Tabletop with healthy fruits and vegetables.

ED and Diabetes: How to Eat Your Way to Better Erections

Mediterranean and DASH diets are recommended for men living with diabetes and erectile dysfunction.

The Mediterranean and DASH diets have long been promoted for their use in managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes. However, many people do not realize that they can actually help to improve erectile dysfunction (ED). Dietary changes can help men to manage both diabetes and ED.

This article provides an overview of the connection between diabetes, ED, and diet. Read ahead to learn more about how the Mediterranean and DASH diets can help men to overcome ED.

The Link Between ED and Diabetes

Men living with diabetes are significantly more likely to experience ED. This is in large part due to the circulatory issues that are associated with diabetes. Certain prescription medications for diabetes can also lead to ED.

It is important for men living with diabetes to manage their condition if they wish to prevent or overcome ED. Weight loss, regular exercise, and other lifestyle changes are all linked to improving both diabetes and ED. Finally, prescription lifestyle medications for ED, such as Viagra, are safe for most men living with diabetes.

The Link Between Diet and Diabetes

Research shows that dietary changes and regular exercise can significantly improve diabetes outcomes. Men with diabetes should avoid saturated fats, trans fats, foods high in cholesterol, and excess sodium. Creating and adhering to a balanced meal plan can help men with diabetes to prevent further complications from the disease.

Making dietary changes can help men with diabetes:

  • Lower or manage their blood sugar
  • Lose weight or manage their weight
  • Reduce complications related to obesity
  • Manage their blood pressure

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet is modeled after traditional diets in the region surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. In 1993, the Harvard School of Public Health, Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, and the European Office of the World Health Organization released the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid to the public. The Pyramid is meant to be more of a guideline for healthier eating than a strict diet regimen.

The Mediterranean diet focuses on getting plenty of plant-based foods and spices. The guidelines do not specify portion sizes or target amounts per day. Each person can build their daily meals around the guidelines for what is best for their preferences and lifestyle.

The Mediterranean diet primarily consists of:

  • Beans and other legumes
  • Fish and seafood
  • Fruits
  • Herbs
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Spices
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

The guidelines for this diet recommend reducing:

  • Alcohol
  • Dairy
  • Processed foods
  • Red meat
  • Sugary foods

Research shows that the Mediterranean diet can reduce mortality risk, especially in relation to chronic conditions linked to cardiovascular disease. It has also been researched for its role in healthy aging and improving cognitive function. Research reveals benefits for both men and women who adopt the diet.

Physicians and dietitians recommend the Mediterranean diet for men living with diabetes. Most people can safely adopt the Mediterranean diet. However, it is still important to speak to a medical provider or certified dietitian prior to making any drastic dietary changes.

What is the DASH Diet?

The “DASH” diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet was developed to prevent and manage chronic conditions. The diet has consistently ranked highest among the best-rated diets in the United States for the past decade.

Research has shown the DASH diet can:

  • Help manage diabetes
  • Lead to weight loss
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce cholesterol

The DASH diet focuses on incorporating increased portions of healthy and nutritious options into meal planning. It also limits a person’s intake of red meat, sugar, and processed foods. People who have adopted this diet have been able to reduce symptoms and better manage conditions in as little as two weeks.

The DASH diet consists of:

  • Fish
  • Fruits
  • Low and non-fat dairy
  • Poultry
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

The ideal servings vary from person-to-person. It is important for anyone wanting to make extreme dietary changes to first speak with a medical provider or certified dietitian.

How Can Diet Improve Erectile Health?

Diet plan notebook.

Diet is intimately related to health outcomes, including sexual health and function. Research shows that diet can help to prevent and reduce ED symptoms. Individuals may find the most success when combining diet with other lifestyle changes.

Managing chronic conditions like diabetes through diet can lead to improved erectile health outcomes. Making positive diet changes can help men to manage weight, lose weight, and reduce risks associated with obesity. A medical provider or certified dietitian can help select the appropriate diet to manage these conditions.

A review published in the journal Sexual Medicine Reviews revealed that Western diets were associated with reduced semen quality. It also showed that men who followed Mediterranean diets were less likely to report ED. The authors concluded that diet should be examined further for preventing and managing ED.

How Do You Combine Diet and ED Treatment?

Telemedicine visit using a laptop computer.

Lifestyle changes that include diet and exercise modifications can help manage ED symptoms and improve treatment outcomes. Most medical providers recommend combining lifestyle changes and medication for the best treatment outcomes. Speaking to a medical provider is the first step in creating a treatment plan that is right for you.

Combining lifestyle changes and medical treatment for ED may include:

  • Switching to a Mediterranean or DASH diet
  • Adopting an exercise regimen
  • Managing weight gain
  • Managing stress
  • Taking an approved prescription lifestyle medication like Viagra

People living with diabetes and ED may benefit from adopting the Mediterranean or DASH diet. Combining lifestyle changes and oral medications for ED will likely have the best results. Men should speak to a medical provider prior to drastically altering their diet or taking prescription lifestyle medication.

Accessing safe and effective treatment is easier than ever with You can now speak to a medical provider and choose your preferred medication online. Learn more about improving sexual health and functioning by heading over to our erectile dysfunction page today!

Shelby is a public health professional with research and field experience in sexual and reproductive health. She holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).