Health & Wellness

Improve Enlarged Prostate Symptoms with These 15 Best Foods for Prostate Health

You can eat foods for prostate health? While it might sound farfetched, and it may not be a topic many men want to chat about in an office visit, the answer is yes. Enlarged prostates can be helped naturally, without all those nasty medications, if you consider the cause of enlargement before simply treating the symptoms.

In my practice, I find the most common cause of prostate enlargement is an excess of estrogen levels in relation to testosterone levels. That’s right—men produce estrogen, too. And when the storage form of estrogen, called estrone, starts to build up, it puts the prostate at risk for not only enlargement, but also cancer.

This build-up is known as estrogen dominance. The medications used for this condition are traditionally known as estrogen blockers (they prevent testosterone from converting into estrogen). But, instead, what if we took a step back and considered why the body is relying on estrogen conversion rather than just using that mighty testosterone?

Often, during a man’s annual screening, doctors review total testosterone levels—and many times those levels return low. The common solution is to prescribe testosterone in a cream, gel, or sublingual form. Sounds simple, right? The problem is that it’s not always as easy as it seems. If your body isn’t converting hormones correctly, adding more testosterone could actually put you at risk for developing more estrone. If your prostate was already enlarged, your doctor may have added an estrogen blocker medication at the same time, which can be problematic if your body is under stress.

Think about this for a second. If you’re under stress, your body will not take the time to make testosterone. There may be multiple reasons why your testosterone is low. Your body’s situation needs to be fully evaluated and treated individually and holistically. If investigated and treated properly, most prostate-related symptoms resolve and testosterone therapy, if still needed, will benefit the body, rather than cause further problems.

 

What Is an Enlarged Prostate?

An enlargedprostate glandis quite common among men—in fact by the time a man is 60 years old there is a 50/50 chance he will develop an enlarged prostate. But what exactly is the prostate glandand why does it become enlarged? [1]

Only males have a prostate gland, which produces semen, the fluid that sustains sperm. Located between the bladder and the penis, the prostate sits in front of the rectum. Running through the center of the prostate is the urethra, which is the tube that allows urine to flow from the body and also allows sperm to be discharged from the body during ejaculation.

An enlarged prostate is also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)and it affects many men over the age of 50. (I also see this condition in younger men who experience high levels of stress.)  As men age, testosterone levels drop, which leads to higher estrogen levels. Increased estrogen has been correlated with BPH. High levels of dihydrotestosterone have also been linked to BPH. The key here is to investigate the reason why your prostate is enlarged and pick the appropriate treatment, plus lifestyle changes, to reverse it once and for all. Remember, not all men are created equal.

There are strong links between other health conditions and development of BPH. Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other inflammatory conditions pose the greatest risk. Why? Well, there are a few reasons.

First, these conditions are all inflammatory and cause stress to the body. Second, improper blood sugar control leads to insulin resistance, and insulin resistance leads to obesity. Excess fat leads to the storage of estrogen and the resulting decline of testosterone. Finally, highly inflammatory fat diets (such as eating lots of red meats, smoked meats, and processed foods) have been linked to higher levels of prostate problems. [2] These diets also lend themselves to insulin resistance, adding more stress to the system. See a pattern here? It’s a vicious cycle.

Enlarged Prostate Symptoms

Symptoms and signs of enlarged prostate typically include urinary problems. Here are the most common enlarged prostate symptoms: [3]

  • Trouble urinating
  • Frequent urination (eight or more times per day)
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Limited urine stream or stream that starts and stops
  • Dribbling stream at the end of urinating
  • Frequent need to urinate while sleeping (nocturia)
  • Inability to empty the bladder (urinary retention)
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Painful ejaculation or urination
  • Urine with an abnormal smell or color
  • Fatigue (due to low adrenal and/or testosterone levels)
  • Insomnia (due to impacted adrenal and/or testosterone levels)
  • Low sex drive (due to impacted adrenal and/or testosterone levels)
  • Feeling “off” or “not right” (due to impacted adrenal and/or testosterone levels)

BPH symptoms are caused by a blocked urethra or an overworked bladder due to the blockage. Sometimes a man may not know he has a blockage until he can’t urinate. This is called acute urinary retention.

An untreated enlarged prostate gland can lead to other complications including blood in the urine (hematuria), urinary tract infections (UTIs), ongoing or chronic urinary retention, damage to the bladder or kidneys, and bladder stones.

BPH treatment may include lifestyle changes, hormone therapy, medication, herbal supplements, minimally invasive procedures, and surgery. Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms and the cause of the enlargement.

Prostatitis

I wanted to touch on another prostate condition that is quite common: prostatitis. It can be troubling when the prostate inflames, and the symptoms cause some serious discomfort. Good news is that it’s usually fairly treatable. So, try to get to a doctor as soon as possible to begin therapy.

Prostatitisis an inflammation of the prostate gland. There are four known types of prostatitis: chronic prostatitis(also known as chronic pelvic pain syndrome), acute bacterial prostatitis, chronic bacterial prostatitis, and asymptomatic prostatitis. [4]

The specific cause of chronic prostatitis is variable, but it’s commonly a microorganism that causes it. In the event that it’s chronic and without obvious cause, it’s important to consider a full, holistic work up of your hormones, stress response, gut (flora, digestion), and diet and lifestyle. Oftentimes, the organism causing the infection is highly resistant or is being re-exposed.

Bacterial prostatitis is due to a bacterial infection of the prostate gland and is the most common cause. The second most common cause is sexually transmitted organisms.

Some symptoms of prostatitis can be similar to BPH symptoms. In general, prostatitis symptoms may include an urgent and frequent need to urinate and painful urination.

Both chronic and acute bacterial prostatitis can cause fever, chills, body aches, burning or pain during urination, pain in the genital area and lower back, painful ejaculation, inability to start a urine stream or empty the bladder completely, and urinary blockage, among others.

Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome can also cause pelvic pain, pain in the penis, scrotum, and lower back.

Prostatitis treatmentmay include medications, antibiotics, and complementary treatments such as herbal therapy, acupuncture, sitz baths, heat/cold therapy, physical therapy, and relaxation therapy. Reducing or avoiding any substances that can irritate the bladder, such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods is also recommended for treating BPH.

Prostate Cancer

Symptoms of prostate cancer can be similar to BPH and may also include blood in the urine or semen and pain in back, hips, or pelvis. If you have any of these symptoms or other symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible. [5]

Regular prostate cancer screenings are recommended for men beginning at age 50, or younger depending on your family history and ethnicity. [6] Getting a prostate cancer screening can help to catch prostate cancer at an early stage before any symptoms are present.

A prostate cancer screening includes a blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. PSA is produced by the prostate and can be higher in men with prostate cancer. Keep in mind, though, that prostatitis and estrogen dominance can also raise the PSA, so it is truly important to have a digital rectal examination as well so that your doctor can physically feel if any lumps, nodules, or irregularities exist in your prostate. [7]

 

Enlarged Prostate Diet: 15 Best Foods for Prostate Health

In many ways, following an enlarged prostate diet simply means eating a healthy balance of foods for prostate health, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. [8, 9, 10]

Following a plant-based diet that includes four or more servings of vegetables per day is a great way to boost not only prostate health but also overall health. In fact, research has shown a correlation between eating a nutrient-rich diet and a lowered risk of cancer.

Following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown specifically to help lower the risk of prostate cancer. [11]

Below are some of the key nutrients that help to improve BPH symptoms, followed by a quick list of the best foods for prostate health.

Polyphenols

Research has shown that foods that are rich in polyphenols may be helpful in managing BPH symptoms. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant that are abundant in many plant foods. Some great sources include fruits such as grapes, apples, pears, cherries, and berries, which contain up to 200 to 300 mg of polyphenols per 100 grams fresh weight. Other great sources include spinach and other leafy greens and onions.

In terms of polyphenol-rich foods that may help BPH symptoms, green tea, flaxseed, and tomatoes are some sources you may want to consider adding to you diet. [12]

Lycopene

Lycopene is a compound found in naturally occurring red pigments known as carotenoids. It is especially common in tomatoes and tomato products.

While more clinical evidence is needed, lab and animal studies have shown that an increase in lycopene consumption may help to decrease prostate cancer risk. You can also boost your intake by taking lycopene supplements. [13, 14]

Vitamin C

A meta-analysis of research studies concluded that foods high in vitamin C can be beneficial to prostate health and may help to decrease the risk of prostate cancer. [15]

Some commonly recognized and recommended foods that contain vitamin C include red and green bell peppers; citrus fruit; cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower; cantaloupe, and tomatoes. These are great foods for prostate health. However, you will have to eat a lot of these to get the amount of vitamin C needed to assist in cellular repair and immune function. Luckily, vitamin C is also readily available as a supplement.

In my opinion, the most effective foods and herbs for increasing your vitamin C intake are: kakadu plums, acerola cherries, rose hips, chili peppers, guava, sweet yellow peppers, black currants, thyme, parsley, mustard spinach, kale, lemons, papayas, strawberries, and oranges.

List of 15 Best Foods for Prostate Health

Here are some of the top foods for prostate health:

  1. Acerola cherries
  2. Black mustard seeds
  3. Broccoli
  4. Brussels sprouts
  5. Cabbage
  6. Cauliflower
  7. Chia seeds
  8. Chili peppers
  9. Kale
  10. Oranges
  11. Pumpkin seeds
  12. Strawberries
  13. Tomatoes
  14. Turnips
  15. Walnuts

Natural Remedies for Enlarged Prostate

In addition to dietary changes, some natural remedies for enlarged prostate include:

Exercise

Studies have shown that regular exercise can help to promote a healthy prostate. [16, 17]

Saw palmetto

Saw palmetto is an herbal remedy that has demonstrated efficacy for reducing enlarged prostate symptoms. [18] Saw palmetto assists in slowing the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, which is similar to most of the prostate medications on the market. It also has an anti-estrogenic effect, contains inflammation-cooling properties, and helps to relax the urinary tract. It’s no wonder why it is so commonly used in supplements for BPH.

Stinging nettle

Nettle contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties, among others, and can help to relieve symptoms of BPH. [19] It also works as a nice diuretic, taking stress off the prostate.

Pumpkin seed

A 2014 study showed a reduction in BPH symptoms among participants after 12 months of treatment with pumpkin seed capsules. [20] Another study also noted that pumpkin seed oil, as well as the combination of pumpkin seed oil with saw palmetto, may be an effective treatment for BPH. [21] Pumpkin seeds also contain a ton of zinc, which is essential for proper prostate function. In fact, low levels have been linked to prostate cancer. [22]

Sunshine

That’s right: Getting outside for a few minutes each day is a great way to get vitamin D, which can help to boost your prostate health and overall wellbeing. If you’re not able to get outside much or you still need additional vitamin D, you may want to consider a vitamin D supplement. [23, 24]

 

Key Takeaways

  • An enlarged prostate gland is also known as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). Enlarged prostates can be helped naturally by adapting certain lifestyle habits, including eating some of the best foods for prostate health.
  • BPH can cause a variety of urinary symptoms including frequent and urgent urination among others.
  • If you experience symptoms of BPH, see your healthcare provider.
  • If you are a male between 50 years old and 69 years old (or younger depending on your family history), experts recommend getting a prostate cancer screening each year.
  • Dietary changes and natural remedies can help manage enlarged prostate symptoms. Foods for prostate health include cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and other foods rich in vitamins C. Certain supplements may also help BPH symptoms.

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