As you might remember from your high-school anatomy class, blood is what carries nutrients and oxygen throughout your body — responsible for proper functioning of all your organs. Naturally then, maintaining a healthy blood flow ensures that your body is working optimally, which includes your sexual performance, since erections are essentially the result of blood filling up relaxed arteries and the muscular tissue of the penis.
So if you’ve noticed lately that your erections are not as hard as they used to be, or don’t last as long — don’t panic yet! In fact, up to 40% of men under 40 report similar issues, most of which are caused by inhibiting your blood flow and are worse in those who have coronary disease.
Sounds pretty depressing, doesn’t it? But the good news is you can significantly reduce the chances of erectile dysfunction symptoms appearing again and again with a relatively straightforward shift to leading a healthier lifestyle.
Healthy Lifestyle For Healthy Erections
When your erections take a hit in quality, what you need to do, from a purely physiological standpoint, is to increase blood flow to penis by improving blood circulation throughout your body. Better blood circulation = better erections.
How do you do that? Get the foundational basics right. While we all know them, following them is a work of a lifetime. Eat healthy. Exercise regularly. Cut out cigarettes and moderate your alcohol consumption. Relax and try to alleviate stress. And, finally, don’t be afraid to make use of high-quality erectile dysfunction treatments, but only after consulting with a physician, of course.
Let’s dive into all of these for a much-needed refresher.
Eat and hydrate as you should
Since your blood flow is tasked with delivering nutrients to nourish all of your organs, those nutrients have to get there from somewhere first. And that’s not going to be a bag of chips you’ve devoured between meetings.
You generally want a diet composed of a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, as well as unsaturated fats and protein sources, while avoiding processed carbohydrates, trans fats and too much salt. Easier said than done, we know. But when it’s your sexual performance at stake — it might be a good incentive to really make an effort.
Besides, here are some foods that research has specifically linked with improved blood flow:
- Epidemiologic studies (according to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition) have shown that dietary flavonoids reduce the risk of cardiovascular irregularities. That means loading up on parsley, onions, blueberries, bananas, practically all citrus fruits as well as dark chocolate (70%+ cocoa) is a must.
- Nitric oxide has been studied extensively for improving blood flow, so paying special attention to cinnamon, leafy greens (such as spinach and arugula) and beetroots will do you lots of good
- Omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, sardines, flaxseed, walnuts, etc.) promote the release of nitric oxide, decrease blood pressure and support the proper functioning of the arterial system overall
There are also foods you’d want to say goodbye to, since they’ve been proven to have negative cardiovascular effects on your body — thus contributing to poor erectile performance:
- Sodium (basically, salt) is only needed in small doses for optimal health, which, trust us, you probably already get. The excessive intake of sodium, though, might cause your blood pressure to rise.
- Processed carbohydrates (especially sugar) increase the risk of developing diabetes, which in turn shows a strong correlation with erectile dysfunction
- Trans fats have so far been linked to inflammation, coronary disease and inhibiting the proper regulation of blood flow. Better to simply forget about margarine, processed snacks and fast food.
In addition, since blood is a fluid, make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day, consistently drinking small amounts of water to support the blood flow and keep the blood volume high for better erections overall.
Time to run
Most of us spend so much time sitting and very little time moving around, which strongly contributes to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer. Even with the inclusion of a short gym session, you might still spend over 10 hours sitting if you add up commute time, office work and Netflix after dinner.
The solution here is to keep on moving. Exercise daily with various degrees of intensity. Try biking or walking to work if possible to keep the blood circulating properly. Stand up from your desk frequently or, better yet, get a standing desk. It’s estimated than our hunter-gatherer ancestors walked up to 30 km daily, so you still have lots of ground to cover!
Do away with stress
In plain terms, not everything that affects your blood flow is physical. Stress, especially when chronic in nature, has been shown to have adverse effects on your cardiovascular system.
As you know, stress can arise from nearly any area of our lives, from relationships to work commitments to self-image. Hence you need to reduce exposure to stressful events and prioritize relaxation.
Sign up for a yoga class, take a day off to spend in nature, kickstart a simple 5-minute meditation habit, go to a comedy show, meet friends more often than you think you need to.
We have to be careful not to default to what’s commonly perceived as stress relievers but is in fact the opposite: nicotine and alcohol.
Nicotine (in all of its forms, including vaping), at the very least, leads to higher heartbeat and constricted arteries with suboptimal blood flow.
Alcohol, while ok in moderation, could also lead to premature ejaculation, low sexual desire and erectile dysfunction (as reported by 72% of subjects in one study). The most significant predictor of ED is the amount of alcohol consumed, so take it easy guys, binge drinking is not worth it.
Get a scientific boost
Depending on the level of erectile dysfunction symptoms you might be experiencing, various degrees of combining all of the above might not be enough. So here comes science with now common erectile dysfunction pills, such as sildenafil and tadalafil. Biologically, when you get aroused, you synthesize cGMP molecules, which signal the muscular tissue in the penis to relax and hence get filled with blood. Your erection subsides when another enzyme called PDE5 breaks cGMPs down. Sildenafil blocks PDE5, leaving you with better and longer-lasting erections.
So how do we increase blood flow to penis, after all? The answer is: take care of yourself holistically. Eat well, exercise, avoid stress and get help when you’re not sure. At Upguys we’re on a mission to make your life easier, with essential products, effective meds and timely professional advice from licensed physicians from across Canada when you need it. A good start in your journey — subscribe to our updates below to learn more about optimal health and our latest products there to help you. Up your game!