Ep 12 - Eat Your Way To A Healthier Libido with Jessica Cox
Jessica Cox is a nutritionist, author, mentor and the founder of the JCN clinic in Brisbane. I’m thrilled my friend Jess is joining me in this week’s podcast to talk about eating your way to a healthier libido.
Listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast and more.
Broadcast: April 30, 2021
Here is a snippit of our conversation…
Build a solid foundation.
Amy: It’s wonderful to have you here Jess and I’m hoping to keep this very simple for you today ... I’d like you to give me a magic bullet - is there a food or a number of foods that will magically boost our libidos?
Jess: Ha! I'd be a millionaire by now if there were!
Amy: Well, I had a feeling it wouldn’t be that simple… But I've had this conversation with friends who say, ‘I don't know what's happening with my libido, it's just disappeared’. I'd really love to chat to you about this, to get a sense of what some of the things are that we could be doing to boost it.
Jess: Look, I think like anything, when it comes to something around your health and I think of libido as health, like what's driving libido is generally two things… One would be your hormones and where your hormone status is at. But also your overall energy and vitality. So you really need those two to come together, we need to have a good foundation. We need to be eating a nice macro nutrient balanced, whole food diet. So quality protein, complex carbohydrates, good veggies, good quality fats and eating a variety of different seasonal produce, which I know sounds a little bit boring, but if you don't have those foundations to start with, you're not giving your body all the building blocks.
Let’s look at stress.
Amy: What other things do you think are paramount in terms of supporting our libido?
Jess: The major one, which is always the hardest for people to get control of, would be stress. If we're dealing with a lot of stress in our lives, that's going to affect our hormones. And the easiest way to describe that is that our sex hormones, as important as they are, they're not paramount in our survival. It's important with that fight or flight response to be able to run and get away from that saber tooth tiger. So our body's going to preference pumping all of its energy into cortisol and adrenaline and it's not going to worry so much about producing your estrogen and testosterone. So that's okay if it's in bursts, but when you're stressed all the time, that's where you can start to see this disruption with sex hormones. So you've got to think about what's going on from a stress point of view. And I would say stress as external, but also internal because internal stress to me is inflammation.
Amy: Then there's some pertinent lifestyle factors, like really good sleep is right up there in terms of supporting the stress. I think sleep is easily overlooked. And then there’s exercise, which will help support this as well. So Jess, let's presume somebody's lifestyle factors are generally in check, what sorts of foods would boost your libido?
Magical maca and shatavari.
Jess: So tofu or soy in general is a really good example. I think for women, particularly once we start probably getting over mid-thirties and forties. If you can tolerate soy, that would be one I would flag. Oily fish. So your fats. You really want to make sure you're getting enough of these beautiful oily fish and anti-inflammatory compounds. So if you can eat things like salmon or mackerel, like those really oily fish a couple of times a week. Sardines - powerhouse foods - they definitely will help with hormones. I'd also flag things like maca powder, particularly for testosterone and low estrogen. It's really common for women to get low testosterone, which is a big player in low libido. If people haven't had it, it's got caramel tones to it, so you can easily add it to smoothies or to porridge. Some women find that they feel really great from maca alone. And that's where maybe certain nutrients can come in and certain herbs. For instance, for one that packs a punch there's shatavari. It's one that our naturopath uses a lot and I have another friend who's an amazing naturopath and she's always joking about shatavari and her liquid herbs – she would tell you that they are your magic bullets!
Check in on your mental health.
Amy: But again, it does come down to having really sound health. Doesn't it?
Jess: It really does. All of the things we've talked about will help, but from my experience, it's generally getting everything right foundationally and then sometimes the other things that are going on mentally as well.
Amy: So if a client was to come to you to for help, where their hormones are imbalanced, would you need them to undertake testing?
Jess: Yeah, I would also want some general blood tests to look at everything like nutritional deficiencies, basic hormones. I would potentially, depending on where they're at, actually also consider a functional test for their hormones. But I would generally ask them to give me at least a minimum of four weeks for me to get in and work on their diet and their foundational side of things first and foremost, because often that's where you can start to see some really great changes.
Take the pressure off.
Amy: I guess it could be as simple as getting more rest and lowering stress…
Jess: Yes, that's what I mean. That mental side, the pressure around that though was just like, ‘Oh, why don’t I feel like having sex?’ And it's like, ‘Well, you're exhausted. You've had a massive day.’ And again, your body isn't preferencing that as a priority right now, it wants you to sleep and recover and nurture yourself. So, you know, we have to look at those and I think sometimes there's a lot of pressure from society that we feel like, like we've got to perform all the time. And I think it's really important to look at what sort of pressure you're putting on yourself too, when it comes to this area.
Amy: Thank you for being here.