Nutrition and Lifestyle for a Healthy Prostate
Oct 01, 2011 01:21PM
By Bernard Rosen, Ph.D
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located under the bladder and surrounding the urethra. It acts as a valve that permits both sperm and urine to flow out of the body, produces nutrients to nourish the sperm and ensures a healthy environment for sperm cells by filtering impurities from the blood.
There are three main prostate disorders: prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer. According to a literature review by chemist Roger Mason in his book The Natural Prostate Cure, by age fifty, up to 75 percent of men have enlarged prostates and 33 percent have cancer cells in their prostate. By age seventy-five, up to 75 percent have cancer cells in their prostates.
Prostatitis is pain from the swelling of the prostate gland. BPH is a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that makes urination difficult and becomes increasingly common as men age, especially after age fifty. Prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer among men, often grows slowly and may take decades to produce symptoms. However, it can also grow rapidly and spread outside the prostate.
According to the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, the precise causes of these disorders are not known. However, changes induced by hormones have been implicated. As men age, they produce less testosterone and more dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone which makes the prostate grow.
There are four factors to which prostate problems have been linked: genetics, hormones, diet and lifestyle. Fortunately, men can change their diets and lifestyles: they can take nutritional supplements that support the prostate and influence hormonal balance; and they can increase exercise and reduce stress.
Several food-based nutrients and herbs have been identified as particularly supportive to prostate health (See below)
A large study on exercise and prostate cancer, published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2005, showed that men over age 65 who engaged in at least three hours of vigorous physical activity per week had a nearly 70 percent lower risk of advanced prostate cancer diagnosis or death from the disease. Exercise may be beneficial because it increases blood flow and nerve energy to the prostate and surrounding tissues. Other ways to increase blood flow to the area include sitz baths (30 minutes minimum) and massage. Specific massage techniques that can help clean the prostate and reduce swelling can be suggested by a qualified professional.
Bernard Rosen, Ph.D., is a nutrition consultant and educator who works with individuals, groups and companies to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. He has offices in Thiensville and Glendale. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call 262-389-9907 or go to BRWellness.com.
Nutrients and Herbs for a Healthy Prostate
B vitamins, particularly B6, play an important role in hormonal metabolism. For instance, they reduce the conversion of testosterone into DHT (DHT makes the prostate grow). Foods rich in B6 include bananas, potatoes, legumes and peanut butter, meat, chicken and certain fish, like salmon and tuna.
Vitamins C, E, and the mineral selenium are antioxidants which neutralize excess free radicals that create havoc throughout the body. These antioxidants are highly concentrated in colorful fruits and vegetables.
The essential fatty acids (Omega 3s—EPA and DHA) are anti-inflammatory and help to build and maintain healthy cells. Omega 3s are found mainly in cold water fish.
The trace mineral zinc—involved in the production of male hormones, sperm and semen—prevents the formation of DHT. The body’s ability to absorb zinc declines with age, and deficiency is common. The best sources of zinc include eggs, meat (especially organ meat), seafood (particularly oysters) and seeds (chiefly pumpkin).
Herbs that support the prostate gland include saw palmetto and pygeum. Saw palmetto inhibits the conversion of testosterone into DHT. Pygeum is an anti-inflammatory thought to interfere with the binding sites for DHT.