By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
Enlarged prostate (in medical terms, benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH), is the most common health problem among males over the age of 50.
In their seventies and eighties, at least 90% of men are afflicted, and at least half over 60 are tormented by symptoms. But did you know that you can help support a healthy prostate through the foods you choose to eat?
An enlarged prostate can put too much pressure on the urethra, the tube that drains urine from the bladder. The pressure often disrupts muscle function that regulates urine flow. The result: more frequent bathroom visits including during the night, difficulty to start and maintain a good stream, and incomplete evacuation of the bladder. All that can be very frustrating! The disrupted sleep can be fatiguing.
Even more serious than BPH is prostate cancer, one of the most prevalent male cancers, accounting for at least 29,000 deaths each year. Although no connection between BPH and prostate cancer has been found, both can present similar symptoms. An additional indicator of cancer may be blood in your semen or pain during urination/ejaculation. Be sure to see a doctor immediately if these symptoms occur.
In my book, The Healing Kitchen, I focus on the diet changes that can help you prevent enlarged prostate issues, and even guard against cancer! I detail specific foods that can help form a protective shield within your body, and reduce the likelihood of prostate problems.
Take a look at these food-and-prostate tips and give your body the assistance it needs:
- The best protection against prostate disease is to adopt what I call the Pan-Asian Mediterranean Diet (PAM Diet). By combining documented anti-cancer and disease-fighting elements in both the Asian and Mediterranean diets, you maximum the dietary firepower of your body. This is a high-fiber, vegetable-rich strategy that limits fats and alcohol and definitely reduces the risk of BPH.
- Aim for at least ten servings of high quality, prostate protective fruits and vegetables daily to reduce risk of BPH.
- Tomatoes are terrific, especially when cooked! Cooking tomatoes increases their concentration of lycopene, an antioxidant that neutralizes the cell damage caused by free radicals. Eat tomatoes in as many ways as you can, including juice, sauce, and paste, and add a bit of healthy fat, such as from extra-virgin olive oil, that makes lycopene better absorbed.
- Eat a diet rich in selenium, an immune boosting trace mineral with powerful antioxidant ability. Selenium helps your body to fight early cancer cells. Foods like fish and shellfish are great sources of selenium, along with whole grains and oats. For fish, I like wild salmon, mackerel, and herring.
- Studies indicate that soy foods in the Asian diet could explain why men those countries have far lower rates of prostate cancer than Americans. So don’t skip on the soy. Get it organic if possible. Examples: tofu, soy nuts, edamame, miso, soy milk, and tempeh.
- The allium family of vegetables, including stars like onions, garlic, scallions, and chives defend against prostate tumors by targeting the compounds that initiate tumor growth.
- Load up on legumes to reduce your risk of prostate cancer. Research consistently shows that eating more legumes like kidney beans, split peas and lentils, just to name a few, significantly reduces the risk.
- Raise your level of omega-3 fatty acids by adding fish to your diet. These healthy, anti-inflammatory fats have been found to curb the growth of prostate cancer cells.
- Cruciferous vegetables are anti-cancer powerhouses, rich in antioxidant and sulfur content. Eating them three or more times a week may lower your prostate cancer risk by a whopping 40% over individuals who eat them once or less. This category of vegetables includes broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, Brussels sprouts, and collards.
- Ditch the added sugar as well as refined carbs like white bread, chips, crackers and pastas. These foods flood the body with sugar. In excess they cause spikes and drops in your blood sugar level, causing fatigue and inflammation. Cancer cells actually use sugar for fuel, which means you can help starve them by just not eating junk!
- Don’t exceed a drink or two of alcohol a day. Too much alcohol depletes your body of critical minerals such as zinc that helps keep your prostate healthy.
- Lower your risk of prostate cancer by reducing dietary fat, processed meat, and red meat.
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