February 21-27, 2007

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Eat Your Way to Better Sex

By Stett Holbrook

I'M PRETTY skeptical of diets, and I've never been on one. The fact that there's always a new fad diet making even greater promises than the last one only reinforces how specious their claims of health benefits and weight loss are. But as I was reading an article in The New York Times recently about a reported Viagra boom in Spain, I came across a diet that could have real benefits.

The Feb. 11 article ("Spain Says Adios Siesta and Hola Viagra") describes how cultural changes in Spain are fueling surging demand for the little blue pills. Pfizer, the drug's manufacturer, says it sold nearly 1 million boxes of Viagra last year, the equivalent of one box for every 17 men 18 and older. The drug is in such demand that there are reports of drug store thefts, and Spanish women are increasingly requiring their partners to get prescriptions for the drug.

Spain is moving from a from a sleepy-but-sexy Mediterranean culture into a Anglo-Saxon-style, work-obsessed nation and it's having a negative impact on men's libidos, the article says.

"We used to have a siesta, to sleep all afternoon, to eat well," says Belén Alguacil Arconada, a Pfizer spokeswoman. "But now we have become a fast-food nation where everyone is stressed out and this is not good for male sexual performance."

Implicit in this statement is some exciting information: eating well, taking midday naps and not working too hard is good for your sex life. If ever you needed an excuse to eat well and take it easy, this is it. A recent study in Greece, another wise Mediterranean country, found that regular naps help lower your chance for heart disease. So there's further evidence that a long lunch followed by a nap is good for you.

What good is the so-called Anglo-Saxon lifestyle anyway? Work too much and you're likely to die young and need to pop a pill to get it up.

So screw the South Beach Diet, the Atkins Diet and whatever diet Oprah Winfrey is on today. I think the healthiest diet of all is the Spanish diet: good food, good wine and plenty of rest. You're not only like to live longer but also have better sex along the way. For once, that's a diet that I could support.

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