As we get older, our bodies can sometimes become more susceptible to certain perils—take for example an enlarged prostate.
Fifty percent of men who are over the age of 60, and 95% of men over the age of 85, suffer from an enlarged prostate gland or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH typically occurs as a man ages—the prostate gland can enlarge and compress the urethra, obstructing the flow of urine.
In men, urine flows from the bladder through to the urethra. BPH blocks the flow of urine through the urethra. The prostate cells will slowly begin to multiply, creating an enlargement that places pressure on the urethra (where urine and semen exit the body). The bladder needs to use more force to push urine through the body as the urethra narrows.
Eventually, the bladder muscle will become stronger and thicker, yet much more sensitive, resulting in the need to urinate frequently. Since the bladder muscle can’t overcome the effect of the narrowed urethra, urine remains in the bladder and is not completely emptied.
You’re probably asking: “What can I do to prevent an enlarged prostate?”
I have good news for you: If you follow a diet that is rich in certain vitamins and minerals, you can keep your prostate healthy and lower your risk of developing BPH.
Symptoms and Causes of Enlarged Prostate
For the majority of men, constant trips to the bathroom at night (i.e. once or twice a night) may be the first sign of an enlarged prostate. Other symptoms include:
- Straining to urinate
- Continuous dripping/dribbling of urine
- A urinary stream that starts and stops
- A weak or slow urinary system
- Frequent urination
- Urinating again minutes after finishing
When your bladder is not completely empty, you increase your risk of developing a urinary tract infection. You could also develop bladder stones or discover blood in the urine. If you are unable to urinate, then consider it a medical emergency and contact your doctor immediately.
Top Foods That Help Prevent an Enlarged Prostate
1. Salmon: Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acid deficiency could lead to prostate problems. You can also get your omega-3s from ground flax seeds, walnuts, kidney beans, and canola oil.
2. Tofu: A study that was published in The Journal of Urology revealed that Asian men have a reduced risk of developing BPH when compared to western men. One reason could be that Asian men consume more soy. According to a study published in The Prostate, soy isoflavones have been linked to lowering the risk of developing an enlarged prostate. You can get soy isoflavones in low-fat soymilk, roasted soybeans, and soy yogurt.
3. Bell peppers: Bell peppers have more vitamin C than any other vegetable—vitamin C is said to play a role in fighting BPH. However, according to some studies, only vitamin C from vegetables can lower the risk of enlarged prostate. You can also try cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli.
4. Sesame seeds: Sesame seeds contain high levels of zinc, which is essential in maintaining a healthy prostate. Men who either have BPH or prostate cancer have low levels of zinc in their bodies. You can also try pumpkin seeds, adzuki beans, and almonds.
5. Avocadoes: Avocadoes are rich in the plant sterol beta-sitosterol. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews states that beta-sitosterol helps reduce symptoms associated with BPH. It can strengthen the immune system as well as reduce inflammation and pain. You can also try soybeans, pecans, and wheat germ.
6. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene—a carotenoid that gives the tomatoes its bright red color. Lycopene lowers antigen, which is a protein connected to prostate inflammation and BPH. You can also try pink grapefruit, papaya, and apricots.
Foods to Avoid
To reduce the occurrence of an enlarged prostate, avoid the following foods (or, when stated, take certain foods in moderation):
- Dairy: In many cases dairy products act as BPH symptom-triggers; it’s best to avoid blue cheese, Swiss cheese, and aged cheddar cheese. If you need a dairy fix, then limit your intake (in moderation) to yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese.
- Vegetables: Avoid eating squash, white corn, and broad beans.
- Fermented foods: There aren’t many, but fermented foods, such as pickled herring (fish) and sauerkraut (cabbage family) are BPH stimulants.
- Fruits: Avoid pineapple, red plums, orange juice, and yellow cherries to reduce the risk of BPH symptoms. In moderation—and not on a daily basis—you can consume mangos, red cherries, and red and purple grapes (in small doses).
- Protein: Meat is allowed in a natural BPH diet, but you should avoid the following trigger proteins: aged beef, sausage, bologna, salami, and dried salted fish.
Finally, certain medications that you may use to relieve other health issues might aggravate enlarged prostate symptoms. To prevent this from occurring, avoid allergy and hay fever drugs, as well as cold or sinus medications that contain antihistamines or decongestants. Consult with your doctor first.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Natural BPH Treatment through Diet – Food List for Enlarged Prostate,” ProstateHelper.com; http://www.prostatehelper.com/foodlist.html, last accessed September 21, 2015.
Bocco, D., “Prevention Diet: 7 Foods for an Enlarged Prostate,” Healthline web site; http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/enlarged-prostate-diet, last accessed September 21, 2015.
“5 Home Remedies for Prostate Problems,” How Stuff Works Health web site; http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-prostate-problems.htm#page=1, last accessed September 21, 2015.
“Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia and Treating BPH Symptoms,” ProstateHelper.com; http://www.prostatehelper.com/bphwhatisit.html, last accessed September 21, 2015.
“Enlarged prostate,” U.S. National Library of Medicine web site, last updated October 2, 2013; https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000381.htm, last accessed September 21, 2015.
Davis, J.L., “Prostate Enlargement/BPH Health Center,” WebMD web site; http://www.webmd.com/men/prostate-enlargement-bph/features/enlarged-prostate-bph-complex-problem, last accessed September 21, 2015.