Let’s talk about the “S” word. New research shows that sex can help keep your mind sharp as tack as you grow older — and I’m not surprised.
Sex can be a great tool for protecting or improving your health
Researchers in the U.K. recently tested more than 6,800 people between the ages of 50 and 89. Those with active sex lives scored an amazing 23% higher on cognitive word tests than those with inactive sex lives.1
That’s because your sex hormones are linked to your brain’s reward center. And reward processing plays a fundamental role in motivation, learning and cognition — both for men and women.
Here at the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging Medicine, I tell my patients that age should not be an issue when it comes to sex. Older people who engage in regular sexual activity have better brain health and are less likely to lose memory.
Why is sex good for you?
Sex stimulates your brain and helps fight dementia.
And contrary to what you might hear from health experts about “slowing down,” it’s natural to have sex well into your 70s and 80s.2
Sex has so many health benefits, I wish I could write prescriptions for it.
In a minute, I’m going to tell you about some of the natural sex boosters I recommend to my patients.
But first, let’s take a look at the weight of the research evidence, which shows just how good regular sexual activity is for you.
Numerous studies of older people’s lifestyles, including 70-somethings, reveal that regular sex can help you live a longer and more active life.3,4
And a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that men who have sex at least four times a week were 30% less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who had sex twice a week or less.5
In other studies, men who had sex at least twice a week were 50% less likely to develop heart disease than those who had sex once a month.6
But your brain is one of the biggest beneficiaries.
What are the benefits of sex?
Regular sex can also relieve migraine headaches, and stave off stress, depression and other mental illnesses.7,8,9,10
You see, the latest developments in neuroscience show that the brain’s reward system is a neural circuit that induces the feeling of pleasure when triggered by something we enjoy, like food or good music.
That’s why the reward pathway has evolved to fulfill the human species’ drive to survive — and so we derive pleasure from things like eating and sex.
And that’s why I always recommend natural ways to boost your sex life — remedies that have worked for millennia without side effects.
Here are three of my favorite natural sex boosters:
- L-arginine and L-citrulline: I recommend patients — both men and women — adopt a diet rich in these biochemical cousins. They’re amino acids that team up to create nitric oxide, which boosts blood flow to give your lovemaking a real lift.11,12
Great food sources include: peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, tuna, chicken, salmon, shrimp, eggs and watermelon.
Supplement capsules are available online and from most health food stores. I recommend daily doses of 1,000 mg of L-citrulline and 6,000 mg of L-arginine.
- Beet juice: The Romans are known to have drank beet juice two hours before having sex. It has also been shown to heighten your bedroom performance of both men and women by raising nitric oxide levels. The beet’s ability to improve circulation has been documented in numerous studies.13
Beet juice also contains boron, a mineral that stimulates men’s bodies to produce testosterone.14 Drink it straight or mix a teaspoon of beet powder into fruit juice. You can also get beet capsules online or from health food stores. I recommend 1,000 mg a day.
- Fenugreek: This Mediterranean herb has been used to treat manly dysfunction by healers for centuries. Recent scientific studies confirm that fenugreek helps the body increase testosterone levels.15 And it’s also been shown to enhance a woman’s libido.
You can buy fenugreek at Indian specialty grocers. Or you can take supplements, which come as seeds, powders or capsules. I recommend 500 mg a day.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Wright H, Jenks RA. Sex on the brain! Associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in older age. Age Ageing. 2016 Jan 28. pii: afv197. [Epub ahead of print]
2. Lee, D.M., et al. “Sexual health and well-being among older men and women in England: Findings from the English longitudinal study of ageing.” Archives of Sexual Behavior. January 27, 2015. DOI: 10.1007/s10508-014-0465-1. Print ISSN: 1573-2800.
3. Smith, G.E., et al. “Sex and death: Are they related? Findings from the Caerphilly Cohort Study.” British Medical Journal. December 20-27, 1997. 315, 1641-4.
4. Persson, G.”Five-year mortality in a 70-year-old urban population in relation to psychiatric diagnosis, personality, sexuality and early parental death.”Acta Psychiatrica.1981 Sep;64 (3):244-53.
5. Leitzmann, M. F., et al. “Ejaculation frequency and subsequent risk of prostate cancer.” JAMA. 291(13), 1978-86. 5.
6. Lee, D.M., Nazroo j, Pendleton N. International Journal of Impotence Research 27, 146-151 (July/Aug) | doi:10.1038/ijir.2015.4
7. Nicolosi, Alfredo, et al. “A population study of the association between sexual function, sexual satisfaction, and depressive symptoms in men.” Journal of Affective Disorders. 82, 235-43.
8. Evans, R.W. and Couch, J.R. “Orgasm and migraine.” Headache. 41, 512-4.
9. Nicolosi, Alfredo, et al. “A population study of the association between sexual function, sexual satisfaction, and depressive symptoms in men.” Journal of Affective Disorders. 82, 235-43.
10. Stiefelhagen, S. “The social-erotic services.” Presentation in the Symposium on Sexuality, Relationships and Psychiatry. Eindhoven, Rutgers Foundation. As cited in Gianotten, et al., 2007.
11. Boger, R.H., et al.”Restoring vascular nitric oxide formation by L-arginine improves the symptoms of intermittent claudication in patients with peripheral arterial occlusive disease.” J Am Coll Cardiol. 1998 Nov;32(5):1336-44.
12. Cormio L et al. “Oral L-citrulline supplementation improves erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction.” Urology, 2011 Jan; 77(1): 119-22
13. Hobbs, D.A., et al.”Acute ingestion of beetroot bread increases endothelium-independent vasodilation and lowers diastolic blood pressure in healthy men: A randomized controlled trial.” J Nutr. 2013 Sep;143(9):1399-405. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.175778. Epub 2013 Jul 24.
14. Naghii, M.R., and Samman, S. “The role of boron in nuitrition and metabolism.” Prog Food Nutr Sci. 1993 Oct-Dec; 17 (4): 331-49.
15. Steels, E. et al. “Physiological Aspects of Male Libido Enhanced by Standardized Trigonella foenum-graecum Extract and Mineral Formulation. Phototherapy Research. Vol 25, issue 9 pages 1294-1300, Sep 2011.