Out of sight, out of mind; you know how that goes! It’s human nature, yet it’s not in our best interest when it comes to health, including a healthy prostate. So when we begin to experience signs and symptoms of problems with the walnut-sized gland, that’s when we wish we had laid some preventive groundwork.
Now’s the time to take those steps and protect your prostate against infection, enlargement, irritation, and cancer, regardless of your age or whether you are already encountering problems with your prostate or not. If you are showing signs or symptoms, these tips can provide some relief and may even treat it.
The steps aren’t difficult; in fact, you can integrate them into your daily routine with little to no fanfare. Taken individually, these suggestions are helpful; collectively, they have the most power.
Go clean. Most conventional health care items, such as shampoo, body lotions, deodorant, toothpaste, and similar items, as well as common household cleaning products, harbor chemicals that are harmful to your health overall and your prostate in particular. Among the more common culprits are parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, petroleum, triclosn, sodium lauryl sulfate, toluene, synthetic colors, fragrances, and more. Choose all-natural or organic products instead.
Go green. Green tea is a rich source of catechins, potent antioxidants with anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties as well as an ability to boost immunity. Research has indicated that the catechins in green tea may reduce the risk of an enlarged prostate, improve urinary function, and aid in the fight against prostate cancer.
Skip the caffeine. If you drink coffee, tea, or soda, caffeine-free is the way to go, as this compound can irritate the prostate and the bladder. If you are already experiencing urinary tract symptoms, caffeine can make them worse. (Sodas of all types also should be avoided, as research shows drinking just 11 ounces per day can increase a man’s risk of developing serious prostate cancer.)
Be a man on the move. Exercise is essential not only for overall health; it also can help you lose weight, which in turn can reduce symptoms of enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH), prostatitis, and prostate cancer. Physical exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of developing BPH and urinary tract symptoms associated with it. If you are overweight, exercise and weight loss are important ways to improve prostate health.
Lack of exercise can result in obstructed blood flow, which in turn can increase the risk of prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. As little as 30 minutes of brisk walking five to six days a week is recommended.
Be a plant man. Eating a mainly plant-based diet is highly recommended for a healthy prostate. Fruits, vegetables (especially green leafy ones), whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds should make up the majority—if not all—of your diet. Processed foods should be avoided, as well as added sugars and saturated fats. The Mediterranean diet, DASH diet, and entirely plant-based diets are recommended.
Try supplements. Even if you follow a healthy diet much of the time, sometimes it’s easy to fall short on the nutrients your body needs, and your prostate in particular. A variety of supplements are on the market for the prostate, and some of those with scientific evidence for their use include saw palmetto, vitamin D3, zinc, pygeum, green tea extract, and beta-sitosterol. Your best bet: one supplement that includes all or nearly all of them.
Practice (safe) sex. Use it AND lose it—as having sex or ejaculating may actually reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer. The findings of a Harvard study found that men who had more frequent ejaculations had a 33 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer than their peers who reported fewer such occasions during their lifetime.
Get D. Not too much and not too little—that’s generally the rule when it comes to exposure to the sun so your body can create vitamin D. Research has indicated that vitamin D can reduce your risk of prostate cancer while also being good for heart health and optimal function of your pancreas and kidneys. If you don’t get about 20 minutes of sun exposure three to four days a week, you may want to take a vitamin D supplement. Before you do, however, have your levels checked—a simple blood test will do the trick.
Be screened. The recommendations for prostate cancer screening vary depending on whether you are considered to be normal or high risk. Men who are high risk (e.g., African-Americans, men of Scandinavian descent, men who have family members diagnosed with prostate cancer) should consider getting screened at age 40. Men who are at average risk should consider screenings starting around age 55. Overall, the decision to begin prostate cancer screenings is individual and personal and should be made after consulting with a knowledgeable healthcare provider.
Put out the butt. The carbon monoxide in tobacco works to lower levels of red blood cells, which reduces the amount of oxygen that travels throughout the body, including the prostate. Smoking also raises the levels of cell-damaging free radicals, which can lead to gene mutations and the development of cancer cells.
Keeping your prostate healthy involves some commonsense habits that will benefit your gland as well as your overall health. It’s never too late to start caring for your future!
Bettuzzi S et al. Chemoprevention of human prostate cancer by oral administration of green tea catechins in volunteers with high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia: a preliminary report from a one-year proof-of-principle study. Cancer Research 2006 Jan; 66(2)
Hsu C. A soda a day raises a man’s aggressive prostate cancer risk by 40 percent. Medical Daily 2012 Nov 27
Leitzmann MF et al. Ejaculation frequency and subsequent risk of prostate cancer. JAMA 2004 Apr 7; 291(13): 1578-86