Male prostate health: tips to stay healthy
The VITL Nutrition Team
Our in-house nutritionist shares tips on supporting your prostate's overall health.
Although there is no proven prevention strategy for the development of prostate diseases, healthy lifestyle choices, such as frequent exercise and a balanced diet, can reduce the risk of prostate from inflammation, benign hyperplasia and cancer.
Below are 10 steps that you can take to support your prostate’s overall health:
1. Inflammation of the prostate, also known as prostatitis, is quite common in men and can cause symptoms such as difficulty urinating, painful urination and pain in the genitals. Limit alcohol consumption to help prevent inflammation or irritation of the prostate. Avoiding excess caffeine or hot and spicy foods can also help.
There is no clear indication that alcohol consumption can affect the risk of prostate cancer, but one study found that people who regularly drank 1-2 drinks everyday for many years had an increased risk. 1
2. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. These contain antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients necessary for the healthy functioning of the body and are believed to reduce the risk of prostate cancer - although research has not shown that any particular nutrient can be guaranteed to reduce the risk.
Eating more fruits and vegetables also tends to give you "less room" for other foods, such as high-fat foods. Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat each day by eating them as snacks or by adding an extra serving of fruit or vegetables to each meal.
3. Eat fish. Fatty fish - such as salmon, sardines, tuna and trout - contain the essential fatty acid omega-3, a powerful anti-inflammatory. If you do not eat fish, supplementation of omega-3 (DHA and EPA) may also be advised.
4. Choose a low fat diet. Foods high in fat include meats, oils, nuts, and dairy products such as milk and cheese. In studies, men who consumed the most fat each day had an increased risk of prostate cancer. Although this correlation does not always prove that excess fat causes prostate cancer, reducing the amount of fat you eat each day has other proven benefits, such as better weight control, which in turn helps your heart and metabolic processes. To reduce the amount of fat you eat each day, cut down on fatty foods or choose low-fat varieties.
Eat more plant-based fat and avoid animal fats. In studies examining fat and the risk of prostate cancer, animal fats were more likely to be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. Animal products that contain fats include meat, lard and butter. Use olive oil for cooking instead of butter. Add nuts or seeds to your salad instead of cheese or creamy dressings. 2 3
5. Lower your cholesterol levels to help prevent conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia or so-called swollen prostate. Ongoing studies show a link between free radicals released through cholesterol metabolism and cells that may be carcinogenic or have the potential for cancer growth. This can be achieved by reducing the intake of saturated fats (from meat, processed snacks or sweets) and increasing the intake of good, unsaturated fats found in olive oil, oily fish, nuts and seeds.
6. Take supplements, such as zinc, to help your prostate maintain better healthy function. The prostate requires large amounts of zinc for optimal health, as zinc is responsible for creating secretions that stimulate and help the body absorb testosterone, the male hormone, itself. Hormonal imbalances can cause inflammation and irritation of the prostate resulting in enlarged prostate.
7. Maintain a healthy weight. Men with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher are considered obese. Obese people are at increased risk for prostate cancer. If you are overweight or obese, try to lose weight. You can do this by reducing the number of calories you eat each day and increasing the amount of exercise you do.
If you have a healthy weight, try to maintain it by exercising most days of the week and choosing a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. 4
8. Exercise most days of the week. Studies investigating the relationship between exercise and prostate cancer risk have mostly shown that men who exercise may have a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Exercise has many other health benefits and can reduce the risk of heart disease and other cancers. Exercise can also help you maintain your weight or it can help you lose weight. 5
If you have not already started exercising, make an appointment with your doctor to make sure you are OK to start. When you start exercising, go slowly. Add physical activity to your day by parking your car further away from where you are going and try to climb the stairs instead of the lift. The goal is 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
9. Schedule a prostate exam at your specialist urologist. A check-up examination, on an annual basis, can help prevent minor problems before they become major issues. Screening for prostate disease can help protect your prostate and detect prostate cancer or abnormal swelling (hypertrophy) much earlier, before these conditions develop and are difficult to treat.
10. Discuss with your Urologist the risk that you may have of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia or prostate cancer, since, in both of these prostate diseases, genetics plays a key role. For those with a very high risk of prostate cancer, there may be other options for reducing the risk, such as with medication. If you think you may have a high risk of prostate cancer, talk to your doctor.
To keep on top of your overall health, check out our Male Multivitamin here.
You might also be interested in:
Facial Hair; why do some grow it well, while others don't?
Hair loss in men: what can be done?