Many men would prefer prostate talk to be ‘off-limits’. However, as with anything, prevention is better than cure.
Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer provides a definitive guide for a healthier prostate.
WHAT IS IT?
The size of a walnut, the prostate gland lies just below the bladder at the base of the penis. Its job is to make seminal fluid, which is mixed with sperm to make semen. It is wrapped around the urethra (the tube through which urine and semen flow).
WHAT CAUSES PROSTATE PROBLEMS?
After the age of 40 the prostate gland starts to enlarge naturally in most men, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This can cause the urethra to narrow, which in turn can lead to problems with passing urine.
It is not known why this happens but it is thought to be linked with the hormonal changes that occur as men get older. The term benign is used because the cells that cause the enlargement are neither malignant nor cancerous and therefore don’t spread.
There are a number of specific nutrients, including herbs that can boost prostate health:
Hugely beneficial for prostate health, good food sources of zinc include seafood, eggs and wholegrains.
Omega-3 fatty acids
These play a major part in good hormonal health. Men should aim to eat oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, two to three times a week. Alternatively take a fish oil supplement. If you are vegetarian, flaxseed is a good option – flax also contains lignans, which are highly beneficial to both male and female hormonal health.
Whilegrain and whole wheat foods that haven’t been refined or processed are good for boosting prostate health.
Milk from plant-based sources such as soya, coconut, rice or oats is preferable to dairy produce; cow’s milk, butter and cheese, and dishes that include these may cause inflammation and are best avoided.
Herbal extracts from the berries of saw palmetto, the dwarf American palm tree, are thought to help balance male hormone production and have long-been linked with a healthy prostate.
Good fluid intake is important for keeping urine diluted and avoiding irritation or infection. Alcohol, especially beer, may upset the balance of male hormones; it is also a diuretic, which increases the amount of urine entering the bladder. This in turn can cause it to constrict making urination more difficult, and can explain why many men experience difficulties ‘having a pee’ when their prostate is enlarged.
This year’s Men’s Health Week organised by Men’s Health Forum runs from June 12th-18th. To find out more about prostate problems visit their website.