We all know that those Mediterraneans have it pretty good – nice weather, good food, relaxed lifestyle, lovely countryside, etc, etc, ad nauseam. Well, it’s not news that a major factor behind why the locals seem to have long, relatively disease-free lives is largely a result of their diet: lots of unsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil), fish, nuts and so on.
An article cited on Twitter recently caught my eye, as it would appear that scientists (yep, them again) have shown that said diet can also significantly improve erectile dysfunction.
Actually, this is also not surprising. Systemic damage to the vasculature is exactly that – if you have managed to screw up your arteries and veins in your heart and brain, there’s no reason why the same damage hasn’t been done to the rather more delicate issues located elsewhere. However, what got me thinking was how this study was run… Think about it, and then tell me honestly how you think the experiment was conducted…? 😉
A little research on PubMed pulled up another scientist who quite clearly chose a much more interesting field of study than mine ever was – take a bow, Katherine Esposito of the University of Naples, who published this in 2006:
Esposito K, et al. Mediterranean diet improves erectile function in subjects with the metabolic syndrome. Int J Impot Res 2006;18(4):405-10.
Men with the metabolic syndrome demonstrate an increased prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED). In the present study, we tested the effect of a Mediterranean-style diet on ED in men with the metabolic syndrome. Men were identified in our database of subjects participating in controlled trials evaluating the effect of lifestyle changes and were included if they had a diagnosis of ED associated with a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, complete follow-up in the study trial, and intervention focused mainly on dietary changes. Sixty-five men with the metabolic syndrome met the inclusion/exclusion criteria; 35 out of them were assigned to the Mediterranean-style diet and 30 to the control diet. After 2 years, men on the Mediterranean diet consumed more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grain, and olive oil as compared with men on the control diet. Endothelial function score and inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein) improved in the intervention group, but remained stable in the control group. There were 13 men in the intervention group and two in the control group (P=0.015) that reported an IIEF score of 22 or higher. Mediterranean-style diet rich in whole grain, fruits, vegetables, legumes, walnut, and olive oil might be effective per se in reducing the prevalence of ED in men with the metabolic syndrome.
Turns out Dr Esposito didn’t feed a bunch of fat blokes olive oil and garlic, show them porn and then whip out a tape measure… The participants stuck to a diet and then ‘self-reported their sexual performance’ using the International Index of Erectile Function questionnaire. Not quite as fun, I’m sure you’ll agree.
My suggestion for Dr Esposito’s next study is to determine whether there is a direct inverse correlation between increased sexual performance following adherence to a Mediterranean diet including lots of stinky garlic, and the number of opportunities to make use of that increased performance… 😉