Enlarged Prostate Diet Recommendations
As a man, especially as you begin to reach your golden years, regular prostate gland exams are essential. There are multiple conditions that affect the prostate, most of which are more prevalent in men over 50 years old. Some of these conditions are serious, while others, like prostate enlargement, are relatively harmless. That’s not to say that prostate enlargement isn’t uncomfortable and incredibly inconvenient unless you enjoy making a trip to the bathroom every 30 minutes that is. Some researchers say that prostate enlargement is unavoidable and that some men are just more prone to it than others. There are a few treatment options for managing the prostate growth rate and all of the uncomfortable side effects that go along with it. However, one of the most common suggestions by doctors for men with this problem is a diet change, eliminating bladder irritants and working to manage body fat.
What Is an Enlarged Prostate?
The medical condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH refers to an enlarged prostate. The prostate is a gland that wraps around the base of the male urethra so all men are at risk of developing an enlarged prostate. However, you may be at a higher risk as you age. According to researchers at the National Kidney and Urological Disease Information Clearinghouse, benign prostatic hyperplasia is the most common disease affecting the prostate in men over 50 and it affects over 50% of men by the age of 60. This number climbs to an astonishing 90% when a man reaches 85, according to the American Urological Association. Many doctors say that an enlarged prostate is simply a side effect of aging, and little can be done to prevent it.
Because the prostate is located around the base of the urethra, or the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the exit, the swelling of this gland can have several side effects that affect your urinary tract. Men who suffer from BPH often wake up frequently during the night with an intense urge to urinate. For some men, the frequency is a problem during the day as well. Men with BPH may also experience difficulty starting a stream of urine, painful urination or dribbling during urination. It may seem difficult to empty your bladder. These symptoms occur because the prostate swelling essentially blocks off the urethra, making it difficult for urine to leave the bladder and enter the tube for elimination.
If you experience any or many of these symptoms, they may be tale-tale signs of an enlarged prostate gland. You should talk to your doctor about your prostate problems. They will be able to perform certain physical exams and blood work to determine if there is a problem with your prostate. Once the issue is diagnosed, they will talk with you about treatment options and lifestyle changes that may help lessen the negative effects, such as a diet change.
How Should I Change My Diet?
Your doctor may suggest several lifestyle changes to help you cope with the side effects of benign prostatic hyperplasia. One of the most common suggestions made by urologists is a diet change. Your doctor may ask you to describe your current diet to determine what foods and drinks you may be consuming to further irritate your problem. Try to be thorough when explaining your diet choices. Some of these foods and drinks that may worsen the symptoms include beverages high in caffeine, like coffee, tea, and energy drinks and foods with a high-fat content. Some researchers suggest that a man who eats a high quantity of red meat is more likely to suffer from more severe symptoms related to their BPH, though this evidence is inconclusive.
Your doctor may suggest a diet with requirements like:
- Drinking plenty of water to keep urination regular and hydrated.
- Avoiding high-fat foods and replacing them with a low fat or fat-free alternative.
- Avoiding high sodium intake—it can lead to dehydration.
- Getting nutrients from four or more servings of vegetables per day, including many green vegetables.
- Increasing your Zinc intake. Foods with a naturally high level of zinc include seeds like pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds, as well as foods like chickpeas, garlic, dark chocolate, oysters, crab, duck, and lamb. Some studies have linked the consumption of dried pumpkin seeds with a decreased risk for prostate cancer.
- Increasing your vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is prevalent in many fruits and vegetables. Some of the most concentrated natural sources of vitamin C include peppers, tomatoes, oranges, strawberries, pineapples, Brussels sprouts, snap peas, kale, and broccoli.
- Increase fiber intake, including many fibers from vegetables.
Researchers at the University of California concluded, after a two-week trial consisting of 15 male subjects, that a low-fat, high-fiber diet actually decreased the growth of prostate cells and reversed enlargement to decrease the severity of associated symptoms. Higher body fat is linked to more severe symptoms related to BPH.
Other Lifestyle Changes to Manage an Enlarged Prostate
Aside from suggesting changes to your diet, your doctor may have other helpful suggestions for lifestyle changes that can help lessen the severity of your symptoms. Some things that have been said to help men who suffer from benign prostatic hyperplasia include:
- Increasing physical activity to get at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise each day. This can be anything that raises your heart rate, like a brisk walk or jog or riding a bicycle.
- Reduce and maintain low belly fat.
- Don’t hold your bladder. Urinate as frequently as you feel the need to.
- Take your time when you urinate, making sure to empty your bladder entirely.
If you think that you may have an enlarged prostate or have recently been diagnosed with BPH, talk to your doctor about changes you can make to help you manage your symptoms. They will be able to discuss with you all of the available treatment options, as well as diet and lifestyle changes that may impact your condition. A simple change in the way that you eat may have you running to the bathroom less and less.