One of the big culprits, for both men and women, is obesity. As a person's weight soars, their libido plummets, due to biochemical changes that diminish blood flow. Extra weight also hinders their ability to have children—with men, it's damaged sperm; with women, it's ovulation problems. (Manage your weight with more than just food intake: Try these downloadable fitness plans.)
The good news: With some simple changes to your diet, courtesy of the latest research from Eat This, Not That!, you can revitalize your relationship and dramatically improve your health.
Chocolate is full of anandamide and phenylethylamine, two compounds that cause the body to release the same feel-good endorphins triggered by sex and physical exertion. Cocoa also contains methylxanthines, which make skin sensitive to every touch. Aim for dark chocolate, which packs more cocoa than lighter milk chocolates, and keep portions small. (Click here for more great nutrition secrets like these.)
Not That!WHITE CHOCOLATE
White chocolate isn't technically chocolate, since it doesn't contain any actual cocoa—which means no heightened skin sensitivity, or rush of the feel-good hormone serotonin. (Check out our slideshow of the 30 Worst Foods in
6-OZ SIRLOIN STEAK - 414 calories24 g fat (10 g saturated)46 g protein
Protein has been shown to naturally boost levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, two chemicals in the brain that heighten sensitivity during sex. Your steak is also packed with zinc—a mineral that boosts libido by reducing production of a hormone called prolactin, which may interfere with arousal.
Not That!AN ENERGY DRINK
While the caffeine and sky-high sugar content will initially leave you bursting with energy, you're setting yourself up for a major crash not far down the line. Additionally, Canadian scientists found that maintaining a diet high in sugar can temporarily lower your testosterone levels, which in turn can sap your sex drive—whether you're a man or a woman. See, the more testosterone you have, the higher your arousal levels. Too much sugar sends your T into hibernation—and your libido along with it. (See our story about the 20 unhealthiest drinks in America.)
A 5-OZ GLASS OF WINE125 calories0 g fat1 g sugar
It's true: a glass of wine really does take the edge off. University of Toronto researchers discovered that one alcoholic drink caused people's blood vessels to relax. Booze acts as a depressant in the brain's cerebral cortex, lowering inhibitions that could otherwise restrain arousal.
Not That!A HALF BOTTLE OF WINE The University of Toronto researchers who found out about wine's relaxing effects also found that drinking more than two glasses of alcohol began to reverse the effects. And research from the University of Washington found that intoxicated men with blood alcohol levels of 0.08 to 0.1 percent (often three drinks or more) were negatively affected as well.
½ CUP VANILLA ICE CREAM - 137 calories7 g fat (4 g saturated)14 g sugars2 g protein
Ice cream has high levels of calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that build your muscles' energy reserves and boost your libido. All that calcium—200 milligrams in the typical bowl—can also make you more sexually charged, since the muscles that control sexual response need calcium in order to contract properly.
They're great for you in other ways, but tomatoes' lycopene and phytofluene can decrease testosterone levels. The effect isn't dramatic, but you may be better off skipping the marinara sauce if you want to get saucy.