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Exercise Could Prevent Diet-Related Erectile Dysfunction

Update Date: Aug 20, 2013 03:04 PM EDT
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Erectile dysfunction is often a very embarrassing topic for men to have with their significant others and with their primary care physicians. However, leaving the condition unchecked could take a toll on one's sex life, which could then affect the overall relationship. Even though there are medications available to treat erectile dysfunction, a new study is reporting the exercise might be the key in preventing erectile dysfunction that occurs due to one's diet.

According to researchers, people who eat a Western-diet, which is one that includes high levels of saturated fat, omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and added sugar have a greater risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction, as well as other health complications such as heart disease and weight gain. Since most people will not overhaul their entire diet, researchers from East Carolina University, headed by Christopher Wingard decided to study the effects of aerobic exercise on erectile dysfunction in rat models.

The researchers fed rats a diet that resembled a Western diet. For 12 weeks, the rats ate a lot of added sugar and consumed half of their calorie content from fat. The researchers used another group of rats as the control group and fed them a healthy diet. In both groups, half of rats exercised five day per week. They were forced to run on the treadmill in intervals. At the end of the study, the researchers looked at the effects of aerobic exercise on the animals' erectile function. In order to study erectile function, the researchers had to anesthetize the rats first before electrically stimulating the rats' cavernosal nerve. The cavernosal nerve is responsible for increasing blood flow to the penis, resulting in an erection. On top of that, the researchers also looked into the rats' coronary arteries. The researchers looked at the coronary arteries' ability to relax, which would indicate whether or not the heart is healthy.

The researchers discovered that rats fed a Western diet and led a sedentary life style suffered from erectile dysfunction and had poorer heart function. The rats that were on the same diet but exercised frequently did not have these same health complications. The other group of rats avoided erectile dysfunction and poor coronary arteries regardless of exercise. This study suggests that exercise could help prevent some of the negative side effects of consuming a diet that is high in fat and added sugars.

The study, "Exercise Prevents Western-Diet Associated Erectile Dysfunction and Coronary Artery Endothelial Dysfunction: Response to Acute Apocynin and Sepiapterin Treatment," was published in the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory Integrative, and Comparative Physiology

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