If you’re looking for tips on how to improve your prostate health and protect against common prostate problems, you’ve come to the right place.
The prostate gland is prone to several problems whose symptoms affect a man’s quality of life.
When left unmanaged, prostate conditions can worsen and lead to a wide range of complications.
For that reason, a proactive attitude is vital. There’s a lot you can do to protect your prostate naturally and cut down the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostatitis, and prostate cancer.
The main objective of this post is to offer tips and shed light on things you can do to support your prostate health.
What is the prostate gland and what does it do?
The prostate is a gland, typically the size of a walnut, that is a part of the male reproductive system, which comprises the penis, seminal vesicles, prostate, and testicles.
This gland, which typically weighs about 30g (1 ounce), sits below the bladder and above the base of the penis. More precisely, it is located right in front of the rectum.
The prostate gland surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder. Since the urethra goes right through this gland, the prostate affects the urine flow.
The primary role of the prostate is to produce prostatic fluid that, together with sperm cells, makes up semen. Prostate’s muscles make sure the semen is forcefully pressed into the urethra and expelled when a man ejaculates. The gland contributes 20% to 30% of fluid to the total semen volume. The remainder comes from testicles and seminal vesicles.
Prostatic fluid is abundant in enzymes, citric acid, and zinc, all of which are necessary for the survival of sperm cells. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is one of the most important enzymes, and its role is to make semen thinner and more fluid.
The prostate also functions to close the urethra during ejaculation, and it participates in hormone metabolism. The gland contains a 5-alpha reductase enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a biologically active form of the hormone.
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Prostate problems that affect men
While the prostate gland has an important function in the male reproductive and overall health, it’s prone to several problems that impair its activity. The most common prostate problems include:
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – also known as enlarged prostate, BPH is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. In men with BPH, the prostate and the surrounding tissue expand. As the gland expands, it squeezes the urethra and causes lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) associated with prostate enlargement
- Prostatitis – inflammation of the prostate gland. There are four types of prostatitis: acute bacterial prostatitis, chronic bacterial prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome (chronic prostatitis), and asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. Common strains of bacteria cause prostatitis, which can induce uncomfortable symptoms
- Prostate cancer – occurs when cells in the prostate change DNA and start multiplying abnormally. One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in his life, according to the American Cancer Society. The exact reason DNA in prostate cells changes is unclear. Various factors contribute to prostate cancer risk including obesity and family history
Symptoms of prostate problems
Prostate problems manifest themselves through various symptoms whose intensity ranges from mild to severe. Below, you can get more details about symptoms of prostate problems.
Symptoms of BPH
Symptoms of prostate enlargement develop gradually and tend to worsen over time. In most cases, the symptoms include:
- Urinary frequency and urgency
- Nocturia (frequent urination at night)
- Inability to void the bladder completely
- Dribbling at the end of urination
- Difficulty starting urination
- Weak urine stream or it stops and starts
- Urinary tract infection
- Blood in urine
- Inability to urinate
- Pain after urinating or ejaculation
- Incontinence or leakage of urine
- Straining when urinating
Symptoms of prostate cancer
In the early stages, prostate cancer is usually asymptomatic. As the disease progresses, various symptoms may occur, such as:
- Difficulty urinating
- Blood in the urine and/or semen
- Reduced force in the urine stream or interrupted urine flow
- Trouble emptying the bladder completely
- Dysuria (pain or burning sensation when urinating)
- Painful ejaculation
- Weight loss without trying
- Persistent pain in bones, hips, back, or pelvis
- Erectile dysfunction
Symptoms of prostatitis
Symptoms of prostatitis may vary from one type of condition to another. Generally speaking, they include:
- Dribbling or hesitant urination
- Urinary urgency
- Blood in the urine
- Cloudy urine
- Painful ejaculation
- Pain and discomfort in penis or testicles
- Flu-like symptoms (in cases of acute bacterial prostatitis)
- Pain in the perineum (area between scrotum and rectum)
- Pain and discomfort in the abdomen, lower back, and/or groin
Can prostate problems be prevented?
When left unmanaged, prostate problems can significantly impact a man’s daily life. However, in a vast majority of cases, these problems can be prevented. For instance, a review from the Journal of Urology confirmed that BPH disease is both predictable and preventable.
Additionally, the Lancet Oncology published a study that showed various lifestyle modifications could prevent prostate cancer. Even though the exact cause of prostate cancer is unclear, a healthy lifestyle can significantly decrease the likelihood of developing this disease and thereby protect your prostate.
Avoiding risk factors of prostate problems such as cancer can help prevent them and help you have a healthy prostate.
How to naturally protect your prostate
As seen above, you can protect your prostate and cut down the risk of common diseases that affect this gland. A proactive attitude is necessary.
A common problem for many men is that they don’t focus on prostate health until problems occur. There’s a lot you can do to protect this walnut-shaped gland naturally.
Simple and subtle lifestyle changes and modifications can go a long way. Scroll down to see our health tips on how to naturally protect your prostate against common diseases.
How to protect your prostate against BPH
Evidence shows 50% of American men aged between 51 and 60 have enlarged prostate. Although the risk of developing BPH is higher with age, it’s not a normal part of aging. Below, you can see how to naturally protect your prostate against BPH:
1. Maintain weight in a healthy range
Excess weight increases the intra-abdominal pressure, thus worsening symptoms of an enlarged prostate such as poor urine stream, nocturia, urinary hesitancy, among others.
Additionally, overweight and obesity promote inflammation and oxidative stress, which also aggravate symptoms of BPH. Being overweight puts a man at an increased risk of BPH, or it worsens the symptoms of this disease by changing the androgens to estrogens ratio.
Since excess weight is a major risk factor for BPH and it worsens disease in men who have it, it’s crucial to maintain weight in a healthy range.
Overweight or obese men should employ weight-loss strategies to slim down. A well-structured plan consisting of a healthy diet and exercise can help you lose weight and protect your prostate against BPH.
2. Increase physical activity levels
People with lower levels of sedentary time are at a lower risk of developing BPH than their counterparts who are more sedentary. First of all, a sedentary lifestyle leads to overweight or obesity. As seen above, excess weight and BPH are strongly connected.
Also, sitting for long periods puts pressure on the prostate and may inflame it eventually. To protect your prostate against BPH, make sure to increase physical activity levels and focus on regular exercise.
Avoid activities that require a lot of sitting, such as bicycling. Go for activities and exercises that make you move more.
Increased physical activity can help you maintain weight in a healthy range also supports prostate health. That way, you can reduce the risk of developing BPH.
3. Avoid or reduce alcohol intake
Men with BPH or those who want to reduce the risk of developing this problem should avoid drinking alcohol or decrease consumption.
Alcohol can hinder the ability of a prostate muscle to relax and thereby irritates the bladder. As a result, symptoms of BPH worsen.
High alcohol intake may also lead to obstruction of the urinary tract and trigger complete blockage. Since alcohol is bad news for general health and causes prostate problems, it’s a wise choice to avoid it. If you wish to drink alcohol, keep the intake at a minimum.
4. Modify your diet
The food you eat has a major impact on prostate health. To manage BPH or prevent it, you may want to modify your diet. To protect your prostate against BPH, you may want to avoid or reduce consumption of red meat, dairy, and sodium. Foods to eat to protect your prostate against BPH include:
- Berries – abundant in antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, that would otherwise cause damage and disease.
- Salmon – contains Omega-3 fatty acids that prevent and decrease inflammation in the body.
- Citrus fruits – high in vitamin C that exhibits protective effects on the prostate gland
- Nuts – abundant in zinc, nuts are vital for prostate health and necessary for the production of semen and testosterone.
- Cruciferous vegetables – contain sulforaphane which promotes prostate health.
5. Try supplements
Besides a healthy diet, you may also want to try dietary supplements that contain vitamins, minerals, and extracts from plants that promote prostate health.
Look for supplements that deliver vitamins and minerals such as zinc, beta-sitosterol, pygeum, saw palmetto, and rye pollen extract. Stinging nettle, pumpkin seeds, and red clover are also found in many dietary supplements for prostate health.
How to protect your prostate against prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States and worldwide. Although symptoms of prostate cancer can be severe, this disease is often preventable.
Below, you can take a look at things you can do to protect your prostate gland against cancer:
1. Lose weight
A growing body of evidence confirms excess weight is associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer, especially aggressive prostate cancer. Overweight and obesity are linked to prostate cancer through several mechanisms.
They are associated with lower levels of physical activity and higher concentrations of insulin and insulin-like growth factor, which inhibit apoptosis and promote carcinogenesis.
To decrease the risk of prostate cancer, you need to focus on maintaining a healthy weight. Overweight or obese men may need to slim down, whereas those with a healthy weight need to maintain it in the normal range.
2. Exercise more
Men who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. Vigorous physical activity has the best effect, which is why you may want to do cardio training. Find an activity you like and strive to practice it regularly. Exercise can also help you lose weight.
3. Eat more fish
Fatty fish is abundant in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with a lower incidence of prostate cancer and better survival among men who have the disease.
The exact mechanism through which Omega-3s are linked to prostate cancer prevention is unclear, but it could be due to anti-inflammatory effects. Enrich your diet with salmon, mackerel, and other fatty fish.
4. Quit smoking
Smoking is a significant risk factor for prostate cancer. Not only does it increase the likelihood of this disease, but it’s also associated with more severe outcomes.
It’s unclear how smoking contributes to prostate cancer; various mechanisms could be involved. Smokers inhale cancerous pollutants, which are then excreted in urine to some extent.
But, to be expelled in urine, these compounds need to flow through the prostate first because this gland surrounds the urethra. Also, smoking boosts inflammation. To protect your prostate from cancer, you may want to consider quitting smoking. While it seems difficult, this is an achievable mission.
RELATED: How To Quit Smoking: Top Tips.
5. Add citrus to your diet
Fresh fruits are essential aspects of diet to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, especially citrus fruits. These fruits reduce the risk of cancer, but more research is necessary to uncover underlying mechanisms. High levels of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant, could be involved.
6. Eat red fruits and vegetables
They contain high levels of the antioxidant lycopene, which reduces the growth and progression of prostate cancer cells. The redder the fruit or vegetable, the more lycopene it contains.
7. Reduce fat intake
Saturated fats and animal fat are linked to prostate cancer. That’s why you may want to decrease fat consumption and make sure you don’t overcook the meat when you decide to eat it. Ideally, you should focus on healthy fats and reduce your meat consumption.
8. Drink coffee and green tea
Keep in mind that coffee can worsen some prostate conditions, so the best thing to do is keep your consumption moderate.
9. Reduce exposure to estrogenic compounds
BPA in plastic bottles is a good example of an estrogenic compound that may affect hormonal balance and increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Avoid plastic bottles, exposure to heavy metals, and the use of products with harsh chemicals to protect yourself and your prostate.
10. Use supplements
Some supplements can support prostate health and thereby reduce prostate cancer risk. The best supplements to protect against prostate cancer include lycopene, sulforaphane, pomegranate, vitamin D, vitamin E, among others.
How to protect your prostate against prostatitis
The reality is that patients often receive invasive diagnoses and undergo uncomfortable diagnostic tests they don’t really need.
Prostatitis is a good example of that problem. A healthy lifestyle has a far better impact on prostate health than invasive procedures that mask the symptoms rather than protect the prostate and improve its health and function.
To protect your prostate against prostatitis, you should:
1. Have good hygiene
Many cases of prostatitis are caused by common strains of bacteria. To reduce the risk of infection, it’s crucial to keep the genital area clean. That’s why you need to practice good hygiene and wash your genital area regularly.
2. Avoid sitting for long periods
Too much sitting can put pressure on the prostate gland and cause inflammation. Be more active and try to stand up frequently.
If you have a desk job, ideally you should set up a reminder to get up and move around every 30 minutes.
3. Stay hydrated
Bacteria that reach the urinary tract can cause infection. If you don’t drink plenty of fluids, these bacteria start multiplying and causing uncomfortable symptoms.
That’s why you need to stay hydrated throughout the day. The best option is water. It will help flush bacteria from the bladder and support general health and wellbeing.
Drinking a lot of water is also good for weight loss, which is also necessary for protection against prostatitis.
Engaging in a few hours of exercise a week can reduce the risk of chronic prostatitis, but make sure to avoid activities that require sitting for long periods.
5. Reduce consumption of spicy foods
In many cases, spicy foods can worsen symptoms of prostatitis. That’s why you may want to eat your food on the milder side.
If you love spicy foods, make sure not to overdo it and try to limit their consumption to once or twice a week.
6. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
Alcohol is bad news for your prostate, whereas caffeine can help reduce prostate cancer risk. At the same time, caffeine could contribute to prostatitis by irritating the bladder and urinary tract. The most important thing here is to reduce the consumption of these beverages.
7. Eat more fruits and vegetables
They are abundant in nutrients that fight inflammation and help your body, including the prostate. Healthy eating supports prostate health and makes it less likely to deal with uncomfortable problems.
8. Practice safe sex
Sexually transmitted infections can contribute to prostatitis. For that reason, you need to practice safe sex to prevent bacteria from getting into the urethra.
9. Manage stress
Unmanaged stress makes you more likely to deal with prostatitis. Stress isn’t something you should ignore.
Prostate conditions are common, but there’s a lot you can do to protect this gland naturally.
A healthy lifestyle is crucial because it tackles the main causes of prostate problems. If the uncomfortable symptoms persist, make sure to consult your health care provider. But keep in mind doctor-recommended treatments are not a replacement for healthy lifestyle measures.