The first kick you feel at the start of a relationship stimulates a feeling of euphoria in the brain, similar in a way to feelings of being “high” on cocaine.
This is what creates and strengthens the initial foundation of loving memories in relationships. These “love drugs” heighten all five of your senses, help you focus on your love, give you more energy and stamina, glorify memories in your mind, and make you feel good.
The increased levels of adrenaline, endorphins, PEA and norepinephrine would put a strain on your body and brain over time. In addition, it is difficult to function well in other situations when love completely takes over your mind.
Once you’re in a relationship after a few months or several years, your chemistry is designed to shift from that initial high to producing more of your bonding chemicals and hormones. This change is characterized by an increase in serotonin, oxytocin, and vasopressin, and a decrease in testosterone, all of which are meant to keep you and your lover together for the long haul.
Research shows that couples who regularly do new things together have better, more fulfilling relationships.
These new and exciting experiences re-stimulate the production of that chemical cocktail you sipped from during the early stages of being in love, re-energizing special moments and strengthening your intimate bond.
This extra boost becomes more important over time and does not happen automatically. These moments of renewed excitement must be deliberately cultivated.
To fully reap the benefits of aphrodisiac foods, you must first engage your brain.
Using all five senses and becoming aware of your emotional state with background music and a seductive atmosphere will produce endorphins which in turn stimulate more dopamine production.
These two neurochemicals work together and cause the experience to evoke a powerful, steady stream of pleasurable feelings.
Norepinephrine is then added to the mix, boosting memory, improving learning and sharpening your ability to stay focused. It also has positive effects on your arousal, reward system, mood and blood pressure. A boost in norepinephrine can also help you temporarily put aside worries and distractions so you can have a more satisfying sexual experience with your partner.
Dopamine and norepinephrine are synthesized in the body from the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine.
Protein-rich foods such as red meat, poultry, seafood and hard cheeses increase your tyrosine levels, which helps metabolize norepinephrine.
Phenylalanine is not made internally by humans, so it must be found in our diet. Good sources include dairy products, avocados, nuts, seeds, legumes, leafy greens, whole grains, poultry, fish, some seafood, and some diet drinks.
The only neurotransmitter you need to reduce to get the full effect of aphrodisiacs is serotonin, as lower levels of serotonin allow you to hyperfocus on your love.
The primary purpose of a meal formulated with aphrodisiac foods is to keep your serotonin levels super low.
That means tryptophan — the amino acid famed for its involvement in helping Thanksgiving turkey put people to sleep — should be kept out of the picture. If tryptophan hits your system before tyrosine, your mood and internal chemistry will be relaxed and calm, rather than excited and brimming with energy.
That means put down the bread before eating your protein.
Here are 3 categories of aphrodisiacs for men and women who want to increase their libido quickly:
1. Those that appeal to all five senses
The first category contains those aphrodisiacs that evoke the full involvement of your senses, enveloping you and your love before the first taste sensations enter your mouth.
It’s how you prepare for and initially interact with your love on your date night – the music you listen to while you get dressed, the thoughts about what your partner would like you to wear when you choose an outfit, the way you design the environment to evoke romantic feelings with fresh flowers, candles and a playlist of your favorite songs.
These things turn on your endorphins to set the stage for a night of fun.
Like dr. Ruth Westheimer says: “When it comes to sex, the most important six inches are between the ears.”
So the first step to a night of passion begins with mentally preparing yourself to receive the full benefits of aphrodisiac foods by creating a romantic atmosphere.
2. Substances, foods and drinks that give you an immediate impact
The second category is what most people think of as aphrodisiacs – substances that immediately increase arousal once they reach your system.
These include alcohol, paprika (spicy foods), foods and spices with certain smells that a person finds arousing, ginger, ginkgo Biloba, and foods or supplements that give you a super dose of vitamin E — such as spinach, avocados, nuts, sunflower seeds, and squash.
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3. Nutrients that should be in your diet regularly
The third category contains nutrients that you must always have in your system to reach a peak state, such as zinc, vitamin C, iron, iodine and vitamin E.
It’s true that what’s good for your heart is good for your sex life. A healthy, balanced diet packed with these nutrients helps keep your stress low, your senses engaged, your focus on your love, your blood circulation strong, and your energy and stamina high.
Remember that the order in which you consume aphrodisiacs is important.
If you drink alcohol, making a cocktail the first thing that hits your lips will give you an instant dose of dopamine, which works together with endorphins to solidify the meaning and pleasure of your magical evening. For the ladies you also get an extra dose of testosterone to kick-start your sexual desire.
Your first bite of food should always be protein. This stimulates energy, stamina, focus and strong blood and oxygen circulation throughout your body.
A high-protein, low-carb meal boosts your dopamine levels.
And don’t eat carbs or excessive sugars before the protein, so try to leave the carbs and sugar for dessert.
Now you’re ready to get turned on and feel sexy all night long.
Joy Nordenstrom is a relationship coach who helps men and women overcome attachment issues and build healthy relationship skills that promote lasting love.