Hitting the gym may help men avoid diet-induced erectile dysfunction

August 20, 2013, American Physiological Society

Obesity continues to plague the U.S. and now extends to much of the rest of the world. One probable reason for this growing health problem is more people worldwide eating the so-called Western diet, which contains high levels of saturated fat, omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (the type of fat found in vegetable oil), and added sugar. Researchers have long known that this pattern of consumption, as well as the weight gain it often causes, contributes to a wide range of other health problems including erectile dysfunction and heart disease. Other than changing eating patterns, researchers haven't discovered an effective way to avoid these problems.

Searching for a solution, Christopher Wingard and his colleagues at East Carolina University used rats put on a "junk food" diet to test the effects of . They found that exercise effectively improved both erectile dysfunction and the function of vessels that to the heart.

The article is entitled "Exercise Prevents Western-Diet Associated Erectile Dysfunction and Coronary Artery Endothelial Dysfunction: Response to Acute Apocynin and Sepiapterin Treatment." It appears in the online edition of the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology, published by the American Physiological Society. The article is online.

Methodology

For 12 weeks, the researchers fed a group of rats chow that reflected the Western diet, high in sugar and with nearly half its calories from fat. Another group of rats ate a healthy standard rat chow instead. Half of the animals in each group exercised five days a week, running intervals on a treadmill.

At the end of the 12 weeks, anesthetized animals' erectile function was assessed by electrically stimulating the cavernosal nerve, which causes an increase in penile blood flow and produces an erection. The researchers also examined the rats' coronary arteries to see how they too responded to agents that would relax them and maintain blood flow to the heart, an indicator of heart health.

Results

The findings showed that rats who ate the Western diet but stayed sedentary developed erectile dysfunction and poorly relaxing coronary arteries. However, those who ate the diet but exercised were able to stave off these problems.

Animals who ate the healthy chow were largely able to avoid both erectile dysfunction and dysfunction.

Importance of the Findings

These findings may suggest that exercise could be a potent tool for fighting the adverse effects of the Western diet as long as the subjects remained very active over the course of consuming this type of diet, the authors say. Whether exercise would still be effective in reversing any vascular problems after a lifetime of consuming a Western diet is still unknown.

"The finding that exercise prevents Western diet-associated erectile dysfunction and coronary artery disease progression translates to an intensively active lifestyle throughout the duration of the 'junk food' diet," the authors say. "It remains to be seen if a moderately active lifestyle, or an active lifestyle initiated after a prolonged duration of a sedentary lifestyle combined with a 'junk food' diet is effective at reversing functional impairment."

Explore further: Moms' high-fat, sugary diets may lead to offspring with a taste for alcohol, sensitivity to drugs

Related Stories

Moms' high-fat, sugary diets may lead to offspring with a taste for alcohol, sensitivity to drugs

August 3, 2013
Vulnerability to alcohol and drug abuse may begin in the womb and be linked to how much fatty and sugary foods a mother eats during pregnancy, according to findings from animal lab experiments presented at APA's 121st Annual ...

Men with erection problems three times more likely to have inflamed gums

December 4, 2012
Men in their thirties who had inflamed gums caused by severe periodontal disease were three times more likely to suffer from erection problems, according to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

A maternal junk food diet alters development of opioid pathway in the offspring

July 30, 2013
Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, shows that eating a junk-food diet ...

Guidance issued for erectile dysfunction as marker of CVD

July 23, 2013
(HealthDay)—Erectile dysfunction (ED) has predictive value for cardiovascular risk and treatment may have beneficial effects, according to research published in the June issue of The Journal of Urology.

Swim training plus healthy diet factor in cancer fight: study

September 10, 2012
A new study just published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism (APNM) reaffirms the crucial role exercise along with good nutrition play in maintaining health and fighting disease.

Weight gain induced by high-fat diet increases active-period sleep and sleep fragmentation

July 10, 2012
Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, finds that prolonged exposure to ...

Recommended for you

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.