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Men exhibit better sexual health eating a plant-based vegan diet

A recent study has uncovered promising evidence that men who eat a plant-based, vegan diet exhibit better sexual health and a lower instance of erectile dysfunction.

According to new research conducted by leading researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a diet emphasizing fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts — while limiting meat and dairy — may significantly mitigate common complications experienced by prostate cancer patients, such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.

This important analysis sheds light on the potential for dietary choices, namely plant-based vegan diets, to enhance the quality of life in individuals undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, or simply for men who would like to improve their sexual health

Vegan power: Boosting male sexual health

The research, engaging over 3,500 men diagnosed with the disease, sought to determine if a shift towards more plant-based vegan foods could alleviate the myriad of sexual health and quality-of-life challenges that typically follow prostate cancer treatments.

By categorizing participants into five distinct groups based on their dietary habits — specifically, the ratio of plant to animal foods consumed — the study found notable improvements in sexual and urinary health, as well as hormonal well-being, among those who favored a plant-centric vegan diet.

Men in the top quintile for plant food consumption reported an 8% to 11% enhancement in sexual function and up to a 14% improvement in urinary health, experiencing fewer issues related to incontinence, obstruction, and irritation.

Additionally, this group also saw up to a 13% increase in scores related to hormonal health, indicating fewer symptoms associated with low energy, depression, and hot flashes.

From plants to prostate health: Unpacking the study

Dr. Stacy Loeb, the study’s lead author and a distinguished urologist and professor at NYU Langone Health, emphasized the significance of these findings.

“Our findings offer hope for those looking for ways to improve their quality of life after undergoing surgery, radiation, and other common therapies for prostate cancer, which can cause significant side effects,” said Dr. Loeb.

“Adding more fruits and vegetables to their diet, while reducing meat and dairy, is a simple step that patients can take.”

Loeb’s research is pioneering in its discovery of plant-based vegan dietary impacts on sexual and urinary health among prostate cancer patients, while also reinforcing previous research indicating a plant-based diet’s role in reducing the risk of developing prostate cancer.

It challenges longstanding myths about meat consumption and male sexual health, suggesting that plant-based vegan foods may, in fact, offer superior benefits in this area.

Digging deeper: The science behind the greens

Prostate cancer stands as one of the most prevalent and lethal cancers affecting American men, underscoring the importance of this research.

The study leveraged data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. This massive dataset is a comprehensive project initiated in 1986 by the Harvard Chan School.

Their initiative collects detailed nutritional and health-related information from over 50,000 male health professionals to understand how diet influences cancer, heart disease, and other serious health outcomes.

Participants, primarily treated for early stages of prostate cancer, provided dietary information every four years through questionnaires.

Additionally, surveys conducted biennially helped assess various health and sexual health issues, including incontinence, erectile dysfunction, bowel function, energy levels, and mood.

The study controlled for factors such as weight, physical activity, and other lifestyle choices to isolate the effects of normal or vegan diet on health outcomes.

Plants and the future of male sexual health

Remarkably, the research indicated that high consumption of any plant-based or vegan food was associated with better sexual, urinary, and vitality scores, irrespective of demographic or lifestyle differences, or even a history of medical conditions like diabetes.

The improvement in bowel function observed in those consuming more plant-based foods likely stems from the dietary fiber present in these diets.

Dr. Loeb’s team plans to extend their research to include a more diverse patient population and those with advanced stages of the disease, given the initial study’s demographic was predominantly White healthcare professionals.

“These results add to the long list of health and environmental benefits of eating more plants and fewer animal products,” said Loeb. “They also clearly challenge the historical misconception that eating meat boosts sexual function in men, when in fact the opposite seems to be the case.”

Implications and next steps

In summary, Dr. Loeb’s breakthrough study illuminates the powerful role a plant-based vegan diet can play in enhancing the quality of life and sexual health for men, particularly prostate cancer patients.

By embracing a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts, and reducing meat and dairy intake, individuals can significantly improve sexual, urinary, and hormonal health, challenging old myths and setting a new standard for dietary recommendations in cancer care.

This research adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the health benefits of plant-based diets while offering hope for men seeking natural ways to mitigate the side effects of prostate cancer treatment, thereby improving their overall sexual health.

Next steps will include further studies to broaden these findings across more diverse populations and stages of the disease.

The full study was published in the journal Cancer.


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