It may be hard to believe, but a simple walnut-shaped gland can become a serious pain in the rear for some. The culprit, some specialized tissue wrapping around the urine outflow tube (urethra) in men, which is called the prostate. It generally enlarges with age, but so-called “benign prostatic hypertrophy” (BPH) is anything but benign for those men who experience it. Not only is it a stepping stone to prostate cancer, but BPH can also restrict urine outflow from the bladder. The resulting symptoms of frequent urination, difficulty in voiding, leakage, and frequent urinary tract infections certainly impact the quality of life in a bad way.
Diet Related To Prostate Cancer
The relatively high rate of prostate cancer in North America has been linked to the typical American man’s diet. To promote prostate health, I first suggest avoiding certain foods such as red meat, saturated fats, ice cream, margarine, and vegetable shortening which have been linked to prostate growth and cancer. Although eating one particular type of food or another probably won’t prevent prostate cancer, there is evidence a diet high in vegetables, vitamin C, and zinc can reduce your risk and improve urinary symptoms. It also seems that a diet low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats can slow prostate cancer growth.
If you are experiencing urinary symptoms from an enlarged prostate, modern medicine offers some drugs to shrink it and procedures to remove the “extra” prostate tissue. The problem is that all of these carry some elements of risk and potential side effects. For this reason, I always share with my patients some more natural and less invasive approaches that may offer some benefit with minimal risk. For any questions please contact us today!
Foods That Can Help Or Hurt Your Prostate’s Health
Hot peppers, for example, have an active “hot” ingredient, called capsaicin, that reduces the production of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein that marks prostate enlargement and cancer. Other studies demonstrated capsaicin slows the growth of prostate cells, reduces the development of prostate tumors, and even shrinks prostate cancer in mice. In these mice, the dose of pepper extract was equivalent to a human consuming three to eight fresh habanero peppers three times a week.
Saw palmetto is an herbal remedy that comes from a type of palm tree. It’s been used in traditional eastern medicine for centuries to relieve urinary symptoms, including those caused by an enlarged prostate. It is safe to use and typically has no side-effects. A few small-scale studies have suggested that saw palmetto is effective for relieving BPH symptoms. In my clinical practice, I have seen high quality saw palmetto consumed in appropriate doses to reduce PSA and improve urinary symptoms.
Beta-sitosterol is a cholesterol-like substance purified from different plants that supports the immune system. Several studies have also found that beta-sitosterol also improves urine strength of urine flow obstructed by an enlarged prostate. There are no major side effects to be considered and as a bonus, this supplement also helps control cholesterol levels. Speaking of bonuses, I have good prostate news for sexually active men. Two relatively large studies reported in 2003 and 2004 demonstrated that a higher frequency of ejaculation seemed to protect against prostate cancer.
Enlarged Prostate. What Does It Mean?
Men with an enlarged prostate are often told to avoid caffeine and alcohol because both can worsen urinary symptoms. These can certainly send you to the bathroom more often, but they do so by increasing urine production, but I’ve found no real evidence either of these will enlarge your prostate, increases PSA, or promote cancer. In fact, there is some data suggesting that a small amount of alcohol may actually improve urinary obstructive symptoms.
It’s important to remember that just because a supplement is labeled “natural” doesn’t always mean it’s safe or healthy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate herbal remedies like it does drugs. That means you can’t be totally sure that what’s listed on the label is inside the bottle. Herbal remedies can cause side effects like drugs and can also interact with other medicines you take. So check with your doctor before trying any natural supplements and choose the brand from reputable manufacture he/she suggests.