Getting an erection used to be so easy. Look at a hot babe, boom! Think of a hot babe, boom! Wake up in the morning, boom! Now, not so much. What is going on? In order to have an erection, your heart needs to pump extra blood to the arteries that lead to your penis. If your heart can barely keep enough blood pumping to keep you alive, it does not have the reserve or capacity to also pump extra blood to your penis. There may be other reasons preventing you from getting an erection as well.
We have all heard about cholesterol blockages of the coronary arteries. Other arteries in your body can have cholesterol blockages; your carotid arteries which deliver blood to your brain, arteries that feed your spine (this is a cause of severe back pain) and if the arteries leading to the penis are blocked, getting and maintaining an erection is difficult. Chronic high blood pressure can lead to stiff arteries that can’t widen to accommodate the increased blood flow necessary for an erection. So, a heart that is not in good shape, cholesterol blockages, and high blood pressure, as well as a few select drugs are all causes of erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction may be the first sign you notice that there is something wrong with your cardiovascular system. You may be a little or even more than a little overweight. Your cholesterol has been creeping up. You are probably out of shape. Your diet is less than stellar. If you stay on this path, you will have your cardiologist’s phone number on speed dial. There may be stents in your future. You may even get to spend a few nights in the coronary intensive care unit after your angioplasty. The erectile dysfunction is the proverbial canary in the coal mine.
Heed the warning.
Cialis and or Viagra will get you out of the immediate jam you are in, but they will not fix the real problem, which is that you either have an out of shape heart or a circulatory system clogged by cholesterol because of hypertension. Having a heart attack is a distinct possibility. Half of all heart attacks are fatal. You might think you can make an end run around this problem and just start taking statins with your Cialis or Viagra. But did you know, the leading cause of death for people taking a statin is a heart attack?
If you commit to cleaning up your diet with a whole-foods, plant-based, no-added-fat diet and you start exercising, you can expect to have erections the old fashioned way within a year. You would also reduce your risk of having a heart attack to virtually zero. You would reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as well as lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. Your risk of dying from all causes would be reduced not by a little, but by a lot. Upwards of 30 percent, in fact. If a drug existed that would deliver those results, it would be a blockbuster! Well, this is a better and more powerful plan for you than any drug currently on the market!
But, what is a whole-foods, plant-based, no-added-fat diet? It is simple, really. Plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds and beans. Lentil soup, hummus with a whole wheat pita and whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce are examples whole grain recipes; all are plant-based and contain no added fat.
I just moved to Las Vegas and live among a vibrant vegan culture with plenty of restaurants serving delicious whole food meals. San Francisco, Portland, New York, and Los Angeles have terrific vegan restaurants (just to name a few cities.)
Many cuisines are plant-based or vegan. Middle Eastern restaurants often serve meat-free dishes like hummus, salads dressed with tahini sauce, grilled vegetables and rice. Indian restaurants offer many vegan dishes because a lot of people in India are vegan and vegetarian. Ethiopian restaurants also have wonderful vegan food because some Ethiopians fast two days a week when eating meat is a taboo.
The biggest driver of health is how you eat.
It is impossible to be truly healthy if you are not eating a healthy diet. It used to be that heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes were diseases of the elderly in the United State. Unfortunately, these conditions are striking at an earlier and earlier age. Autopsies performed on young people who have died in accidents have shown fatty streaks in their coronary arteries—the beginning of heart disease in teenagers! So, eating a healthy diet is the first and most important step.
It is also important to exercise vigorously for 30 to 60 minutes a day. I know, you are busy. If you are so busy, how are you going to find the time to go through cardiac rehab after your heart attack? Trust me, that’s a huge chunk of time. Waiting for the doctor, waiting for all the tests, waiting at the pharmacy, waiting for the ambulance.
You get the point. Now, hopefully, you will take the time to do something about it!
Photo credit: Getty Images