The prostate gland is the size of a table tennis ball and sits at the base of the penis. It is involved in semen production. Over a life time, this gland is likely to cause problems, problems which fall into three categories: it can get inflamed (called prostatitis), which is the most common prostate problem for men under 50; it can enlarge (called benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH), which is the most common prostate problem for men over 50; and it can turn cancerous, which affects about 1 in 8 males with a mean age of diagnosis of around 66.
Let’s look at each of these types of prostate issue in turn:
- Prostatitis: There are different reasons for inflammation of the prostate gland, the primary one being bacterial infection. Symptoms can range from increased urinary frequency and urgency to urinary blockage and pain in the groin, lower abdomen or lower back. Treatment is likely include antibiotics to get rid of infection and possibly anti-inflammatories. Drug treatments for prostatitis include antibiotics, pain killers and alpha blockers (to relax the bladder). Natural ways that could reduce the risk of prostatitis or at least not to aggravate it include avoiding sitting for prolonged periods, getting regular exercise, having good personal hygiene, avoiding spicy foods and hot peppers, and drinking plenty of water. Also, any diet or food supplements that raise immunity and lower inflammation are recommended.
- Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH): Half of men by the age of 60 will have an enlarged prostate, a statistic that increases to 90% by the age of 85. When enlargement happens — the prostate can grow as large as a lemon — the prostate puts pressure on the urethra, making it increasingly difficult to empty the bladder fully. The result is the usual frequent trips to the bathroom, which can be very disturbing, especially during the night. In severe cases, it can even block urination altogether and requires urgent medical intervention. Although BPH is not associated with cancer, it is a very frustrating and debilitating condition affecting older men, not just with urination but also in sexual activity (BPH is correlated with erectile dysfunction). Again, a healthy diet with anti-inflammatory foods can be helpful, as are a range of different supplements that can reduce the symptoms of BPH.(More about those later.)
- Prostate Cancer: Although prostate cancer will affect a 1 in 8 man, usually in the latter part of their lives, only 1 in 41 will actually die of it largely because treatments are effective in the early states. There are two types of prostate cancer: aggressive or fast growing, and non-aggressive or slow growing. The type of prostate cancer is determined by a biopsy. Often, non-aggressive prostate cancer is just monitored and not treated at all as it is likely to continue to be slow growing. The more aggressive the prostate cancer, the more urgent the intervention. That said, the long-term prognosis is encouraging, with 98% survival five years after diagnosis, and 95% after 15 years. These percentages might seen very positive, but we must not forget that this translates into over 11,000 men dying of prostate cancer in the United Kingdom each year, and over 33,000 in the United States. (If you have advanced and/or aggressive prostate cancer, there are relatively effective combination treatments such as those offered by Professor Pfeifer at Integrated Cancer Care in Switzerland.)
For this short article, we will focus on lifestyle practises and nutrients that can be helpful with basic Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy as the other prostate conditions usually require medical intervention (although a focus on optimum health will certainly reduce risks of developing prostate conditions all-round).
- Cut down on animal protein (including eggs), and especially red meat.
- Eat as much of a wholefood plant-based diet as possible.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol and other negative health factors.
- Take moderate exercise 4 to 6 times a week. And don’t sit too long on hard chairs.
- Take a supplement containing saw palmetto, phygeum africannum, zinc, plant sterols, pumpkin seed extract, lycopene, stinging nettle extract and selenium. One supplement with a superlative formulation is AlphaProst. Also check out Imupros.
- Take a rye flower pollen supplement such as Flowease. This can help reduce the need for constant urination.
- Avoid too much caffeine and spicy foods.
- Increase consumption of sesame seeds (for zinc), salmon or flax seeds (for Omega-3s), bell peppers (for Vitmain C), tomatoes (for the antioxidant lycopene content), tofu (for the soybean isoflavones) and avocadoes (for beta-sitosterol). Vegetables in general, especially green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables can be helpful in reducing prostate issues.
Finally, if the symptoms of BPH get too severe despite a healthy diet and added nutrients, it is time to check in with a doctor.