50 Shades of Greens

50 Shades of Greens
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Since both coronary heart disease and impotence can be reversed with a healthy diet, sexual dysfunction can be used as a motivator to change poor lifestyle habits.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Motivating patients to change…poor lifestyle habits can be extremely difficult. Preventing cardiovascular [events], such as [heart attacks] or stroke[s], are relatively distant benefits, whereas barbecued ribs, [and] cheesecake [or sitting on your butt], promises almost instant gratification.” So, public health experts are hoping that “prevention or improvement” of erectile dysfunction could be “a more immediate motivator that physicians can use to improve their patients’ lifestyle, and in turn their overall cardiovascular health.” That’s how doctors can “save a life during a clinic visit for erectile dysfunction.”

We used to think of erectile dysfunction in young men, in their 20s and 30s, as “psychogenic in origin”—meaning it’s all in their heads. But now, we’re realizing it’s more likely the early signs of vascular disease.

But even “[w]hen the penis heads in the wrong direction, the heart need not follow.” Atherosclerosis in both organs can be reversed with lifestyle changes. We know that “[A] substantial body of knowledge demonstrates that the abundant consumption of vegetables, fruit, and whole grain, and the dietary patterns rich in these foods, convey a markedly lower risk of coronary disease.”

So, they tried putting impotent men on a Mediterranean diet, the main characteristics of which include an abundance of plant food. 37% of the men on the Mediterranean diet for two years “regained…normal sexual function.” What about the diet appeared to do it? Improvements in erectile function were tied to five things: increased intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and, essentially, the ratio of plant to animal fats.

Similar benefits were found for women. The same kind of diet “significantly improved sexual function[s], together with a significant reduction of systemic…inflammation. As a whole, these findings suggest that a Mediterranean-style diet may be a safe strategy for amelioration of sexual function in women” with prediabetes or diabetes—significant improvement in sexual satisfaction on the healthier diet.

Why, though? Well, “[a]s dietary fiber may have anti-inflammatory roles, it may be due to the fiber content of [all those plants in] the Mediterranean diet,” magnified by all the antioxidants. This is the current thinking, given the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of a plant-based diet.

But, does it really matter why? “From a public health perspective, it may be unnecessary to elucidate every mechanism” of single components: let’s just recommend people to eat healthy—such as “decreasing fat and increasing whole grains and greens.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Thanks to Ellen Reid, Maxim Fetissenko, PhD, and Laurie-Marie Pisciotta for their Keynote help.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Motivating patients to change…poor lifestyle habits can be extremely difficult. Preventing cardiovascular [events], such as [heart attacks] or stroke[s], are relatively distant benefits, whereas barbecued ribs, [and] cheesecake [or sitting on your butt], promises almost instant gratification.” So, public health experts are hoping that “prevention or improvement” of erectile dysfunction could be “a more immediate motivator that physicians can use to improve their patients’ lifestyle, and in turn their overall cardiovascular health.” That’s how doctors can “save a life during a clinic visit for erectile dysfunction.”

We used to think of erectile dysfunction in young men, in their 20s and 30s, as “psychogenic in origin”—meaning it’s all in their heads. But now, we’re realizing it’s more likely the early signs of vascular disease.

But even “[w]hen the penis heads in the wrong direction, the heart need not follow.” Atherosclerosis in both organs can be reversed with lifestyle changes. We know that “[A] substantial body of knowledge demonstrates that the abundant consumption of vegetables, fruit, and whole grain, and the dietary patterns rich in these foods, convey a markedly lower risk of coronary disease.”

So, they tried putting impotent men on a Mediterranean diet, the main characteristics of which include an abundance of plant food. 37% of the men on the Mediterranean diet for two years “regained…normal sexual function.” What about the diet appeared to do it? Improvements in erectile function were tied to five things: increased intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and, essentially, the ratio of plant to animal fats.

Similar benefits were found for women. The same kind of diet “significantly improved sexual function[s], together with a significant reduction of systemic…inflammation. As a whole, these findings suggest that a Mediterranean-style diet may be a safe strategy for amelioration of sexual function in women” with prediabetes or diabetes—significant improvement in sexual satisfaction on the healthier diet.

Why, though? Well, “[a]s dietary fiber may have anti-inflammatory roles, it may be due to the fiber content of [all those plants in] the Mediterranean diet,” magnified by all the antioxidants. This is the current thinking, given the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of a plant-based diet.

But, does it really matter why? “From a public health perspective, it may be unnecessary to elucidate every mechanism” of single components: let’s just recommend people to eat healthy—such as “decreasing fat and increasing whole grains and greens.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Thanks to Ellen Reid, Maxim Fetissenko, PhD, and Laurie-Marie Pisciotta for their Keynote help.

Doctor's Note

This is the second video of my three-part series on sexual health. If you missed it, check out the first video, Survival of the Firmest: Erectile Dysfunction & Death, and the finale, Pistachio Nuts for Erectile Dysfunction.

For more on preventing sexual dysfunction in women in the first place, see Cholesterol & Female Sexual Dysfunction.

A similar Mediterranean diet failed to help fibromyalgia in the short term (see Fibromyalgia vs. Mostly Raw & Mostly Vegetarian Diets), but diets that were even more plant-based were found to be beneficial (see Fibromyalgia vs. Vegetarian & Raw Vegan Diets).

Other benefits of fiber may include improved bowel function (see Bristol Stool Scale) and frequency (see Prunes vs. Metamucil vs. Vegan Diet), lower colorectal cancer risk (see Stool Size Matters), lower breast cancer risk (see Relieving Yourself of Excess Estrogen and Fiber vs. Breast Cancer), lower blood pressure (see Whole Grains May Work as Well as Drugs), lower blood cholesterol (see How Fiber Lowers Cholesterol), weight loss (see Beans & the Second Meal Effect) and a longer lifespan (see What Women Should Eat to Live Longer).

For additional context, check out my associated blog posts: Top 10 Most Popular Videos of 2013, Foods for a Long Life & Love Life, Pills vs. Diet for Erectile Dysfunction, and Pistachios May Help Erectile Dysfunction.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

16 responses to “50 Shades of Greens

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  1. When I taught patients as a Certified Diabetes Educator, motivating them to make lifestyle changes was nearly impossible until I started to emphasize the connection to E.D., then their EARS perked up!




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  2. Remember those fruits and vegetables that resemble the parts of the body that they benefit? Same with greens. The vessels and capillaries that require clear passage for sexual juices are clearly indicated by the beautiful, intricate structure of a leaf. The blood in those tiny tubes is similar to the chlorophyll-hemoglobin parallel. Fascinating stuff, anatomy and physiology. Eat yer greens!!! An easy way to eat greens: KALE CHIPS!!!!!!!!! yum!!!




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  3. Dr. greger, “we used to think erectile dysfunction in young men as psychogenic in origin”, are you saying the problems of cholesterol and plaque could appear in men in their 20’s?

    And do cigarettes also cause that same plaque?




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    1. It could even be during their teen years, and not only men. Although I don’t have the references in hand, I remember reading autopsy studies of people (age range between early teens to mid 30s) who died from traumatic events, which found that virtually all people studied had some level of atherosclerosis in their arteries.




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      1. You are referring to the Prevalence and Extent of Atherosclerosis in Adolescents and Young Adults published in JAMA in 1999. See a brief summary of results in my post above. Another study “Vascular Age” is Advanced in Children with Atherosclerosis Promoting Risk Factors” published in Circulation in 2009 used carotid artery thickening measurements to demonstrate advancing arterial disease in children aged 6 to 19. So when I speak to audiences I like to point out it isn’t a question of if you have coronary disease but what you will do about it.




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        1. In your opinion, is atherosclerosis inevitable as we get older, or could one imagine 80 years old arteries totally free of even fatty streaks, in a person living on WFPD without any added oils, from birth? Or will we still see some degree of atherosclerosis, but not progressive enough to be problematic?




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    2. Cigarette smoking causes constriction of all the arteries of the body decreasing blood flow. I imagine that some of the many chemicals in cigarette smoke also interfere with the nitrous oxide system which is necessary for healthy arteries.




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  4. Wow, plants are so awesome! It’s amazing what they can do to heal the body! What took me so long to become so fascinated with plants?




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  5. Why? Because the problem night not be fat/cholesterol but simple carbs, thus yes what is working in the Med. Diet is important to ID.




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