It amazes me how many men I meet who don’t know much about their prostate. It seems the only men who do are those who have a problem with it.
Many people also don’t know how to spell it – many spell it “prostrate” – which is a physical position, not the gland found in men. Then let’s say you’re good at spelling and know what it does, you might not know where it is located.
Don’t be upset or embarrassed if you fall into any of these groups. You are in the minority if you know any of the information above.
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and a great time to educate ourselves on how to maintain a healthy prostate.
The prostate gland is a small walnut-shaped organ that lies just below a man's bladder. It surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body through the penis. The prostate gland produces most of the fluid in semen. There are three basic conditions that can occur with regards to prostate health: BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia), prostatitis and prostate cancer. Let’s take a quick look at each condition.
BPH is also known as an enlarged prostate. This enlargement can trigger symptoms such as:
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty getting a urine stream started
- Feeling incomplete urination
- 31-40 years about 8 percent
- 51-60 years 50 percent
- Over 80 years over 80 percent
Prostatitis is defined as an inflammation of the prostate. This inflammation is often caused by bacteria and is hardly ever considered a serious infection. Many men confuse this condition with BPH due to some overlap in the symptoms. Other symptoms of prostatitis are: fever, pelvic pain, cloudy urine and pain while urinating or ejaculating. This condition usually occurs in young to middle age men and only about 10 percent of men will experience this in their lifetime.
Prostate Cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. Currently it is estimated that one out of six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Just like BPH, the chances of developing prostate cancer increase with age. Other factors including, having a family history of prostate cancer and race play a role in your risk for developing prostate cancer, for example African-Americans are more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasians. Prostate cancer can go unnoticed because it often has no symptoms.
Where to Begin?
Dietary changes can have a huge impact on your overall prostate health. Not just for prostate cancer, but all three of these health challenges. I recommend the following:
- Decrease the consumption of red meat
- Increase the amount of fish you eat
- Eat less animal fat (buy leaner cuts if you decide to eat meat)
- Increase consumption of cruciferous veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts
- Eat more tomatoes
- Eat more fermented soy (not soy milk)
We often don’t look at herbs being “medicinal” but they have been used for centuries with excellent health benefits. In fact, about 30 percent of the medications used in modern medicine either orginated in a plant, or from a compound similar to one that originated in a plant. With regards to prostate health, there are several herbs that support prostate health and function. Of these, Stinging nettle (root), Crila and Pygeum are great.
Stinging nettle can be a nuisance for farmers but in the world of prostate health it shines. Research shows the root can be helpful at reducing prostate size which will releave many of the symtoms associated with declining prostate health.
Crila, once known as the Kings Herb, comes to us from Vietnam. It was once so rare that its use was limited to royalty. A recent study of more than 150 men showed an 89 percent improvement in prostate health resulting in fewer trips to the bathroom and fewer sleepless nights. A majority of the men experienced relief in as little as two weeks, with the best results at the 60-day mark. Plus it’s a strong antioxidant.
Pygeum comes to us from Africa and has been used for centuries for urinary problems. Studies show it works great for prostate health by helping with low urine flow.
Free radical damage is linked to most of the major health challenges we face. Free radicals come from the environment we live in (air, water, foods) and are manufactured by the body as a part of normal metabolism. Without neutralizing free radicals we increase our chances of developing a number of diseases like heart disease, cancer, and prostate health issues. Here is a list of the more popular antioxidant supplements that support prostate health:
- Green Tea
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
Finally, the best approach to having a healthy prostate is to incorporate each of these supplement categories along with lifestyle changes such as diet mentioned above. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of prostate issues, it is best to seek medical help first. Get a diagnosis and then consider the best options for your health and well-being.