Prostatitis is the general term for inflammation of the prostate.
It is a common condition that can affect men of all ages, although it is especially prevalent in men aged 30- 50 years.
There are several different types of prostatitis, including;
- Chronic bacterial prostatitis.
- Chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS).
- Asymptomatic prostatitis.
Diagnosing the type of prostatitis you have will help to determine the cause, and therefore, the best treatment plan.
In the case of acute bacterial prostatitis caused by a bacterial infection, a course of antibiotics is usually prescribed.
Bacterial infection also causes chronic bacterial prostatitis. It’s seen in men who’ve had frequent UTIs (urinary tract infections).
However, some research has suggested that dietary changes could also be useful.
This article will take a closer look at the link between diet and prostatitis.
What is prostatitis?
As touched upon prostatitis is a condition that causes inflammation to develop in the prostate gland. In some cases, the disease can be acute and will get better in a short period.
Some men, however, may develop chronic prostatitis. This is when the inflammation persists over a longer period of time.
Among male patients who consult with a specialist, prostatitis is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases.
An estimated two million men who account for outpatient visits in the United States are diagnosed with prostatitis each year.
It is estimated that about 8.2% of all men will experience symptoms associated with prostatitis during their lifetime.
Symptoms of prostatitis
Symptoms of prostatitis will vary in their severity, depending on the type you have. Some of the most common signs and symptoms include:
- Painful urination, difficult and/or frequent urinating.
- Blood in the urine/ Cloudy urine.
- Pain in the abdomen, groin or lower back.
- Pain in the area between the scrotum and rectum (perineum).
- Pain or discomfort of the penis or testicles.
- Pelvic pain.
- Fever, chills and body aches / flu-like symptoms.
- Urethral discharge.
- Burning after ejaculation or sexual dysfunction.
- Pain during sexual intercourse.
How does diet affect prostatitis?
Diet is the cornerstone of good health, and although no single diet for prostatitis has been established, many studies have shown that certain foods and drinks can trigger symptoms.
A study published in Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice reviewed 2,385 patients (1,710 men and 675 women) with symptoms of prostatitis or the urethral syndrome.
All patients were treated with a strict diet, which eliminated caffeine, alcohol, and hot, spicy foods for 12 weeks.
Overall, the results showed an 87% success rate in men and an 89% success rate in women after 12 weeks of dietary treatment only.
Spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol were again identified as symptom aggregators in a 2013 study.
The study published in the Journal of Urology found that about half of 95 CP/CPPS patients surveyed reported that certain foods and beverages aggravated their symptoms.
These included spicy foods (such as hot peppers and chili), coffee, tea, and alcoholic beverages.
It was also determined that water, herbal teas, fiber, and stool softeners alleviated symptoms.
Experts recommend drinking plenty of fluids and eating high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
In a more recent study, the effects of both diet and lifestyle on chronic prostatitis/ pelvic pain syndrome were examined. 784 men with CP/CPPS were enrolled in this study.
The results indicated that age, night shift work, stress, smoking, alcohol consumption, low water intake, an imbalanced diet, delaying ejaculation and holding urine were identified as potential risk factors for chronic prostatitis.
Moreover, a sedentary lifestyle, caffeinated drinks, and low water intake were associated with severe pain in patients with chronic prostatitis.
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Foods to include in a prostatitis diet
A healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats is thought to benefit prostate health and may help to relieve symptoms associated with prostatitis. Some dietary changes that you can consider include:
- Cruciferous vegetables, which contain beta-carotene and can have anti-inflammatory effects, benefiting prostate health problems, including prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
- Fruits, such as berries are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and can boost immune function. However, avoid acidic citrus fruits if they exacerbate your prostatitis.
- Drinking plenty of fluids, such as 1.5 to 2 liters of water is recommended.
- Herbal teas are also a good option. Green tea, in particular, has been found in studies to improve urine flow and decrease urological inflammation.
- High-quality protein.
- As well as being beneficial for the treatment of an enlarged prostate, studies support that zinc is helpful for prostatitis. Food high in zinc include nuts, seeds, shellfish, meat, and eggs.
- Omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats found in the Mediterranean diet can help to reduce inflammation.
- Tomatoes are packed with an antioxidant known as lycopene, which may benefit prostate gland cells.
- Foods high in fiber, to avoid constipation, which can be painful if your prostate is inflamed.
Foods to avoid in a prostatitis diet
You need to figure out and avoid foods that can aggravate your symptoms. They will vary according to the individual, but some foods that have been commonly found to irritate prostatitis symptoms include:
- Spicy Foods can contain capsaicin, which can increase rectal sensitivity in men with irritable bowel syndrome.
- High sodium intake may increase the urinary tract symptoms associated with prostate disease.
- Gluten is a common food intolerance, which can cause inflammation. Therefore a gluten-free diet may help to relieve prostatitis symptoms.
Treatment for prostatitis
Prostate infections affect many men and can cause uncomfortable and even painful symptoms.
Luckily, as well as changes to diet, there are effective treatment options available.
For bacterial prostatitis, antibiotics are usually prescribed, lasting for three to four weeks. In non-bacterial chronic prostatitis, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, alpha-blockers, and alternative remedies help relieve symptoms.
Natural alternatives have also been found effective for the treatment of prostatitis, including:
- Quercetin- A double-blind study demonstrated reduced pelvic floor pain using quercetin.
- Bee pollen- Bee pollen showed both nutritional and anti-microbial benefits in men with prostate inflammation.
- Saw palmetto- Saw palmetto also has potent anti-inflammatory properties and may be useful for treating prostatitis.
- Pollen extract- In a study, patients given pollen extract reported more significant improvement in symptoms of chronic non-bacterial prostatitis.
Being active helps to maintain a healthy weight, which benefits your overall health. Aerobic exercises, in particular, have been shown to relieve prostatitis symptoms.
Italian researchers randomly assigned 231 men with prostatitis to do exercises three times a week for 18 weeks. One group participated in aerobic exercise, and the other group did non-aerobic exercise.
The researchers found that although both groups felt better, the group that had done aerobic exercise experienced significantly more significant improvements in CPPS pain levels, as well as improvements in anxiety and depression.
Pelvic floor exercises have also been shown to benefit some men with urinary symptoms.
While prostatitis is not a life-threatening condition, it can result in debilitating symptoms.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms discussed, visit your urologist. They will be able to diagnose the type of prostatitis and then decide the best course of treatment.
Alongside antibiotic treatment, natural alternatives, and lifestyle changes can help relieve symptoms. By getting your diet under control and eliminating foods that could be causing your prostatitis symptoms.