In a previous article, Understanding Prostate Health Issues, we provided information about the prostate and how specific prostate issues may affect you. As you age, your risk for prostate issues increases. The three most common types of prostate issues are prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and prostatitis.
In this article, we discuss diet and lifestyle tips for men dealing with prostate issues.
Prostate Cancer Diet and Lifestyle Tips
- Eat less animal fat
- Eat more vegetables and fruits
- Exercise every day
- Lose excess weight
- Do not smoke
Eat Less Animal Fat
Some studies suggest that a diet high animal fat increases the risk for prostate cancer. Researchers do not fully understand the relationship between animal fat intake and the risk of prostate cancer. However, eating less fat, in general, may provide other benefits. For example, this change in diet may help with weight control, and help keep the heart healthy.
A couple of easy ways to reduce the amount of animal fat in your diet is to buy leaner cuts of meats such as chicken breasts, an eye of round steak or brisket, cutting off any fat you see on meats before cooking, and choosing low-fat or reduced-fat dairy products.
Also, use olive oil for cooking rather than butter, margarine, or lard. Sprinkle nuts or seeds on your salads instead of cheese. Use lemon juice or balsamic vinegar with a little olive oil as a healthier salad dressing. As you can see, just a few small changes can help reduce the amount of animal fats you eat.
Eat More Vegetables and Fruits
Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and nutrients that may help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. However, the exact mechanism as to how this happens is not entirely clear. Possibly, by eating more fruits and vegetables, you fill you up on healthy foods before you make unhealthy choices.
To get more vegetables and fruits into your diet, consider adding an extra serving of a fruit or vegetable to each meal. Also, eat a vegetable or fruit as a snack! A few cherry tomatoes or a few slices of yellow/red peppers with hummus can make a delicious and quick snack!
Exercise Every Day
Studies have shown that men who exercise have a reduced risk of prostate cancer. A healthy prostate is not all you have to gain from regular exercise. Exercise also reduces stress and tension, keeps hormone levels healthy, and improves immune function. Exercise can also help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, which can also help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
If you do not already exercise, speak with a healthcare provider to determine what activities are best for you. You can slowly increase your physical activity level in some simple ways. For example, park your car further away from where you are going, and take the stairs instead of the elevator.
A good goal is to aim for is 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity 5 days a week, for a total of 150 minutes each week.
Lose Excess Weight
The American Institute for Cancer Research has stated that 11% of advanced prostate cancers in the USA can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight.
Researchers believe there are two main theories about why excess weight may lead to prostate cancer. The first theory suggests that excess weight changes how hormones act in the body, resulting in abnormal cell development. The second theory is simple; it is more challenging to detect prostate cancer early in men who are obese.
If you are overweight or obese, work with your healthcare team to develop an effective weight loss plan.
Do Not Smoke
Studies have concluded that smoking increases the risk of prostate cancer by affecting circulating hormone levels and through exposure to the cancer-causing substances (also known as carcinogens).
The good news is if a man stops smoking before a diagnosis of prostate cancer, he can slow the development of the disease, and reduce the severity of the cancer diagnoses.
If you smoke, stop today. If you do not smoke, do not start!
Supplements for Common Prostate Issues
Specific prostate issues, like BPH and prostatitis, may be uncomfortable and lead to a lower quality of life. Fortunately, there are supplements available that can help provide symptom relief for some of these prostate issues.
Supplements for BPH Symptom Relief
In Europe, physicians often prescribe herbal supplements to treat BPH symptoms. In the United States, however, physicians usually consider them complementary or alternative therapies. These herbal treatments contain various fatty acids and phytosterols (naturally occurring plant sterols), which may be responsible for symptom relief.
Healthcare providers have been prescribing saw palmetto (also called Serenoa repens) for centuries. The active components are extracted from the berries of the saw palmetto plant. Research shows that saw palmetto may decrease the symptoms of an enlarged prostate when compared to placebo, with fewer sexual side effects than prescription medication. Although the exact mechanism of how it works remains unknown, saw palmetto might have anti-androgenic actions and anti-inflammatory effects.
Studies show that saw palmetto is safe, and does not falsely lower prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels (which could mask the diagnosis of prostate cancer), and may improve the overall quality of life.
Researchers believe that these plant sterols (phytosterols) may provide symptom relief due to their anti-inflammatory effects. However, the exact reason why beta-sitosterol works is still unknown.
Over the years, beta-sitosterols have been added to some foods such as margarine (like Benecol® and Promise Activ®) because some studies have concluded that these plant sterols also promote healthy cholesterol levels.
You can also buy nutritional supplements that contain beta-sitosterol. It usually comes in a mixture of phytosterols including campesterol, stigmasterol, and brassicasterol.
Pygeum, or African plum extract, is another phytosterol that may provide BPH symptom relief. This extract comes from the bark of the African plum tree, Pygeum africanum, found in central and southern Africa.
The pygeum bark extract contains many active compounds including phytosterols (beta-sitosterol), pentacyclic triterpenes, and ferulic esters. Researchers do not fully understand why pygeum bark extract may be useful for BPH symptom relief. It, however, may have anti-inflammatory and anti-edema effects. In several scientific studies, pygeum extract relieved symptoms such as increased urination at night (nocturia) and improved urinary flow in men.
Phytotherapy for Prostatitis
Phytotherapy is the use of plant extracts for medicinal purposes. Two plant extracts, rye grass flower pollen extract and quercetin, may be useful for prostatitis symptom relief.
Rye Grass Flower Pollen Extract
Rye grass flower pollen extract contains amino acids, antioxidants, and phytosterols. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and research shows that it may improve symptoms of chronic prostatitis by decreasing pain and improving quality of life. Other studies show that pollen extract may decrease urinary symptoms and enhance sexual function.
Quercetin is a natural compound in red wine, onions, apples, and green tea. It is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. Studies suggest that quercetin may reduce pain and improve quality of life in men with chronic prostatitis.
Word of Caution About Supplements for Prostate Issues
If you decide to try nutritional supplements for prostate issues, you should be aware of some things. For example, it may take two to three months to see improvement in your symptoms. As with all supplements, tell your healthcare provider what you are taking. Some supplements may have side effects, affect other medical conditions, or interact with medications you are already taking.
Only purchase nutritional supplements that have been independently tested and certified. NSF and USP are two not-for-profit programs in the United States that test and certify products for content accuracy and purity. These programs guarantee that the product contains exactly what the label says it contains. They also guarantee that the product does not contain contaminants or other ingredients not listed on the label. They also ensure that the manufacturers are adhering to the FDA’s current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) during the production of the product.
Finally, make sure that the “active component” of the extract is standardized to contain the sufficient amount of that active component. For example, because the active components of saw palmetto are fatty acids and phytosterols, a daily dose of 320 mg of saw palmetto should be standardized to contain 85-95% of those ingredients.
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