by Jenny Smiechowski –
When it comes to men’s health, there’s a little gland that can cause big problems—the prostate.
The prostate is about the size of a walnut, and it’s located underneath your bladder (1). It plays an important role in reproduction because it creates the prostate fluid that becomes part of your semen (2). But—as most men over the age of 50 can attest to—this little gland can lead to major health problems once you hit middle age.
Prostate cancer—the most serious prostate-related problem—is the second most common cancer in American men, although it primarily occurs in men over the age of 65 (3). Some men also deal with prostatitis, a condition where the prostate gland becomes inflamed and swollen, often due to a bacterial infection (4).
But by far the most common prostate problem (especially for men over 50) is an enlarged prostate (also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH) (5). Believe it or not, this little walnut-sized gland can swell up to the size of a lemon or bigger (6). When this happens, it begins to put pressure on your urethra (a tube that transports your urine), which can lead to uncomfortable urinary symptoms like:
- A frequent need to pee
- Difficulty peeing
- Increased urinary urgency
- A weak urine flow
- A feeling like you can’t empty your bladder completely
Needless to say, prostate problems can really put a damper on your life. But luckily, there are natural ways to support your prostate, so you don’t have to deal with uncomfortable prostate-related symptoms. Here are the top five ways to prevent your little prostate from becoming a big problem:
Eat a pro-prostate diet
As you probably already know, diet plays a huge role in your overall health. So it’s no surprise that certain foods have been proven to either help or hurt your prostate health too. Studies have shown, for example, that deep-fried foods are linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer (7) and plant-based foods that contain large amounts of antioxidants called flavonoids have been linked to a decreased risk. That includes foods like oranges, grapefruits, tea, grapes, strawberries, onions and leafy greens (8).
Of course, instead of focusing on eating a handful of specific foods, your main focus should be to eat an all-around healthy diet—like the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to lower prostate cancer risk (9) and lower the risk of death for those who already have prostate cancer (10). Eating healthy will also help you maintain a healthy body weight, which is good news for your prostate since obesity is tied to an increased risk of BPH (11).
Exercise a lot
Since obesity is tied to an increased risk of BPH, exercise should be a mainstay of any plan to prevent prostate-related health issues. Studies have also shown that maintaining high levels of physical activity and having no belly fat are tied to a lower BPH risk (5) —more evidence that exercise takes a bite out of prostate problems. But if you’re using exercise to boost prostate health, make sure you do aerobic exercises (like running, biking or tennis), because research shows it’s more effective at improving prostate issues (12).
Do your best to de-stress
Like many other diseases, there seems to be a connection between high-stress levels and prostate problems. More than one scientific study has demonstrated the connection between high levels of mental stress and a troubled prostate. A 2005 study, for example, found that men with BPH who also had high levels of recent stress were more likely to have severe symptoms (13). And a 2013 study found that stress encourages prostate cancer cells to develop and spread (14).
Now, stressful situations are an unavoidable part of life. That’s why taking time to de-stress is so important. There are a lot of ways to de-stress, and what works best for you will depend on your personality and preferences. You can watch a funny movie, take a nap, meditate, read a good book, listen to music or whatever else helps you unwind. You can also turn to essential oils to relieve mental stress and anxiety (they’re incredibly effective!) or try one of these other natural ways to cope with stress.
Take your vitamins
Certain vitamins are linked to a decreased risk of prostate problems. Taking vitamin D supplements, for example, is tied to better outcomes for men with low-grade prostate cancer (15). Consequently, vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Vitamin C intake has also been linked to a decreased risk of prostate cancer (16), and so has vitamin K2 (17). Now, if you’re eating a healthy diet, you’ll probably get the vitamins you need from your food. But if you’re worried you’re not getting enough, you may want to take a whole food vitamin supplement just to be safe.
Harness the healing power of herbs
Your prostate health (and overall health) will surely benefit if you make the lifestyle changes mentioned above. But it’s never a bad idea to give your prostate an extra ounce of support— especially if you’re over 50. There are many herbs that are proven to encourage a healthy prostate so you may want to give them a try too.
One of the most effective is saw palmetto. A study published in 2008 found that men with early symptoms of BPH who took saw palmetto daily for ten years prevented their condition from progressing (18). Stinging nettle has also been scientifically proven to help with the symptoms of BPH. In fact, it’s a widely used treatment for BPH in Europe (19). If you do decide to give herbal remedies a try, you may want to start with Native Remedies’ Prostate Dr. It contains saw palmetto, stinging nettle and other prostate-supporting herbs, including red root, sarsaparilla root, turmeric root, and dong quai root.
But whatever method of prostate-support you choose, what’s most important is that you take care of your body (and your prostate) so you can live a long, healthy and comfortable life free from annoying (or even life-threatening) prostate problems.
- “About the Prostate.” Prostate Cancer Foundation. N.D. Web. 23 May 2017. <https://www.pcf.org/c/about-the-prostate/;.
- “How does the prostate work?” PubMed Health. 23 Aug 2016. Web. 23 May 2017. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072475/;.
- Nordqvist, Christian. “Prostate Cancer: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments.” Medical News Today. 11 May 2016. Web. 23 May 2017. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/150086.php;.
- “Prostatitis.” Mayo Clinic. N.D. Web. 23 May 2017. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prostatitis/home/ovc-20271415;.
- Nelson, Jennifer K. and Katherine Zeratsky. “Enlarged prostate — Does diet play a role?” Mayo Clinic. 15 Jan. 2010. Web. 23 May 2017. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/enlarged-prostate/bgp-20056146;.
- “Enlarged Prostate.” The National Association for Continence. N.D. Web. 23 May 2017. <https://www.nafc.org/enlarged-prostate-1/;.
- “Eating deep-fried food linked to increased risk of prostate cancer.” Science Daily. 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 23 May 2017. <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130128142849.htm;.
- “Plant-based foods may offer reduced risk for aggressive prostate cancer.” Science Daily. 29 Oct. 2012. Web. 23 May 2017. <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121019141128.htm;.
- Itsiopoulos C., Hodge A., and M. Kaimakamis. “Can the Mediterranean diet prevent prostate cancer?” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2009 Feb;53(2):227-39. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200800207. Web. 23 May 2017.
- Kenfield, Stacey A., et al. “Mediterranean Diet and Prostate Cancer Risk and Mortality in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.” European Urology. 2014 May; 65(5): 887–894. doi: 1016/j.eururo.2013.08.009. Web. 23 May 2017.
- Parsons, JK, et al.“Obesity and benign prostatic hyperplasia: clinical connections, emerging etiological paradigms and future directions.” Journal of Urology. 2009 Dec;182(6 Suppl):S27-31. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2009.07.086. Web. 23 May 2017.
- “10 diet & exercise tips for prostate health.” Harvard Health Publications. N.D. Web. 23 May 2017. <http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/10-diet-and-exercise-tips-for-prostate-health;.
- “Stress and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).” Harvard Health Publications. N.D. Web. 23 May 2017. <http://www.harvardprostateknowledge.org/stress-and-benign-prostatic-hyperplasia-bph;.
- “Prostate Cancer Linked To Stress And Nerves, Research Suggests.” HuffPost UK. 7 Nov. 2013 Web. 23 May 2017. <http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/07/11/prostate-cancer-link-stress-_n_3580878.html.;
- “Vitamin D may keep low-grade prostate cancer from becoming aggressive.” Science Daily. 22 Mar. 2015. Web. 23 May 2017. <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150322080155.htm;.
- Bai, Xiao-Yan, et al. “Association between Dietary Vitamin C Intake and Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Meta-analysis Involving 103,658 Subjects.” Journal of Cancer. 2015; 6(9): 913–921. doi: 7150/jca.12162. Web. 23 May 2017.
- Nimptsch K, Rohrmann S and J Linseisen. “Dietary intake of vitamin K and risk of prostate cancer in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg).” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008 Apr;87(4):985-92. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18400723. Web. 23 May 2017.
- Aliaev IuG, Vinarov AZ, Demidko IuL, Spivak LG. “The results of the 10-year study of efficacy and safety of Serenoa repens extract in patients at risk of progression of benign prostatic hyperplasia.” Urologiia. 2013 Jul-Aug;(4):32-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24159762. Web. 23 May 2017.
- “Stinging nettle.” PennState Hershey- Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. 1 Jan. 2017. Web. 23 May 2017. <http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=107&pid=33&gid=000275;.