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Foods for Prostate Health | Jan. 12, 2011

As men age they often experience prostate problems, like getting up several times at night to go to the bathroom.  Having to get up at night is a burden that can disturb a restful sleep, for both you and your partner.  Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) is the noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland and is an extremely common condition in older men, effecting almost 50% by age 60.  The symptoms of BPH are frequent urination, dribbling, incomplete emptying of the bladder, and a weak stream of urine. The causes of BPH are not well understood, but aging and testosterone are believed to be the primary influences on its development. Animal studies suggest that as males age their hormonal balance between testosterone and estrogen (produced in small amounts) becomes altered due to the decline in production of testosterone. There are plenty of treatments - both medical and surgical - but it would be ideal if the condition could be prevented in the first place through diet.

Two of the largest research studies (over 4700 men) looking at the effects of diet on BPH were recently published in the Journal of Urology and in the American Journal of Epidemiology.  To sum up, they found that taking dietary supplements (specifically antioxidants) has less impact on a man’s risk of developing BPH than does his overall eating pattern. The risk of developing BPH was lower among men who followed diets high in protein and vegetables and low in fat and red meat and who regularly consumed alcohol in moderation.  They recommend following these four tips to lower your risk for BPH:

  • Get high levels of physical activity and reduce "belly fat"
  • Follow a low-fat diet
  • Consume five or more servings of vegetables a day
  • Consume no more than two glasses of alcohol a day

Translated—A prostate-healthy way to eat lunch may be to choose salads without fatty mayonnaise-based dressings, fresh fruit and low-fat yogurt, or a wrap sandwich filled with hummus and vegetables. For dinner, opt for fish, chicken, soy or bean dishes, keeping the protein portion of the meal to no more than one-quarter of the plate, keeping starch to one- quarter and filling the rest with vegetables.

Gentlemen take note: A healthy prostate is yet another reason to eat your vegetables, keep fat intake low, exercise and enjoy an occasional drink. Warning: Prostate disorders can only be diagnosed by a physician.  If you are experiencing symptoms associated with BPH you should see your physician immediately for proper diagnoses.