These days, when it comes to erectile dysfunction (ED), most men reach for pharmaceuticals to improve sexual function. However, while the popular ED medications work to remedy the immediate situation, they are not designed to eliminate the root cause of the issue, which is often an underlying health condition—in most cases, poor blood flow that could be related to diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, or metabolic syndrome.
Testing and treatment for these conditions is an important step in developing treatment options for ED, and there are many supplements that can help. Researchers have uncovered several natural options that men can use to treat or even prevent the condition—something men of all ages should consider for their overall health.
Four Simple Ways to Help Prevent or Treat Erectile Dysfunction
1. Eat flavonoid-rich foods
A study published in the January 2016 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests a diet rich in flavonoid-rich foods can reduce the risk of ED. Men who ate more fruit had a 14 percent reduced risk of ED. Men who consumed a high volume of flavonoid-rich fruits and exercised regularly experienced a 21 percent reduction of risk. Foods such as blueberries, cherries, blackberries, radishes, citrus fruits, and red wine offered the flavonoid profile with the greatest benefits.
2. Try supplements
Specially formulated supplements can help target the root cause of ED, and supplementing arginine in conjunction with a balanced lifestyle can offer men added support for a healthy erection. L-arginine is an amino acid that naturally occurs in the body and helps synthesize proteins. It is also the precursor to the compound nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is vital for achieving and maintaining an erection, as it helps the blood vessels relax to support blood flow throughout the body, including into the penis.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
Added pounds can have a significant impact on blood flow, as well as put men at risk for diseases that may exacerbate ED. A study published in the January 2005 issue of the journal Canadian Family Physician found 30 percent of men who participated in a weight loss program and lost an average of 15 percent of their total body weight saw sexual function restored compared to only 5 percent of the control group.
4. Consider hormone therapy
Hormone imbalance, particularly low testosterone, can also play a role in ED. Men can naturally increase testosterone levels by routinely engaging in weight training exercises. For aging men whose testosterone levels have dipped, hormone therapy is a safe and effective treatment option.
More than 40 percent of men over the age of 40 struggle with ED. Men who have ED should not ignore the ailment and should talk to their doctor about potential causes and treatment options, as well as make lifestyle changes to reduce incidence. Young men should take preventive steps, including the development of healthy lifestyle habits, like eating a balanced diet, taking supplements, and maintaining a healthy weight, which can reduce their risk of ED.
This post, in an altered form, originally appeared on Fox News, where I’m a regular contributor.