The Best Diet To Manage Enlarged Prostate
The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland present in males. Tucked behind the bladder and surrounding the urethra, the prostate gland produces Semen (a nutrient-rich fluid carrying sperm during ejaculation) during intercourse. The prostate gland also converts testosterone (a powerful sex hormone) into dihydrotestosterone, commonly known as DHT.
As one gets older, the levels of DHT increases in the body. In some instances, DHT increase is substantial enough to cause enlargement of the prostate. This condition is known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH. Affecting nearly 6% of the global male population (Lancet report, 2012), BPH is more prevalent in older men. Men aged 40 and above have increased chances of being affected by BPH. Even though BPH is non cancerous, continued enlargement can lead to squeezing of the urethra resulting in the bladder wall to becoming thick, potentially giving rise to many urinary symptoms.
Symptoms of BPH:
BPH is fairly common in the US, with a prevalence rate of 8% in men aged above 40, increasing to up to 50% in men aged 60 and above, and 80% in the age group of 85 to 90 years.
Some of The Common Symptoms of BPH Include:
- Increased urinary frequency and urgency
- Nocturia (excessive urination at night)
- Trouble initiating urination
- Dribbling towards the end of urination
- Interrupted urination
- Painful urination
- Urinary retention
- Pain after ejaculation
Management of Enlarged Prostate
As bad as it may sound, management of BPH is not too complicated. Medical specialists advocate the modification of diet and lifestyle since these have been found to manage some of the BPH symptoms effectively.
Some of the Strategies Include:
- Stress management
- Abstinence from smoking
- Limiting intake of fluids to 2 liters and avoiding fluids during the evening to control nocturia
- Ensuring complete emptying of the bladder during urination
- Regular bladder training and pelvic floor exercises
- Avoiding diuretics, antihistamines, and decongestants if possible, as these are known to worsen the BPH symptoms
If these changes are found to be ineffective, medication or surgical intervention would be recommended to address the issue.
BPH and Food:
Food plays an essential role in maintaining the health of any organ and prostate is no different. A diet containing healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits is thought to benefit the prostate and protect it. Certain types of beverages and food (meat or dairy products) are known to impact the prostate health negatively due to the effect it has on testosterone as well as other hormones. Lack or absence of vegetables in the diet can increase the chances of a person getting BPH.
Some of the Food Types that can be Beneficial to the Prostate include:
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, and cauliflower contain sulforaphane, a chemical that is thought to promote a healthy prostate.
Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are a powerhouse of antioxidants, which aids in the removal of free radicals from the body. Free radicals are formed from different reactions that take place within the human body and are known to cause disease and damage over time.
Grapefruits, limes, lemons, and oranges are rich sources of vitamin C which is believed to protect prostate gland.
A trace mineral, zinc aids maintaining the balance of DHT and testosterone, and is found in high concentration in the prostate gland. Nuts have high quantities of zinc in them. Legumes and shellfish are other food types that are rich in zinc.
Onions and Garlic:
Certain studies have shown that men having BPH tend to eat less garlic and onions. Though more research is needed to verify this, garlic and onions are an excellent healthy addition to a majority of the diets.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce and prevent any inflammation in the body. Salmon is known to have healthy fats containing Omega-3. Trout and sardines are other types of fishes that are rich in these fats.
An antioxidant, lycopene is thought to be beneficial to prostate gland cells. Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene. Cooking tomatoes, either as soup or sauce enables in releasing lycopene, making it readily available in the body.
Some plant extracts are also known to have beneficial effects on the prostate gland. A well-known example is saw palmetto. However, more research is needed to verify this.
Foods That Need to be Avoided
Just as certain food types are healthy and beneficial to the prostate gland, there are certain types whose intake is known to negatively impact the prostate. Some of these include:
Studies have suggested that avoidance of red meat may be healthy for the prostate. In fact, consumption of meat on a daily basis is known to increase the chances of prostate enlargement.
Like meat, daily consumption of dairy products has been found to have an adverse impact on the prostate. Reducing or abstaining from cheese, butter, and milk may aid in reducing BPH symptoms.
Caffeine is known to act as a diuretic, which can increase the frequency and urgency of urination. Cutting back or avoiding soda, tea, coffee, and chocolate can result in improving BPH symptoms.
Alcohol has been known to stimulate urine production. Abstaining from alcohol has been known to improve BPH symptoms.
Increased sodium intake can heighten the risk of urinary tract symptoms that are associated with BPH. Abstaining from processed food and following low-sodium diet can help in reducing BPH symptoms.
Treatment of BPH includes making lifestyle and dietary changes. Reducing consumption of red meat and increasing the portion of vegetables and fruits in the diet can help in effectively managing the symptoms. Also, certain drugs like Cialis is known to help.
If the doctor suggests “wait-and-watch” approach, then there has to be regular communication between the doctor and the patient. If the symptoms do not an abate with lifestyle or dietary changes or new symptoms emerge, then aggressive approach including medication or surgery may be advised.