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Vol 14, No 2 (2016)
Review paper
Published online: 2016-12-29

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The role of selected nutritional factors in erectile dysfunction

Katarzyna Okręglicka, Żaneta Skwierczyńska, Klaudia Wiśniewska
DOI: 10.5603/79-87
Seksuologia Polska 2016;14(2).


Lifestyle diseases characterize those diseases whose occurrence is primarily based on the daily habits of people and are a result of an inappropriate relationship of people with their environment. The current overconsumption of processed and energy-dense food products of poor nutritional value combined with our sedentary lifestyle have contributed to the overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases and erectile dysfunction (ED). Erectile dysfunction is defined as the recurrent or consistent inability to obtain and/or maintain a penile erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance. Erectile dysfunction is a common medical disorder in Western societies that primarily affects men older than 40 years of age. Moreover, the worldwide prevalence of erectile dysfunction has been predicted to reach 322 million cases by the year 2025. Clearly, erectile dysfunction is now regarded as a major health problem for the increasingly healthy ageing population. Nitric oxide (NO) released from the endothelium and the parasympathetic nerve terminals, is the primary neurotransmitter involved in penile erection. NO widens the blood vessels of the penis which is necessary in the process of erection. Insufficient production of endothelial NO is the main reason of these disorders. Dietary components significantly affect the proper functioning of the endothelium. High-calories and high-fat and high-sugar western diets, in the long term, cause endothelial dysfunction and lowering endothelial nitric oxide expression, which is a major contributor to the development of the ED. Unhealthy diet habits, in particular excess of certain dietary compounds within the diet, and in particular, fat and carbohydrate overload, can induce disturbances of endothelial function and loss of vascular homeostasis, which can initiate and sustain ED. Lifestyle changes such as a balanced diet — providing the proper quantities of fat, complex carbohydrates, proteins, and micronutrients and vitamins depending on age, and nutritional needs of the individual should be the first step in the prevention and treatment of erectile dysfunction.


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Journal of Sexual and Mental Health