The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits between the bladder and the penis, just in front of the rectum. While there are factors that affect your prostate health that you cannot change (age, ethnicity, family history), there are things you can do to promote prostate health. In this article, we discuss seven natural ways to help keep your prostate healthy.
1. Keep your prostate healthy by eating more vegetables and fruits.
Vegetables and fruits contain many vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals (plant nutrients). In combination, these nutrients may help keep your prostate healthy naturally. Eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruits per day. Choose fruits and vegetables from all color categories (green, yellow/orange, red/purple, and white) to get a good variety of prostate-healthy phytochemicals.
It is important to eat a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits.
One example is tomatoes, which contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Watermelon, guava, and pink grapefruit also contain small amounts of lycopene. Because your body can absorb the lycopene in cooked tomatoes more easily, tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes are good sources. Most of the lycopene is located in the bright red skin, so do not peel your tomatoes.
Another example is cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, and kale). This vegetable family is rich in sulfur-containing compounds that promote prostate and overall health.
2. Eat more legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) and whole grains.
Legumes are high in folate, potassium, iron, magnesium, and fiber. They are quite versatile and you can add them to stews, casseroles, soups, and salads. You can also eat legumes as a side dish with your favorite herbs and spices.
Soybeans are legumes that have been shown to help keep your prostate healthy. Soybeans contain isoflavones, which are considered phytoestrogens. Choose whole soy foods such as tofu, soy milk, edamame (boiled soybeans), and tempeh.
To help keep your prostate healthy, eat more unprocessed whole grains and limit refined grains. Refined grains are stripped of certain nutrients (B vitamins, vitamin E, and fiber) during the refining process. Unprocessed whole grains such as oats, brown rice, barley, and quinoa are great choices that can keep your prostate healthy naturally. An easy way to determine whether a packaged food is 100% whole grain is to look for “whole grain” as the first ingredient.
3. Limit red meat and dairy.
Although the research on this topic is not completely clear, studies indicate that eating a lot of red meat or dairy products is not healthy for the prostate. Nor is eating too much processed meat such as bologna, salami, sausage, bacon, and hot dogs.
Research also indicates that too much calcium may negatively impact the prostate. Adequate calcium is important for bone health, so the goal is to get enough but not too much calcium. For most people, 1,000 mg of calcium per day (from food and supplements) is enough. Aim to limit your milk and dairy intake to two servings or less per day.
4. Eat more fatty fish.
Fish is a healthy and natural alternative to red meat. Fattier fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, and swordfish, contain omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA). In addition to keeping your heart healthy, omega-3 fats can help keep your prostate healthy.
Aim to eat fatty fish at least twice a week.
5. Drink green tea.
Green tea contains antioxidants called catechin polyphenols, which may play a role in prostate health. Drinking 3-4 cups of green tea per day is most beneficial. Green tea naturally contains about 10-20% the amount of caffeine as coffee. If you prefer decaffeinated green tea, choose one that uses carbon dioxide and water as the solvent (effervescence). This is the preferred method of decaffeination because it retains most of the catechins.
6. Achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
Maintaining a healthy body weight is not only important for your overall health, it is important for your prostate. If you need to lose weight, aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week for healthy weight loss.
Following the guidelines for the New American Plate is a simple way to create healthy meals to help manage your weight. Your New American Plate should consist of 2/3 (or more) vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans, and 1/3 (or less) of animal protein (such as meat and poultry).
7. Exercise regularly.
Daily exercise and physical activity are also very important for prostate health. Regular exercise releases tension, decreases stress, keeps hormone levels healthy, and improves immune function.
Resistance exercise (strength training) helps improve muscular strength and performance, decrease fatigue, and improve your quality of life. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity per day, 5 days a week. Talk with your healthcare provider to determine what activities are best for you.
Keep your prostate healthy by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, green tea, and fatty fish while limiting meat and dairy consumption. Add in regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight, and you’ve got the recipe for a prostate-healthy lifestyle.
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