Happy Valentine’s Day: Dinner, Sex and Hepatitis C
Valentine’s Day celebrations often include plans to indulge in an elaborate meal – and aspirations for physical intimacy. Tempted by a desire to make the date special and encouraged by delicious-sounding menus, February 14th may be one of the few times a year couples make reservations to dine out. Despite a growing general awareness of the importance of healthful eating, special restaurant menus for Valentine’s Day are commonly laden with rich, sinful dishes. Besides potentially interfering with sexual libido, those with Hepatitis C risk provoking liver inflammation with this type of fat-filled feast. As an alternative, consider cooking your own Valentine’s Day dinner – relying on dishes that will help you feel in the mood.
For adults in a committed, romantic relationship, anticipation of sexual activity on February 14th is pretty common. Whether or not Hepatitis C is being managed, there are two important components of having great sex that should not be overlooked – especially on the holiday celebrating love:
- Having energy – Being tired is a major obstacle to lovemaking.
- Feeling good – Being bloated, nauseous, flatulent or in pain is nearly guaranteed to reduce sexual desire.
Unfortunately, neglecting the impact food has on health can easily hamper feeling good and energy on Valentine’s Day – and into the night. Avoiding certain types of foods, as well as consuming others, makes a big contribution to whether or not you feel up to love-making. While those with Hepatitis C are especially affected by inflammatory types of foods, the three dietary guidelines described below apply to everyone anticipating sexual relations:
- Only consume small amounts of sugar: Whether in the form of soda, a mocha latte, teriyaki sauce or crème brulee, refined sugar acts as a double whammy for those with Hepatitis C. Consuming sugar causes a quick spike in blood glucose levels, which is then followed by an energetic crash. In addition, sugar is considered a pro-inflammatory substance, capable of inflaming all types of tissue (including an arthritic joint or a liver with Hepatitis C).
- Avoid red, fatty meat: Red meat is high in saturated fat and arachidonic acid. The body breaks down arachidonic acid into inflammatory compounds such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Meals high in saturated fat clog blood vessels and increase stress on the liver, reducing its ability to filter toxins out of the body.
- Skip greasy, fried food: Yes, these foods can lead to clogged arteries and weight gain, but they also leave people feeling bloated, flatulent, tired and potentially nauseous. No matter how delicious pommes frites, fried calamari, mozzarella sticks or creamy sauces appear, excessive grease turns to sludge in your digestive system. For those with liver or gallbladder issues, sludge is especially hard to process and may lead to feeling queasy, flatulent and lethargic.
Reading a menu and deciphering if it will aggravate inflammation or cause sleepiness is not always straight-forward. For example, filet mignon with a sweet soy glaze and crispy shoelace potatoes may initially sound okay. However, such a meal contains every possible avenue for inflammation – sugar, red meat and fried food.
Sometimes, recognizing harm is even more obscure. For example, the following items were found on Valentine’s Day menus of respected restaurants around the U.S. – homemade tortellini filled with foie gras, sweet chili sauce, imported escargot, béarnaise sauce, black truffle cream sauce, lobster bisque, BLT wedge salad with buttermilk bleu cheese dressing, braised short ribs, whipped potatoes and vegetable fritters. Every single one of these tasty sounding concoctions can easily be loaded with sugar and fat – two of sexy time’s primary foes.
The ideal Valentine’s Day dinner solution lies in your ability to create a thoughtful meal at home. As the head chef, you can control the presence and quantity of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory ingredients. Consider these anti-inflammatory foods for your Valentine’s Day menu:
- Fish – Cold water, oily fish (like salmon, tuna, sardines or mackerel) offer the body protein while also containing omega-3 fatty acids – a natural anti-inflammatory substance.
- Produce – Fresh fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, enzymes and antioxidants. Besides quelling inflammation by scavenging free radicals, these substances help fire you up with energy and prevent sluggishness in the digestive system.
- Whole grains –Whole grains (like oats, quinoa, wild rice and kasha) are full of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and low-glycemic carbohydrates. Low-glycemic carbohydrates are important because they take longer to digest, preventing spikes in blood sugar that cause fatigue.
There are many possible dinner combinations that can be created using the principles described above. Examples of dishes that support liver health without interfering with libido could include:
- Baked salmon with spinach, turmeric and lemon
- Arugula and watercress salad with toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds
- Quinoa swirled with basil pesto
- Gingered sweet potato and carrot soup
- Grilled chicken breast scaloppini with mango and cilantro salsa
- Roasted vegetable medley
- Poached apple with vanilla and cinnamon
Because it places an additional burden on the liver, Hepatitis C increases the liver’s susceptibility to inflammation. As such, those with this illness must choose their foods carefully to avoid substances that could inflame their liver or interfere with sexual intimacy. By creating a menu low in sugar and fat and high in anti-inflammatory foods, you will not only be taking care of your liver health, but also paving the way for an evening where your physical body feels up to a consensual sexual adventure.
http://nutrition.about.com/od/dietsformedicaldisorders/a/antiinflamfood.htm, Nutrition and Health: Anti-Inflammatory Foods, Shereen Jegtvig, Retrieved February 3, 2013, about.com, 2013.
http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03184/Cooking-With-Whole-Grains.html, Cooking with Whole Grains, Retrieved February 3, 2013, Weil Lifestyle, LLC, 2013.
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20307213_1,00.html, 7 Foods For Better Sex, Julie Upton, RD, Retrieved February 3, 2013, Health Media Ventures, Inc., 2013.
http://www2.healthyimmunity.com/books/get-a-grip-on-arthritis/Causes-of-Chronic-Inflammation.asp, Causes of Chronic Inflammation, Retrieved February 3, 2013, Lorna Vanderhaeghe Health Solutions, 2013.