Med diet improves sexual function of obese women



| | | Bookmark and Share



August 25, 2007  
Filed under Uncategorized



CM NEWS – One more reason to consume Mediterranean-style diet. Apart from helping the heart, the high-fruit, low-red-meat diet can also improve sexual function in women with the metabolic syndrome, an Italian study says.

What is Mediterranean-style diet? A diet traditionally followed in Greece, Crete, southern France, and parts of Italy that emphasizes fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, olive oil (as opposed to butter) and grilled or steamed chicken and seafood (as opposed to red meat). Plus a glass or two of red wine.

med-diet.jpgTo be exact, there is not merely one Mediterranean diet. What is eaten varies significantly from one Mediterranean country to another. There also are major differences in diet between some regions within a country, as in Italy. However, the shared features of what is usually spoken of as the Mediterranean-style diet are as follows:

  • High consumption of fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil is the key monounsaturated fat source
  • Dairy products, fish and poultry are consumed in low to moderate amounts
  • Little red meat is eaten
  • Eggs are eaten zero to four times a week
  • Wine is drunk in moderate (or low) amounts

Many studies indicate that a Mediterranean diet may play an important role in the prevention of coronary artery disease. A Mediterranean-style diet also appears to help avoid the metabolic syndrome (prediabetes) and reduce the chances that a person will die sooner rather than later.

Scientists at the University of Naples, Italy, identified 59 women who had been diagnosed of female sexual dysfunction associated with the metabolic syndrome. The study investigated the effect of lifestyle changes on sexual functions. The study included a complete follow-up in two years and an intervention focussed mainly on dietary changes.

metobolic syndromeWhat is metabolic syndrome? Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors linked to overweight and obesity that increase a person’s chance for heart disease and other health problems such as diabetes and stroke. The term “metabolic” refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning. Risk factors are behaviours or conditions that increase a person’s chance of getting a disease.

The five conditions listed below are metabolic risk factors for heart disease. A person can develop any one of these risk factors by itself, but they tend to occur together. Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed when a person has at least three of these heart disease risk factors:

  • A large waistline. This is also called abdominal obesity or “having an apple shape.” Excess fat in the abdominal area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips.
  • A higher than normal triglyceride level in the blood (or you’re on medicine to treat high triglycerides). Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.
  • A lower than normal level of HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) in the blood (or you’re on medicine to treat low HDL). HDL is considered “good” cholesterol because it lowers your chances of heart disease. Low levels of HDL increase your chances of heart disease.
  • Higher than normal blood pressure (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood pressure). Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, usually written one on top of or before the other, such as 120/80. The top or first number, called the systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in the bloodstream when your heart beats. The bottom or second number, called the diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your bloodstream between heartbeats when the heart is relaxed.
  • Higher than normal fasting blood sugar (glucose) (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar can be an early warning sign of diabetes.

Among the 59 women subjects, 31 out of them were assigned to the Mediterranean-style diet and 28 to the control diet. After 2 years, women on the Mediterranean diet consumed more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grain and olive oil as compared with the women on the control diet.

As a result, female sexual function index improved in the intervention group, from a mean basal value of 19.7 +/- 3.1 to a mean post-treatment value of 26.1 +/- 4.1, and remained stable in the control group. C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were significantly reduced in the intervention group (C-reactive protein is produced by the liver; the level of CRP rises when there is body-wide inflammation).

No single sexual domain (desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, pain) was significantly improved by the dietary treatment, suggesting that the whole female sexuality may find benefit from lifestyle changes. The researchers conclude that a Mediterranean-style diet might be effective in improving sexual function in women with metabolic syndrome.

[International Journal of Impotence Research 2 August 2007]