By the age of 70, seven out of 10 Canadian men develop a noncancerous condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or, less glamorously, enlargement of the prostate.
Two hormones, testosterone and dihydrotesterone (DHT), play a role in enlargement of the prostate over time. Testosterone is converted to DHT by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme decreases testosterone levels while increasing DHT levels, thereby encouraging growth of the prostate gland.
Luckily, there are some simple lifestyle changes men can make to keep their prostates healthy.
Studies have shown that these dietary modifications are also helpful in relieving the symptoms of BPH.
Reduce the intake of:
- Trans and saturated fats
- Alcohol and coffee
- Fluids after dinner
Increase the consumption of:
- Omega-3 fatty acids found predominately in fish and flaxseed
- Fruits and vegetables to 5 to 10 servings a day
- Soy products
- Green tea
- Tomato sauce
Saw palmetto: The berries of the saw palmetto, a dwarf palm tree, are made into a supplement taken in pill form. It has demonstrated positive results in reducing lower urinary tract symptoms in men with BPH with very few or no side effects. It is postulated that saw palmetto works by decreasing the activity of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme and thereby lowering the quantity of active DHT in the prostate gland.
Selenium and vitamin E: Studies have been conducted regarding the effects of selenium and vitamin E on prostate health. A 2008 study reported in The Prostate found that the combination of selenium and vitamin E may be more effective than taking either supplement by itself.
Kegel exercises can help prevent urine leakage. It is recommended to perform these exercises while urinating to isolate and strengthen the pelvic muscle. Contract the muscle until the flow of urine decreases or stops, hold for 10 seconds, then release the muscle. Repeat five to 15 contractions, three to five times a day.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also important for prostate and overall health. Strive for 30 minutes of physical activity per day to start. By changing your diet, taking supplements, and exercising regularly, these lifestyle changes can help reduce and relieve the symptoms of BPH.
Symptoms of BPH include:
- Increased frequency of urination, especially at night
- Difficulty starting and stopping the stream of urine flow
- Painful urination
- Blood in urine
- Inability to completely empty the bladder