What Is "Better Sex"? (and What Does Food Have To Do With It?)
Impotence is usually a problem of the dinner table, not the bedroom.
--DR. JOHN A. MCDOUGALL, M.D.
It's safe to say that all of us want better sex. No matter how exciting or fulfilling our sex life is, it could always be better. Why? I think it's because our sexuality encompasses so much of who we are. It's the most complete expression of our life force, and it's the sublime bridge that connects us to other human beings. Across that bridge lie intimacy, pleasure, passion, union, commitment and love.
For me, love is the single best reason to work at preserving and enhancing our sexual vitality. Being loved and loving someone in a committed relationship strikes at the very core of our being. Our sexuality is a precious gift that we bring to our most important love relationships, a gift of intimacy and pleasure we confer on our lovers. But if we don't take care of our bodies and our sexual health, if our sexual vitality is impaired, so is our ability to express love.
Concerning the importance of sex in a relationship, sex counselor Nina Miller remarks, "Good sex will not turn a bad relationship into a good one, but bad sex can completely wreck a good relationship." Miller adds, "Good sex is worth about 20 percent in a relationship, but bad sex can contaminate 80 percent."
Just what is "better sex"?
Better sex means different things to different people. More passion. More intimacy and emotional fulfillment. More sensation. Or simply more sex. For me, better sex means increased sexual vitality and the heightened level of intimacy that sexual vitality engenders. Sexual vitality is the driving force in our lives, sexual and otherwise. And the food we eat is the fuel that feeds our sexual drive.
This book is about the relationship between what we eat and how we feel--specifically, how we feel sexually. It's based on new studies by some of the most respected medical researchers and institutions in the United States. And it's based on my two decades of professional experience as a medical reporter and low-fat cook.
I wrote this book because potency problems are so widespread in our society--and are still so misunderstood. More and more men are rushing headlong into drug and surgical therapies for impotence, while the preponderance of new scientific research is pointing increasingly to dietary causes and remedies.
The food/sex connection is actually quite simple: Men need clear arteries for erections. Women also need clear arteries to achieve optimal arousal, including clitoral erections. When we clog up our arteries with fatty foods, we are shutting down our sexual response in much the same way that we are damaging our heart and its circulatory functions. In fact, potency problems are a prime indicator of heart disease. When a patient complains of erectile dysfunction, he is often given a complete cardiovascular workup to see if he is at risk for a heart attack or stroke. That's how convinced urologists are about the connection between circulatory and potency problems.
It is now accepted wisdom among urologists and other health experts that the most common cause of erectile dysfunction is interference with blood flow to the genitals. Astudy published in the highly respected medical journal Lancet reports that in 80 percent of cases, impotence is caused by atherosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries) in the four main arteries of the penis. And according to the American Heart Association, elevated cholesterol, a warning sign of atherosclerosis, affects an astonishing half of all American men and a third of all women over the age of 24. Not age 64, age 24.
How common are potency problems? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 30 million American men suffer from varying degrees of erectile dysfunction. The recent Massachusetts Male Aging Study, co-authored by Dr. Irwin Goldstein, found that 22 percent of 40-year-olds and 49 percent of 70-year-olds experience moderate to severe degrees of impotence. Yet that same study also found that impotence is caused not by aging, but by other risk factors such as heart disease, high cholesterol levels and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.
Of course, sexual vitality encompasses more than potency. But sexual health and energy begin with efficient circulation--to all parts of the body. The good news is that enhanced sexual vitality and potency is something nearly all of us can have, if only we understand the connection between food and sex, and if we act on that knowledge.
The Better Sex Diet is an eating and lifestyle plan designed to increase your sexual vitality in six weeks and to maintain it throughout your entire lifetime. The best news of all is that you don't have to give up the pleasure of eating great-tasting food to reap the benefits. When you follow the Better Sex Diet, you'll not only be eating some of the tastiest meals of your life, but you'll also feel better and look better. You may also lose weight, though weight loss is not the primary goal of this diet. And you'll have more energy--sexual and otherwise--than you've had in years. All you have to give up are some of the unhealthy habitsthat are impeding the sexual vitality your body naturally generates.
Doesn't it make sense to take care of the one body you will have all your life? If you knew you were going to have only one car in your whole life, wouldn't you take excellent care of it? You'd have the car serviced when needed and change the oil, filters and hoses regularly. You'd keep up the maintenance even if you had the car for only five or ten years. Think how careful we are about what kind of gas we put into our cars. Now think about how heedless we often are about the fuel we feed ourselves, not to mention all the other ways we mistreat our irreplaceable and miraculous bodies.
True, body maintenance becomes more of a nuisance as we age, but it's the only body we will ever have. Unfortunately, Americans are terribly short-sighted when it comes to taking care of our bodies. Thirty percent of us are not only overweight, but clinically obese. Only 10 percent of us get available diagnostic testing for serious diseases like cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and hypertension--all manageable conditions if detected early enough.
And we are incredibly cavalier about our sexual health. I'm not even talking about sexually transmitted diseases. I'm talking about health issues that have a direct effect on our sexual vitality. According to Dr. Irwin Goldstein, a urologist and one of the leading experts on male potency, 25 percent of all men suffer from moderate impotence, yet they have no idea why or what they can do about it.
Contrary to the long-held belief that impotence is primarily a psychological problem, researchers have confirmed that the large majority of cases have a physical cause. And reduced potency is not a natural part of aging. Experts have found that if nothing physical interferes with erectile response, men can enjoy sexual intercourse well into their90s. That means that if you're now in your 40s, you could have half a century of sex still ahead of you. An elderly male friend of mine once confided to me, "If I'd known that I'd still be so interested in sex at my age, I'd have taken much better care of myself."
This book is not about philosophy. It is about the relationship between food and sex. Researchers and doctors are telling us that food has a close relationship with sex--whether you're having it tonight, tomorrow morning (when a man's testosterone level is highest), 5 years from now or 45 years from now.
Whether your style of loving is athletic or languid, tentative or completely uninhibited (or some combination), the delicious food in the Better Sex Diet is designed to give you the base level of good health you need for good loving. Healthful, nutritious, and well-prepared low-fat food tastes good. If you don't enjoy the taste of healthful food, you won't eat it. My goal is to create recipes you will like, using foods that aren't laden with fat. Over the past five years, in my three previous cookbooks and on both of my television cooking shows--"The Low Cholesterol Gourmet" on The Discovery Channel and "Lynn Fischer's Healthy Indulgences" on PBS--I've shown millions of people that you don't need to give up taste when you give up fat.
The Better Sex Diet contains more than ninety delicious and easy-to-follow recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I've also included clear preparation steps, so if you can read, you can cook these meals--even if you've never cooked before. And there are lots of tips and hints to lower the fat in your own favorite recipes so you can incorporate them into the diet as well. I even tell you how to order fast foods and restaurant foods that are low in fat.
But the Better Sex Diet is much more than just a low-fat diet. It's a comprehensive health plan that encompasses the most up-to-date research about how lifestyle factors suchas nutrition, exercise and stress management can build up your sexual vitality. The Better Sex Diet replaces risk factors for impaired potency--including drugs and alcohol, smoking, stress, lack of exercise and midlife aging--with healthy lifestyle habits that will enhance your sexual energy by naturally increasing the level of sexual hormones in your metabolism and increasing blood flow to your vital organs.
As an added bonus, I'll update you on what the latest scientific research is revealing about sex-enhancing foods and food supplements--what used to be called aphrodisiacs, but which are now more commonly referred to as pro-sex foods. Modern scientists are relatively recent entrants into the age-old quest for aphrodisiacs, and they've already uncovered some fascinating findings about which foods can enhance sexual response and which can depress it.
A personal note on why I wrote this book:
I began writing The Better Sex Diet about eight years ago because a man I was dating asked me to. At the time, I was separated and living alone in another city while the details of my divorce after a long marriage were being worked out. Although our dates were romantic, there wasn't much romance in the bedroom at first, primarily because of our busy schedules. I was happy to go slowly, though. I had dated other men since my separation, but this was my first romance, and I wanted to take my time getting to know the man before we moved on to a more committed sexual relationship.
I was also busy getting my life in order--traveling back and forth between Virginia Beach and Washington, D.C., writing my first low-cholesterol cookbook, and covering the medical beat for the Fox TV station in Washington. Over the course of several weeks, before we became intimate, I encouraged this man to exercise and to eat very low fat. Itried out recipes on him and, gradually, as his diet became consistently low in fat, our relationship became sexual. He was a wonderful lover--tender, passionate and caring, though he was in his mid-60s, a good deal older than I. I had no idea he had been impotent for several years.
Finally, he confided his transformation to me. He was a little sheepish about his previous condition and astounded at the change he had undergone. He had not had a sexual relationship for a decade and had given up hope of ever regaining his sexual vitality. He was incredulous: Not only was he potent again, but he said the sex was "phenomenal."
The diet plan I created for him, the same diet plan that is in this book, helped him lose an excess 20 pounds. (It's the same diet I put my ex-husband on, and it lowered his cholesterol count by 100 points.) While on this diet, my new friend also began exercising moderately three times a week. He had much more energy than before, and for the first time in many years, he felt wonderful. I should note that it wasn't his romantic relationship with me that gave him all this new vim and vigor. Emotionally, he was on a roller coaster. His business partnership was failing, one of his children was in trouble and his political future was in jeopardy. Sexual potency usually responds negatively in such stressful situations, yet his had improved dramatically.
My friend claimed that I had changed his entire life. He told me how important it was to him as a man to have sex in his life and to be able to be sexual with someone he loved. He urged me to write a book detailing this "better sex" diet so that other men and other couples could reap its benefits.
In the intervening years, hundreds of my fans have written to tell me about the dramatic improvement in their sex lives since they went on low-fat diets. I've heard similar reports from urologists and heart doctors who have recommended low-fat diets to their patients. And in just the past 18 months, several important medical studies have confirmedthis anecdotal and commonsense link between a low-fat diet and enhanced sexual vitality.
So here's The Better Sex Diet, finally in book form. Now it's your turn. Only you can take responsibility for your health and your happiness. I'm convinced that any small step you take to improve your sexual health will enhance the overall quality of your life. And I want you to have it all. You deserve a long and happy life, running up those stairs, skiing down those mountains and--most of all--making love to someone you care about for the rest of your life.
To your health--and your happiness!
Copyright © 1996 by Lynn Fischer's Healthy Living, Inc.