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Diet & BPH (Enlarged Prostate)

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a gland found only in men. About the size and shape of a walnut, the prostate is a part of the reproductive system. It wraps around the tube that carries urine from the bladder and sperm from the testicles out through the penis (called the urethra). A high percentage of men from middle age on have urinary problems associated with an enlarged prostate.

BPH or Enlarged Prostate

BPH stands for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. You need to be reassured that prostate enlargement is not prostate cancer. The prostate gland continues to grow throughout the life of a male. Growth is accelerated during adolescence and again from around age 50. As you grow older and the prostate has grown larger the chances of discomfort occurring are greater than in your younger years. Because of its position surrounding the urethra, the larger prostrate compresses the tube and makes urination difficult. The condition cannot be cured, but there are methods to treat the symptoms.

The symptoms of BPH involve urinary habits. Increased trips to the bathroom, especially at night, inability to completely empty the bladder, dribbling, and feeling the need to urinate then having difficulty doing so are common symptoms. You should visit your doctor if these symptoms arise. Avoiding treatment can lead to more serious problems like kidney problems or trouble with your bladder.

Again, BPH does not cause cancer or increase your chances of getting it. BPH can raise prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels 2 to 3 times the normal limits. High PSA levels do carry a great risk of getting cancer.

Diet Factors for Reducing BPH

There have been many studies concerning BPH and some common dietary threads discovered. Men who consume higher calories or higher amounts of protein (beef) had the highest risk factors. Dietary choices for treating BPH symptoms are apples, onions, tea, legumes, and particularly soy. Low fat and no caffeine diets can slow the enlargement of the prostate. Saw Palmetto supplements have been shown to reduce the rate of growth in BPH.

  • Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, green tea, and soy. Eat foods rich in omega-3 oils like salmon, sardines, and mackerel. These cold water fish are rich in omega-3 oils, the healthy oils, and benefit the prostate. Flaxseed oil is another good source of omega-3s. You can add flaxseed to salads, but don’t cook with it. Raw pumpkin seeds are another great source for omega-3 and zinc.
  • Food high in fat and cholesterol should be avoided. Researchers believe that the low occurrence of BPH in Asian men is due to their lower fat diet. Cut back on fatty red meats, butter and margarine, and whole milk. Refined carbohydrates found in products such as white bread and white flour pasta should be eaten in much smaller amounts or avoided altogether. Be very discriminating about how much sugar you consume.
  • Tobacco, beer, alcohol, and coffee are detrimental and cutting these way back or totally can alleviate BPH symptoms. Consumption of beer increases the production of prolactin, a hormone that affects dihydrotestosterone which in turn causes prostate cells to multiply more rapidly. Cell multiplication is thought to be the core reason for prostate enlargement.
  • Look into taking saw palmetto supplements. The medical value from the berries found on the saw palmetto, or dwarf palm, have been known for some time to fight the symptoms of BPH. It is believed to inhibit the actions of testosterone on the prostate that causes enlargement.
  • Zinc is very beneficial to good prostate health as well as vitamin C and E. But consumption of zinc depletes your copper levels. Talk to a profession about supplements before you start taking anything beyond a daily multivitamin.

If you find that you are experiencing symptoms of BPH, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. He will have several questions and suggestions for keeping the aggravations of BPH under control.

Content Created/Medically Reviewed by our Expert Doctors
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