As men age, prostate problems becoming an increasing occurrence, with 50% of men over 50 experiencing an enlarged prostate. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located at the base of the bladder and grows larger as men age.
Prostatitis, Benign prostate enlargement, also known as BPH and prostate cancer are the most common prostate problems experienced.
BPH puts pressure on the bladder, obstructing the urethra. It is the most common cause of lower urinary tract complications in men.
This pressure is the cause of BPH urinary symptoms including painful urination, frequent urination , an overactive bladder and urinary incontinence. Research suggests that certain risk factors such as genetics, diet and lifestyle increase your risk and severity of symptoms.
Here, we discuss the most critical information about BPH. We highlight known risk factors as well as the available evidence on their causal link to BPH.
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What are the symptoms of BPH?
The severity of symptoms in men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia varies, but they tend to worsen over time. Common symptoms include:
Frequent urination and Nocturia
Usually when we sleep, the body produces less urine, and typically people do not need to wake up during the night for a toilet visit. However, for some people, this is not the case, and they are woken with the need to urinate. The impact of BPH on the lower urinary tract increases the frequency of urination, affects the flow of urine, especially at night (nocturia). This can disrupt sleep patterns and may even be a sign of an underlying health problem.
Blood in urine
Known medically as hematuria, blood in your urine can be one of the first indications of a prostate problem. The enlarged prostate can press on the urethra, which can cause bladder irritation and result in bleeding. There are two types of hematuria. Microscopic haematuria is when blood is detectable only under a microscope. Gross haematuria is when the presence of blood in the urine is obvious, and the urine looks red, pink, or brownish.
Urgent need to urinate
Like frequent urination, the prostate pressing on the bladder reduces bladder control, which increases the urge to urinate. This can be an overwhelming and sudden urge, that comes without warning, and you find yourself unable to wait to use the toilet. In general, the bladder can store urine long enough for you to get to the nearest bathroom. And people typically need to empty it 4-8 times a day. Urination urgency creates a compelling desire to pass urine. And this desire is hard to control. In many men, urgent and frequent urination can affect the quality of life and often requires attention from a healthcare provider.
BPH can induce a weak urine stream and dribble at the end of urination. In some patients, it makes it difficult to empty the bladder and disrupts their urinary flow, which may increase the risk of urinary tract infection. You may find that your urine starts and stops and have problems with finishing urination.
BPH and other prostate conditions can reduce bladder control over time, leading sudden uncontrolled need for urination or leaking due to strain.
BPH symptoms cause psychological stress, which reduces your sex drive and sexual satisfaction. Certain medications taken for an enlarged prostate can also have sexual side effects that can impact libido.
Infection and kidney damage
Urinary retention due to BPH associated reduced urine flow increases the risk of infections and renal damage.
What causes BPH?
So, what causes BPH? The causes of prostate enlargement are not well understood. However, changes in the balance of sex hormones play a critical role. An imbalance in the ratio of oestrogen to testosterone increases the risk of BPH.
Oestrogen may remain unchanged in men at risk of BPH, but testosterone levels decrease as men age. This can induce prostate enlargement. It is noteworthy that testosterone does not cause BPH but is necessary for BPH to develop.
Furthermore, emerging evidence supports the role of metabolic diseases and inflammation in the development of BPH. These diseases can alter insulin levels, which stimulate cell growth while inflammation can induce the release of growth factors.
Studies demonstrated that the prevalence of BPH rises with increased age. A histological prevalence of 50% and 80% is observed in men over 60 and 90 years of age. Prostate volume also increases with age, which is associated with an increased risk of BPH.
Family history is a strong predictor of BPH surgery in men below the age of 60 years. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease. Therefore, some inherited genetic variations result in larger prostate volume and early onset of BPH.
Studies show risk factors such as diet, physical activity, and alcohol consumption influence the development of BPH. Consistently, increased total energy intake combined with high fat, dairy consumption, and physical inactivity increase the risk of BPH and its progression.
This is why paying attention to your diet is important. In the same way that certain foods can increase your risk of prostate enlargement, others foods can reduce your risk. A diet rich in cruciferous vegetables, fresh fruits and fish rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids decrease the risk of BPH. Likewise, high levels of blood vitamin E, lycopene and carotene correlate with lower rates of the disease.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other health problems. Increasing research has indicated that metabolic syndrome may also increase a man’s chances of developing an enlarged prostate. Obesity, a poor diet and physical inactivity leads to metabolic syndrome, increasing the risk of prostate conditions. Disruption in the regulation of serum insulin levels due to metabolic complication stimulates prostate growth.
A research team in Italy evaluated 11 studies that involved BPH and metabolic syndrome. The authors concluded that most of them indicated a clear association between an enlarged prostate and metabolic syndrome. They noticed that men who had at least three of the five components of metabolic syndrome had an 80 percent increased risk of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). A follow up study published in the Korean Journal of Urology shed some more light on this. Researchers reported on 521 men ages 40 to 70 who underwent transrectal ultrasound. They found that men who were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome had significantly higher PSA levels and prostate volume than those without metabolic syndrome.
Inflammation promotes the development and progression of BPH. For instance, men on daily anti-inflammatory drugs show reduced risk of developing BPH and severe lower urinary symptoms. Moreover, the majority of prostate tissues from BPH surgeries are inflamed. However, the underlying cause of prostate inflammation remains poorly defined. Autoimmune response, obesity and infection are potential causes of prostate inflammation.
Complications of BPH
In addition to urinary tract infections, BPH can lead to severe damage to specific organs. Common complications include:
- Bladder stones and damage – due to urine retention.
- Kidney infection and damage.
Can diet help with Symptoms of BPH?
Much of the variation in prostate health is related to diet, and several observational studies have linked the intake of different foods with a reduced risk of BPH. Low-fat diets rich in grains, fruits, and vegetables all enhance prostate health, thus reducing the risk of BPH.
Some beneficial foods include:
Tomatoes contain high levels of lycopene, a plant carotenoid found in red fruits and vegetables. This antioxidant protects against prostate conditions. A mixed supplementation with lycopene and selenium showed clinical utility for reducing prostate growth, evidence by reduced PSA levels (Gontero et al., 2015).
Sesame seed is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and a range of minerals. It has a potent anti-androgenic activity suitable for treating prostate conditions (Rashed et al., 2014).
Further, sesame seed contains a high amount of beta-sitosterol, a potent anti-inflammatory agent. A randomised clinical trial demonstrated that this compound significantly improved symptoms of urinary obstruction caused by BPH (Klippel et al., 1997). These results suggest that consumption of sesame seeds extract, or oil can improve BPH symptoms.
The level of daily tea consumption correlates with a low incidence of disease modulated by oxidative stress and inflammation. Therefore, green tea can reduce the risk of BPH and relieve symptoms (Peluso and Serafini, 2017).
Chickpeas and several legumes are rich sources of isoflavones that may reduce the risk of prostate conditions.
Salmon has unusually high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory polyunsaturated fatty acids (Maroon and Bost, 2006). Several observational studies have consistently found that dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids reduces the risk of BPH (Bravi et al., 2006). Salmon is also one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D. Increasing intake of vitamin D from diet and supplements can inhibit BPH development and progression (Espinosa et al., 2013).
Turmeric contains several naturally occurring compounds, including beta-carotene, vitamin C, and curcumin. In particular, curcumin is a potent antioxidant that can reduce the levels of pro-inflammatory factors (Zhang et al., 2010).
Seeds of grass-like plants are rich in fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. High-fibre diets lower the risk of metabolic syndromes and BPH (TARIQ et al., 2000; Wang et al., 2005).
Other fruit and vegetables
- Bell peppers
These foods are good sources of dietary fibre, rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and other protective minerals.
Clinical trials demonstrated lower PSA levels (a marker of BPH) in men who received supplements containing pomegranate, green tea, broccoli and turmeric extracts (Thomas et al., 2014).
Fruit and vegetables reduce the risk of metabolic imbalance and the associated inflammation (Liu, 2003; Ness and Powles, 1997).
Lifestyle changes to manage BPH Symptoms
Lifestyle changes are effective in reducing the severity of BPH symptoms. Regular physical activity and dietary changes can help relieve symptoms.
Some key lifestyle changes to consider include:
Smoking can increase the risk of BPH through oxidative stress and inflammation. Smoking cessation will reduce exposure to free radicals and toxins. So, you should speak to a doctor about smoking cessation options if you’re looking to quit.
Chronic stress harms both mental and physical health. Stress can amplify BPH symptoms, potentially through altered immune function. Therefore, you should consider destressing methods like exercise and meditation.
Reduce fluid intake in the evening
Nocturia is a common BPH symptom, with a profound impact on health and quality of life. Reducing fluid intake in the evening can help reduce nocturia and the subsequent disruption to sleep.
Emptying the bladder when urinating
Make sure to empty the bladder completely to reduce the impact of urge incontinence. This adaption can also reduce the risk of BPH associated bladder infections.
Pelvic floor and bladder training exercises
The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder and bowel and help to control urination. These muscles weaken with aging and by prostate enlargement. But, doing pelvic floor muscle exercises can help strengthen these muscles. Strong pelvic muscles can reduce some of the urinary problems caused by BPH, including leaking urine and urge incontinence.
Medications like antihistamines, diuretics, and decongestants can exacerbate the symptoms of BPH. So, you should avoid these medications to help with the urinary symptoms of BPH.
Increasing research has shed light on the benefits of using natural supplements for BPH.
Clinical research has shown that Beta-Sitosterol is one of the most proven and effective nutritional supplements for prostate health.
Sterols are steroid alcohols that are naturally occurring in plants, animals, and fungi. Numerous studies have shown Beta-Sitosterol to be effective in reducing urinary urgency, frequency, and nighttime waking.
Further, evidence of this symptomatic relief was demonstrated in a review, which assessed 519 men from 4 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials, (lasting 4 to 26 weeks).
In these studies, beta-sitosterol improved urinary symptom scores and urinary flow rates. It also significantly reduced the volume of residual urine in the bladder.
Beta-sitosterol compounds are expensive, significantly more so than fatty acids. So, as a result, many products on the market are upwards of 70% fatty acids, with less than 30% Beta-sitosterol. However, for Beta-sitosterol to be effective, it needs to be at a ratio of 90% plant sterols to 10% fatty acids. And that’s why this is exactly the amount in Total Health.
Clinically formulated, Ben’s Total Health works to combat the root causes of prostate disease, helping to reduce nighttime waking, improve urinary flow and lower PSA in order to get rid of your prostate problems and restore your health.
For more information on the effectiveness of Total Health, click here.
So older men have an increased risk of developing BPH, and this causes significant urinary complications and a reduction in quality of life. The benefits of natural plant compounds in treating BPH are becoming realized because our knowledge of BPH pathogenesis is increasing. Further, many patients are exploring natural approaches, such as prostate supplements, for the management of BPH symptoms.
The advantages of these natural methods over conventional drugs and surgical approaches included improved safety, reduce side effects and improved quality of life.
Furthermore, quality scientific evidence links physical activity, low-fat diets, high-fiber diets, and fruit and vegetables to improved prostate health. These natural approaches are also essential therapies for the treatment of BPH and promoting prostate health during the surveillance period in patients with BPH.
Find out Ten Worst Foods For Prostate Health.
I take a daily regimen of D3, Flaxseed Oil, NOW’s prostrate blend, Kelp, Zinc, Astaxanthin, Magnesium, Tumeric, and assorted others, but I never know about the consistency of quality or the real certified benefit with these supplements.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this topic Ronald Robbins!
This analysis n other explanations hv been very important in managing prostate
Hi Adefemi, thank you for your feedback! It is great to hear that you are enjoying our content. The Ben’s Natural Health Team.
Where can I get these supplements to buy?
Hi there, you can purchase our supplements via https://www.bensnaturalhealth.co.uk/. Wishing you good health, The Ben’s Natural Health Team.
I noticed you have bell peppers listed as a food beneficial to BPH. Every time I eat bell peppers my urinary flow gets more restricted for a few days. Have you encountered this before?
Hi Jonathan, your reaction with bell peppers is not a general one but a personal one. You may avoid eating them to prevent urinary issues. Bell peppers are rich in Vitamin C and helps combat BPH. However, several fruits and vegetables are rich in Vitamin C so you might as well avoid bell peppers while you continue eating other health foods. The Ben’s Natural Health Team.
Interesting to see you recommend tomatoes and lycopene because in Ben’s book he questions that.
Hi Barry, whole foods that are rich in lycopene are highly nutritious and rich in other vitamins and dietary fiber. However, lycopene, while great when eaten as part of a healthy diet, should not be taken as a supplement. Lycopene is a fat-soluble nutrient and is only well absorbed by the body when you consume it along with some dietary fat lycopene. If you have any further questions, please fet in touch with our team via [email protected]. Wishing you good health, The Ben’s Natural Health Team.
I am 67 and “smack” in the middle of this and taking your stuff, have no idea if it’s helped or not?
Hi Beto, thank for getting in touch. Have you seen an improvement in your symptoms? It may be best to get in touch with our support team to disucss this in further detail. You can contact them via our toll free number 1-888-868-3554 in the US and +44 (0) 845 423 8877 in the UK. Wishing you good health, The Ben’s Natural Health Team.
Prostate BPH problems, thanks for this information.
I recently underwent a Green Light Laser procedure (18 days ago). I’m wondering if it is ok to start pelvic floor exercises and if so will I find this beneficial? Thank you.
Thanks for your comment.
Pelvic floor exercises including kegels, yoga and pilates can help to promote blood flow in the area around the prostate thereby speeding up recovery among other benefits. If you’re unsure whether you can start the exercises right away, it’s always best to consult with your doctor or surgeon.
Wishing you good health,
Ben’s Natural Health Team