A new Netflix documentary, The Game Changers, makes the bold claim that a vegan diet will improve your sexual health. However, the available evidence on the matter suggests that’s not the case, Insider reports.
There are several good reasons to switch to a vegan or vegetarian diet. Eating a plant-based diet reduces your carbon footprint, and you aren’t contributing to the inhumane conditions endured by animals raised in industrial settings. There are also plenty of health benefits, such as reduced risk of cardiac disease, if you eat a plant-based diet. Of course, standard disclaimers apply: don’t switch diets without first talking it over with your doctor, especially if you have underlying health conditions.
But as for claims that a plant-based diet will improve your sexual health, the scientific evidence just isn’t there.
The Netflix documentary, produced by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, and James Cameron, claims that three young men, after eating a single plant-based meal, found that their erections were 8 percent stronger and lasted three times longer.
If you’re familiar with the scientific method, you can see the problem with this right away: the sample size (three men) is far too small to make a conclusion. What’s more, the experiment, such as it was, was hardly scientifically rigorous: the men were given one meat-based meal and then one plant-based meal (burritos) from which the comparisons were drawn.
If you haven't already, we strongly urge you to watch new documentary, The Game Changers. ???? It is now streaming on Netflix in 190 countries! @gcmovie / @Schwarzenegger #VeganHour pic.twitter.com/eG6ATWXz6N
— Veganuary (@veganuary) October 22, 2019
Urologist Dr. Aaron Spitz admits as much in the film.
“This is not a scientifically validated study, but the results that we’re seeing are very exciting,” he said.
TV show-based science and actual science differ on the actual benefits, if indeed there even are any, of a plant-based diet on sexual health.
The idea is sound: a plant-based diet has been shown, scientifically, to lead to better blood flow. And much of the human reproductive apparatus, particularly when it comes to males, relies on vigorous blood flow.
“The harder your heart has to work to pump blood to your organs and everywhere else, the less actually makes it to the penis,” says urologist Dr. Seth Cohen.
But when it comes to peer-reviewed, scientifically-rigorous, controlled, double-blind, clinical studies on the relationship between plant-based diets and sexual health, there just isn’t much to go on, says Dr. Cohen.
“There really isn’t any good data to say that a vegan diet will improve your erections,” he said.
That’s not to say that such research isn’t forthcoming. Dr. Robert Ostfeld, of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, is putting together a research study, planned for late 2019 or early 2020, to look into the relationship between veganism and sexual health. It bears noting that the study is being funded by the Purjes Foundation, which itself promotes plant-based diets.