Women: Are You Dealing with Low Libido? There Might Be a Surprising Reason Behind It

Not in the mood? Hey, we’ve all been there. Sometimes you really do have a headache, right? But if you’re consistently feeling like you’re not in the mood – that you’re struggling with low libido – there are probably reasons behind that. Some of them could be psychological or emotional, but there’s also a chance that what you’re experiencing has a physical root, or a combination of mental and physical factors. And no, we’re not just talking about the old headache problem, or even things like weight gain. We’re talking about something that might surprise you: your gut health. Yes, your gut! So what does your gut health have to do with your libido, and are there things you can try to get your gut health back on track and put the zing back into your thing?picture of a woman laying in bed facing a window with the article title across it

Your Low Libido

Here we are, at the start of a new year, in the dead of winter, and you might not be feeling super sexy. Maybe you feel like you gained a bit of weight over the holidays, maybe work is stressing you out, or maybe you’re even struggling with seasonal depression. All of that can take a toll on your sex drive. 


But if your low libido isn’t so, well, fleeting and seasonal, you’ll probably want to evaluate what’s going on. After all, if you’re generally a fan of sex, you’ll want to keep it and all of its benefits in your life! First of all, experts recommend you evaluate the emotional side of things in your life, asking yourself things like: Are you happy with your partner, or are there issues that need to be addressed? Are you feeling good about yourself, or has your self-image taken a hit lately? And be honest!


After all, for many people, sex starts in the brain (OK, not completely, but still). According to board-certified integrative physician and licensed psychotherapist, Edison de Mello, MD, Ph.D., “Libido and sexual arousal in women is, for the most part, grounded on intimacy involving the interaction of several components, including physical trust, emotional well-being, previous experiences, self-esteem, physical attraction, lifestyle, and her current relationship.”


But all of that psychological stuff is not the whole story. Sure, we talk about men’s physical issues with libido and sexual function, but the physical side of things can be an issue for women, too. And if your instinct after questioning yourself about your emotional life is that there’s something else going on, listen to it. That something else, researchers are finding, might have to do with your gut health.

Gut Health and Libidoillustration of a stomach with bacteria in it under a magnifying glass

It seems like talk about our gut health is everywhere these days. And there’s a good reason for that! We’re finding out more about the impact of gut health on all aspects of our overall health. 

Researchers have been uncovering many ways in which the gut, particularly the population of bacteria living in your intestines and bowel called the gut microbiome, can affect our health and behavior. And you know what? Sex is no different! Turns out your gut has a pretty big role to play in everything from the hormones of sexual behavior to the actual matter of attraction to the act itself. The following are some of the main reasons your gut affects your sex drive:

1. GI issues are a bummer

Again according to de Mello, “I often see low libido as a symptom stemming from an imbalance of the gut flora (dysbiosis), even though most of us do not necessarily think of our intestines when we think about sexual arousal. But, the gastrointestinal tract, aka our gut system, plays a major physical factor that has many unexpected effects on our ability to respond and perform sexually.”


Why is that? Your first instinct is probably to think GI problems, like gas, diarrhea, nausea, or bloating can really kill the mood. And you’re not wrong (although that’s not the whole story). Those things, and even the fear of experiencing them while with your partner, are actually proven to cause not only painful sex, but also performance anxiety, and eventually, low libido. 


For example, many IBS sufferers report experiencing performance anxiety due to the fear that they’ll have an IBS episode in the middle of intimate activities. And, in this case, instead of producing serotonin (a happy hormone), your body will feel stressed, secreting cortisol (a stress hormone). 


In fact, in one study in which 30 women were tested for arousal levels in the presence of elevated cortisol found:  “Women who show an increase in cortisol in response to sexual stimuli in the laboratory have lower levels of functioning in certain areas of their sexual life compared with women who show a decrease in cortisol. Stress related to sexual performance may interfere with sexual arousal.”

2. Your gut makes some good stuff

OK, but as we’ve hinted at, the relationship between your gut and your sex drive is not just about the fear of an embarrassing bodily function ruining date night. There’s something more complicated going on. Your sexual health is actually connected to your gut because of the fact that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays a big role in your mental health. 


What does serotonin have to do with your gut? Well, serotonin doesn’t just play a role in our moods, it also helps regulate bowel movements and feelings of nausea. And it turns out that the vast majority of serotonin is produced by gut bacteria. “It turns out that only some serotonin is produced in the brain — about 80 to 90% of it is actually produced in the gut,” Dr. Edward Catalano told HuffPost in 2017. In fact, millions of neurons line your GI tract and send signals to your brain to control emotional responses.


And consider this: too much serotonin actually inhibits sex drive, as anyone who takes SSRIs for depression could probably tell you. So a gut that’s producing varying levels of serotonin could end up causing unexplained mood and libido changes, and doing funky things to your sex drive. So, if your gut isn’t healthy, your body and brain probably won’t be able to respond to those sexy moments as they normally would.

3. A healthy gut is a sexy gut

Here’s where things get a little crazy. The health of your gut can actually have an impact on your, shall we say, sexiness? Apparently, according to research by microbiologist Susan Erdman, the microbiome of our gut might actually play a big part in that oh-so-important part of sex: attraction. Huh? Well, she told The New York Times that microbes in our guts can affect our skin, hair, and even our oxytocin levels, and can give us (or take away) what she calls “the glow of health” that helps make us sexually attractive to others. In other words, it sounds like you might want to stock up on some probiotic yogurt before your next date.


And not only can your gut’s microbiome play a part in your sex appeal, but it can also play a part in how attracted you are to sexual partners. Some scientists believe that there are such things as “compatible” gut microbe populations among couples, or people who are attracted to each other. In other words, if someone’s microbial levels match yours, you’re more likely to be attracted to one another. Not a totally proven theory, but it still suggests that there’s a whole lot going on it that gut that could be affecting how you feel about sex. 

Getting Your Gut’s Sexy Back

Wow, that’s a whole lot of gut impacting a whole lot of sex drive. So if you think this might be something worth exploring when it comes to ramping up a flagging libido, what can you do? Well, there are a few things you can try to get your gut’s microbiome healthier – and sexier:picture of a womans flat stomach sweating

  • Check your diet – Eating lots of sugar and processed foods is bad for your gut, so consider cutting down on those types of foods and adding in more fresh, non-starchy fruits and veggies, as well as some fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut, and kombucha.
  • Get moving – Research has found that, among the many benefits of exercise for the body, it can also increase the “flow rate” through the intestines, which can influence your metabolism and immune function, ultimately affecting the microbiota in your gut for the better. 
  • Use antibiotics sparingly – Have an infection? Then by all means, take antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor. Have a cold? Skip them; they won’t help, and they’ll negatively affect your gut’s microbiome. Since antibiotics can’t tell the difference between good bacteria and bad bacteria.

And if you’re experiencing GI issues that directly affect your sex life, in addition to talking to your doctor, consider going on dates that don’t involve eating! 


Your gut’s microbiome is probably the last thing on your mind when you’re about to get busy, right? But it turns out it might be having more of an effect on your sex life than you could have imagined. If you’ve got an unhealthy gut, you might just have an unhealthy sex life, as well. So eat right, get some exercise, talk to your doctor, and get yourself (and your gut) back on the sexy track!

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Eating Away At Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns in the U.S., affecting around 6.8 million people. That’s 3.1% of the population! The term anxiety actually covers a whole list of disorders, from phobias to social anxiety to generalized anxiety. It can be treated with therapy and medications, but there are some things you can do along with more traditional treatment that can help reduce your anxiety. 


For example, you can try breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga. And while these methods can help you reduce the constant tension or fear caused by anxiety, there’s an even easier – and tastier – strategy. You can add certain foods to (and take others out of) your diet. Nutrition is the first step in caring for our physical health, but it can also help our mental health, so we’ve compiled a list of foods that can work along with your treatment to reduce your anxiety.wooden table with fruits and vegetables spilled on it with article title written on the table

1.Green Tea

Green tea leaves have an amino acid called Theanine. According to research, theanine significantly lowers stress by lowering your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can cause those anxious feelings. Theanine may also increase production of dopamine and serotonin, the hormones that cause happy and blissful feelings. Increasing these levels can have anxiety-reducing effects.


Additionally, green tea contains other antioxidants that promote brain health. These antioxidants can relieve some of the symptoms of your anxiety and help your brain process your emotions better, making you feel calmer.


Snacking on almonds can reduce symptoms, like depression, that often come with anxiety, especially in men. Research found that men who ate nuts were 66% less likely to experience anxiety. This is because the nutrients in almonds, including vitamin E and healthy fats, promote healthy brain function. 


Why is vitamin E so important if you’re struggling with anxiety? Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress, which can cause anxiety. When you are in an anxious state, your body will use a lot of your vitamin E supply to help counteract the symptoms. So increasing your vitamin E levels by eating almonds can help give your body the supply it needs to ease your anxiety.

3.Dark Chocolateillustration of dark chocolate

Not only is chocolate delicious, it can help reduce your anxiety. Dark chocolate contains a compound called flavanols that act as antioxidants. And antioxidants, as we explained earlier, promote brain health and relieve anxious symptoms.


The amino acids in dark chocolate also aid in the production of serotonin, which is a hormone that triggers euphoric feelings. Triggering those feelings can help boost your mood and help relieve some of your stress. 


Eggs are all-around healthy. They’re a source of complete protein, which means they have all the essential amino acids you need for growth and development. And it means they contain tryptophan, an amino acid that specifically helps relieve anxiety. This is another one of those amino acids that promotes serotonin production.


We’ve mentioned how serotonin helps reduce anxiety but it has other benefits, too. Serotonin can help regulate your sleep and mood, and even strengthen your memory!


The probiotics in yogurt and other types of fermented food help reduce inflammation in your gut. What does your gut have to do with anxiety? Well, your gut and brain send signals to each other through the central nervous system. Those signals help regulate stress response and anxiousness. Have you ever said “ I have a gut feeling about this”? That’s where the phrase comes from. 


When your gut is overrun with  bad bacteria, the signals to your brain become weaker, which in turn can cause an overactive stress response and anxiety. The probiotics in yogurt help keep those signals loud and clear. 

Foods To avoidlarge red circle with a line going through it

Knowing what foods to eat to reduce your anxiety is great. But you also need to know what foods can heighten your anxiety, as well. 



Alcohol is tricky. A small amount can actually stimulate GABA, a neurotransmitter that produces a calming effect on your body. But heavy drinking can have the opposite effect on GABA. It can cause a disruption to the signals to your brain, and cause you to become more anxious.


As with anything, moderation is key, and too much sugar can have severe effects on your mind. A high sugar diet can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and crash often. When your blood sugar is on a rollercoaster ride, the lows can drain your energy and cause your mood to drop. During those lows your anxiety can spike. You don’t have to remove sugar completely from your diet, you just have to be careful with your intake.

3.Processed foods

We talked about how inflammation in your gut can increase your anxiety. Processed foods can cause that inflammation. Things like fried or frozen foods and pastries all trigger the inflammation that leads to your gut and mind not communicating with each other correctly. Again, moderation is encouraged here.

Take your time

You don’t have to overhaul your diet in one day. Slowly start to introduce some of these foods or cut back on others. Give each new adjustment a week or so and see if you notice any positive changes. Keep track of your results, and over time you’ll have a clear view of what works for you. 


Remember, food isn’t a cure-all for anxiety disorders, it’s just a helpful tool. Consult with your doctor or therapist about your diet changes as well as other treatments to help your anxiety.

co-written by Brianna Hartnett

Insurance Company Offer Discounts to Vegans

Veganism has become a mainstream lifestyle and has been becoming more popular within the last couple of years. There are many health benefits to becoming vegan and now there are financial benefits. An Israel-based health insurance company, Clal Insurance, offers discounts to people who are vegans. The trend has caught on in America with an insurance company offering discounts for life insurance to vegans.

You have to sign a declaration stating you are vegan to receive savings.
The insurance company requres you to sign a declaration of health to qualify for vegan savings.

The Israeli insurance company began a Vegan Pay Less, VPL, initiative for life and health insurance plans for vegans. The discount will be available to member sof vegan associations who provide a signed declaration of health to qualify. The company is hoping that more people will choose to make the diet change to become healthier which will reduce health issues and costs.

Benefits of Vegan Diet

Plant based diets have become popular due to how well it ranks in healthiest diets in the world.. Studies have shown that a vegan diet has been shown to aid in the prevention and treatment of major diseases. These studies from the Public Health Nutrition Journal have shown what the benefits vegans receive. Their hypertension reduced by 63%, type 2 diabetes reduced by almost 50%, cardiovascular issues reduced by 20%, and a 15% lower chance from all types of cancer.

A lot of fruits and vegetables can help your body from high risks of cancer, alzheimer’s, and diabetes because of the antioxidants and phytochemicals provided. The National Cancer Institute believes that antioxidants can prevent certain forms of cancer because these antioxidants prevent cell damage.

A person is less likely to become obese or have a high BMI if they are on a vegan diet. A meatless diet will help you to have less body fat. This in turn will keep you from having high blood pressure and cholesterol issues.

A meatless diet has many benefits for your health.
A meatless diet has many benefits from maintaing your BMI, to lowering your chances of cancers and high blood pressure.

People who eat fish are exposed to mercury in their diet and high levels of it can damage your kidneys and lungs. A large intake can impact your cognitive skills because it is damaging to the nervous system.

An insurance company in America has joined the bandwagon of giving discounts to Americans who practice a healthier lifestyle by going vegan. Health IQ made the shift in order to help people save money. They base premiums on a person’s lifestyle rather than family history. The likelihood that other insurance companies will join the vegan discounted rates are high because vegans are healthier than non vegans.

Insurers want healthier customers so they do not have to pay a lot to insure them, in other words, the healthier a customer then the more the insurance company saves. Insurance companies do not want to take on sick customers. This will not only benefit the insurance companies, but also the customers. Bottom line is the more greens you eat, the more green you save in your pockets.

Cracking the Code: How One Number Changed My Life

Three. That simple number changed my life forever.

I Was Lost

For years, I struggled with achieving what I thought to be perfection. I stressed myself out studying for tests on subjects that made no sense to me, staying up late surrounded by piles of my meticulously-written notes, likely with tears in my eyes because I was afraid of missing the mark. In the end, the work paid off, I was a straight A student.. I was rewarded with a Bachelor’s degree, with honors. Though I aced my exams (except you, organic chem), I failed to really understand the way my mind worked, failed to really understand myself and because of that, I failed to be kind to myself.

In college, I thought I was going to be a dentist. I wanted to make my parents proud, to give them bragging rights that their child was a six-figure earner. I wanted to show up my bullies, so that they would regret every unkind thing that they had ever said about the “ugly girl.” I wanted to feel powerful behind my smirk when I told everyone about my career during house parties at my beach oasis in the Hamptons. I wanted to have what I thought was the perfect career choice, even at the expense of my own happiness.

Nothing Changed

After graduating college, I still relied heavily on my instincts in my day-to-day life, in the workplace, in relationships. Can I attain perfection? What is the next big thing I can achieve? I stayed up late writing out lists of my goals, pasting new images on my vision board. After I moved out on my own, however, things shifted and I truly broke down.

I felt alone, isolated, and I lacked the support system that I needed to keep me going. I dragged my feet every morning, apathetic about life, until I stumbled upon the Enneagram Assessment. The short quiz claimed it would help me better understand myself and since I was so ready to give up on everything I thought I knew, I took a chance and answered the all questions that same day, eager for the results to give me direction on my then, undefined path. The assessment listed a series of short statements, asking that the user honestly grade each as applicable to their personality and ways of thinking. In noting whether users “agreed”, “disagreed”, or felt “neutral” about the statements, they were pinpointed as one of nine personality types.

The Results Changed My Life

Type Three: The Achiever. These individuals want to be affirmed and admired to feel valuable, and fear being worthless. As children, Threes learn that when they performed well in certain activities that were valued by their parents or peers, they were praised — thus continue to put their energies into excelling in those activities. The assessment results were spot on.

(A list of famous 3’s include: Condoleezza Rice, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Tony Robbins, Reese Witherspoon, Anne Hathaway, Ryan Seacrest, Elvis Presley, and Oprah Winfrey. Not a bad group to surround yourself with, huh?)

Photo of Jessica and Her Family
As the eldest child of first-generation immigrant parents, I was easily overlooked.

As the eldest child of first-generation immigrant parents, I was easily overlooked. With my siblings being significantly younger than me, my parents’ energies and efforts primarily resided in keeping them fed, clean, and happy. I learned that I got positive feedback from them when I earned high marks in school, when I achieved. I was never the “pretty, popular girl” in school, but I did get praise from my classmates when my project was the most artistic in the room. I thrived on how impressed teachers were with my posters and reports, beamed with pride when my peers commented on their jealousy of my academic and creative abilities. Boy, was I a true Three.

Where this threeness became dangerous was getting so wrapped up in everyone else’s expectations that I lost sight of my own hopes and dreams, my own interests and passions. Quickly, that left me defeated and incredibly depressed. There were low days that I fell back into the suicidal thoughts that taunted me at age 13, and it took every ounce of strength in my body to continue moving forward.

This ‘Threeness’ Really Made Me Think

The results of the Enneagram test provided me with the clarity I needed to step back for a moment and finally put myself first. It gave me the permission to give myself a bit of grace when I don’t hit the mark of perfection. I still often have to remind myself that I shouldn’t be so wrapped up in performance or be image-conscious, but I think that I’ve made great strides in setting up a daily routine that keeps me balanced and grounded in my surroundings. A gratitude journal reminds me of all that I have to be thankful for, and the checkmarks on my daily To Do lists assures me that I’ve successfully completed the important tasks that matter at work and at home. And my 2 dogs definitely give me all the positive attention I need to know that I’m doing something right in life. It’s not true perfection, I guess, but it’s my own little version of it.

I can’t say I was surprised by the personality type that the test pinpointed. Because the results from this simple, free assessment were accurate, I really took the time to diligently read through the detailed

The Enneagram Wheel
The Enneagram Wheel represents the 9 different personality types, and shows how they interact with one another.

results via the Enneagram Institute page. The descriptions really outlined not just the strengths of each type, but provided a level-by-level analysis of the development needed for each Enneagram type. As I read through the descriptions of each of the 9 types, various people in my life — family, friends, coworkers, neighbors — flashed through my head, and it gave me a little bit more awareness of the different lenses that these different people may see the world. Greater patience, understanding and empathy was granted to every person I encountered, and I was able to gift myself more grace for my own shortcomings and limitations thanks to the self-awareness that the assessment provided.

Today, I am no dentist. I am not a PhD student either. I don’t even own a house (of any size). I am Jessica… plain ol’ Jessica. And you know what? I’m so incredibly happy about that.

So, what’s your number? What is it that makes you tick? I encourage everyone to take a moment and retrieve your Enneagram assessment results to gain some insight about why you think the way you do and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to find your own little slice of perfection in life too.


Vacations Are Good For More Than Your Soul

Stress can cause our bodies to become tired, causing them to become weak when fighting against an illness. When constantly dealing with stress, including constant stress at work, it takes a large toll on your health. Not only does your physical health deteriorate, but your mental health does as well. Physically you lose sleep and do not digest your food fully, while mentally you can become depressed, anxious, and lose memory over time. Stress can cause a person to become so irritable, that their social life will begin to decline.  In order to fight all of this stress consider booking a relaxing vacation for yourself. Even just one vacation a year can help your mental and physical stress levels.

Vacations are needed breaks for your health.
Getting away can have great benefits for your health.

Studies show that improvements in your psychological and physical wellbeing are caused by taking a vacation. According to a study, American employees only take about half their accrued vacation time. This can be because they think that have too much to do at work and do not have the time or finances to take a break. A vacation can be something as simple as a week off staying in your city connecting with friends and family or meditating and treating yourself.  There is no better reason to take a vacation than keeping yourself healthy. Some of the benefits of taking regular vacations are:

Better Sleep

When it is time to go to sleep, it may be hard to sleep because we have too much on our minds. We will replay our day, or think about work projects and deadlines, or chores that need to be done. It can become overwhelming and cause us to lose sleep. Loss of sleep can cause you to become less alert and lose memory, causing you to make mistakes. A vacation will help you to reset and get back to a more stable sleep pattern and essentially helping you become more focused.

Better Productivity

Sleep improved quality of life.
Taking time off to rest will increase productivy, mood, and physical health.

With better sleep comes better focus and productivity because time away produces a clearer mind and more ideas. Overworking can cause a person to burn out, especially when it comes to being productive and creative. Studies have shown that employees who go on vacations have higher performance ratings and are less likely to leave their job.  A vacation gives you the opportunity to come back refreshed with a more productive mindset and happier mentality.

Boosts Mental Health

Stress and lack of sleep take a toll on your overall well-being, making it harder to be productive not only at work but in life. Psychologically it takes a toll on you when you do not take a break to de-stress. Vacationers have a better mental health alongside a better mood. Happiness and generosity are shown to be higher amongst those who vacation regularly, and they also tend to value personal connections more than materialistic things. When we are anxious at work, it becomes harder to find solutions. Vacations lessen this stress and keep anxiety low.

Boosts Physical Health

Studies have shown that people who go on vacations are more likely to not only be happier, but healthier than those that did not go on vacations. Vacationers reported having less stress, and less physical issues; less complaints of headaches and backaches. Reports show that not going vacation at least once a year is associated with a higher risk of heart disease. This is because vacations offer the relaxation you need that in return lowers your blood pressure and stress levels. Anxiety and stress that builds up over time from work and life takes a toll on your physical and mental health. Too much stress can lead to higher blood pressure, and even a heart attack!

Vacations help us become our best selves, and be more productive not only in life but at work. There are so many benefits from vacations, especially for our health, that it is important to utilize them and take that time away to reset and refresh our minds and bodies.

Get In Shape Without The Stress

Working out is recommended at least 3-4 times a week by doctors to stay fit. It takes some discipline to go to the gym, and current fitness trends can influence how you work out. Every year there are new fads and fitness trends that people follow to get fit and stay fit. For example, have you ever heard of prancercise? Yes it is a real thing where you prance around like a horse. You might also remember the thighmaster, where you squeeze a contraption between your thighs to reduce inner thigh fat, & we all have heard the shake-weight which promises to tone your arms faster and effectively. Some of these fads come and go, or are just a gimmick that promises results, but some trends are exciting and give you a new reason to WANT to go to the gym.

To see real results, you have to put in the work– hard work. There are fun ways to exercise and get a workout in other than just going to the gym and lifting weights or running the treadmill. There are workouts and classes such as aerial workouts that work your muscles while you have fun at the same time.

So What Is An Aerial Workout?
Aerial exercise is a workout that is also a form of art, kind of like dancing in the air. People often describe an aerial workout as flying, which to be honest we all wanted to do when we were a kid. Even though it is a fun pastime, it’s also a great workout. You work out your arms, back, and core muscles. When trying to describe these workouts you might think of Cirque Du Soleil, where people are hanging on ropes from the ceiling floating around. Just like them, you hang in the air using an apparatus.

Aerial exercise is a workout that is also a form of art, kind of like dancing in the air. People often describe an aerial workout as flying.

There are different variations of aerial classes, from aerial acrobatics to aerial yoga and bungee fitness, all focusing on your core muscles. Aerial yoga uses hammocks hung from the ceiling where you do different yoga poses and stretches. Aerial art/acrobatics is when you use the trapeze, silks or a hoops (lyra) and learn to perfect different tricks. If you try bungee fitness you are strapped to a bungee cord from the ceiling and jump around, kick, floor dive, and work your core muscles without even knowing it.. You can expect to break a sweat with bungee fitness because it is similar to a cardio workout with music, and more bounce. Your arms will definitely be sore after the first time you try this exercise, as you will be using your rhomboids,your back muscles used during pull ups.

It is not as easy at it looks and it may take some practice to perfect, but once you have it down, people often claim to be addicted. This fun and adventurous exercise will require more muscle strength to keep yourself up in the air. But like anything, practice and time will make it easier to do.

Over time, these workouts provide you with the balance of strength and flexibility that is needed to perform them. Your teacher will make sure you are safe and you should always voice any concerns you have with them. They are there to make sure you are comfortable and get a good workout in. You should always consult with your doctor if you have prior injuries to find out if this type of exercise will be best for you.