source of lycopene. Sun drying increases the concentration of bioavailable lycopene: sun-dried tomatoes contain up to 4 times more of it compared to raw tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes and serving in oil-rich dishes greatly increases absorption of lycopene from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. Due to the fact that lycopene is a fat-soluble carotenoid, experts advise to eat tomatoes with healthy fats to increase the absorption rate of lycopene by as much as five to seven times.

According to Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, lycopene-rich tomatoes linked to lower stroke and prostate cancer risks. Eating tomatoes in any form more than two times a week can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 21 to 43 percent. “We don’t really understand it entirely yet, but lycopene may have specific properties that protect the cell in a way other antioxidants may not.” [22]

  1. Eggs

7 Foods Better Than ViagraYes, the most commonly eaten chicken eggs that could be bought for $2 per dozen in any grocery store are, in fact, an edible Viagra. You wouldn’t be surprised if you look at their content:

  • Vitamin B12: Eggs are one of the best sources of vitamin B12 – 100 grams contain 50% DV
  • Cholesterol: The guidelines for daily cholesterol intake are set for 300mg. One egg contains about 160mg of cholesterol.
  • Zinc – 1 mg/100g (11% DV)
  • Choline: Eggs are one of the best sources of choline – 294 mg/100g (60% DV)
  • Amino acids: One large whole egg has about 13 grams of complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, including tryptophan, and non-essential arginine.

Besides, eggs supply several vitamins and minerals as significant amounts of the Daily Value, including vitamin A (19% DV), riboflavin (42% DV), pantothenic acid (28% DV), phosphorus (25% DV), vitamin D (15% DV), and healthy omega-3 fatty acids [23]

  1. Pistachios

Pistachios may help with erectile dysfunction because they are rich in the men’s health beneficial nutrients:

  • Arginine – 217 mg/100g (and have high arginine to lysine ratios)
  • Vitamin B6 – 1700 mg/100g (131% DV). Vitamin B6 helps to regulate testosterone levels, improve erectile dysfunction, and enhance libido (by decreasing the production of prolactin – a hormone that naturally reduces sex drive).
  • Magnesium – 121 mg/100g (34% DV)
  • Zinc – 2 mg/100g (23% DV)

A study investigated the effects of pistachios on International Index of Erectile Function scores and serum lipid levels in 17 married males with erectile dysfunctions. Patients were put on a 100 g pistachio nuts diet for 3 weeks. It was found that the pistachio diet improves erectile function parameters without any associated side effects. Furthermore, the lipid parameters showed statistically significant improvements after this diet [24].

Many foods can prevent or even cure erectile dysfunction, just like Viagra, but without harmful side-effects. Don’t believe it? It won’t hurt to try.

Additional resources:

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erection
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4004343/
  3. http://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(15)33117-9/fulltext
  4. http://www.ajconline.org/article/S0002-9149(99)00044-2/fulltext
  5. http://labeling.pfizer.com/ShowLabeling.aspx?id=652
  6. http://labeling.pfizer.com/ShowLabeling.aspx?id=652
  7. http://www.visionweb.com/content/consumers/dev_consumerarticles.jsp?RID=85
  8. https://www.drugs.com/monograph/sildenafil-citrate.html
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc
  10. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/134/10/2748S/4688471
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21291369
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16814439
  13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choline
  14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testosterone
  15. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/PDFs/Scientific-Report-of-the-2015-Dietary-Guidelines-Advisory-Committee.pdf
  16. http://time.com/3705734/cholesterol-dietary-guidelines/
  17. https://eddrugs2017.com/curing-erectile-dysfunction-vitamin-b/
  18. “Sandler B, Faragher B. (1984). Treatment of oligospermia with vitamin B12. Infertility, Volume 7:133–8.”
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2312341/
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21195829
  21. https://www.smh.com.au/articles/2005/03/23/1111525227607.html
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12424325
  23. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_as_food
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228801
(Visited 176 times, 1 visits today)