No, you don’t have to read that again. This week I am talking to men out there, and the women who have close male relationships in their lives.
Although my niche is women, this is a topic close to my heart as I have had a personal experience of it. And most men will be affected by it at some point in their lives.
Prostate problems are very common, especially in men over 50. As men get older, their prostate enlarges, and it’s important to identify any worrying signs as prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst men.
In this post, I will talk about prostate enlargement, prostate cancer and prostatitis, and as always, foods that are good and foods to avoid or have in moderation.
What is the prostate and what does it do?
The prostate is a walnut sized gland that sits below a man’s bladder. The function of the prostate is to secrete seminal fluids, and to contract strongly during orgasm to cause ejaculation.
As men get older, it is common for the prostate gland to enlarge up to 2-3 times its normal size. This usually occurs in men over 50.
An enlarged prostate can put pressure on the urethra, affecting the flow of urine.
Some signs of an enlarged prostate are:
- Needing to pass urine more frequently
- Waking up regularly during the night to pass urine
- A weak urine flow
- You feel you are unable to fully empty your bladder
- You experience difficulty starting or stopping urinating
- Straining when passing urine
Prostatitis is a condition which can affect younger men aged between 30-50, and it’s when the prostate gland becomes swollen and inflamed. The most common cause is by bacteria that leak into the prostate gland from the urinary tract.
- Pain when urinating
- Pain in the genitals, lower back and pelvis
- Frequent urgency to pass urine
- Pain when ejaculating
As previously mentioned, in the UK prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. This usually affects men over 65, but it can occur in younger men. My husband was in his late 50s when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer four years ago.
If you have a family history of prostate cancer, you need to check your PSA (the blood marker for your prostate) from the age of 40. The first thing the oncologist asked my husband was if he had any sons. He told my husband that his son would have to have regular checks from the age of 40.
Symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Blood in your urine or semen
- A weak urine flow
- Frequently needing to pass urine
- Difficulty passing urine
- Straining to pass urine
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your GP. Many of the symptoms for an enlarged prostate, prostatitis and prostate cancer are similar, so if you are at all concerned, then it is always best to see a doctor to rule out anything sinister.
Foods that are good for the prostate
Keeping healthy and eating the right foods can go a long way towards reducing your chances of prostate cancer and other health conditions.
Here are some foods that are particularly good:
Lycopene found in tomatoes is very good for the prostate. The lycopene is released when the tomatoes are cooked. Tomatoes taste wonderful cooked in a little olive oil and garlic. If you make pasta sauce, then consider using fresh tomatoes rather than tinned.
Organic fruit and vegetables
Try eating local and seasonal in order to get the most nutrients. Fresh berries are good as they are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Try adding blueberries to a smoothie first thing in the morning.
The mineral zinc is abundant in the prostate, and zinc deficiency is common in men with prostate problems. Food containing zinc include pumpkin seeds, linseeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, beans, lentils, and quinoa. Again, you can add seeds to a smoothie or sprinkle over salads.
Include essential fatty acids in your diet. You can find these in all the seeds mentioned above and in nuts like walnuts, oily fish like wild salmon, sardines and mackerel.
Include more fibre in your diet. Green vegetables like broccoli, carrots and green leafy vegetables not only provide fibre, they also provide lots of other cancer-fighting vitamins and minerals. Oats and whole grains such as brown rice and wholemeal bread are also rich in fibre.
Food to watch out for and reduce
Avoid all processed foods. That means anything ready-made with more than 5 ingredients. It’s far better to prepare your meals from scratch with fresh ingredients.
Limit barbecued meats and fried foods.
Reduce animal proteins and fats. There is nothing wrong with eating meat, we just eat far too much of it. Try to eat at least 3 meat-free meals a week.
Cut down on alcohol, caffeine and sugar. I know this is difficult but try limiting your caffeine intake to one good quality coffee a day. Green tea has many health benefits and is known to help prostate health.
Stay away from high-carb, nutrient-empty foods like pastries, white bread and pasta will really help.
Take it one step at a time, try to introduce healthy options before cutting out the unhealthy ones, that way you will have more success.
More tips to help you look after your prostate
If you are deficient in zinc, you could take a zinc supplement.
Take a good quality multivitamin for your age and gender.
A good quality fish oil is good for preventing prostate enlargement.
Take 2 grams of vitamin C daily.
Go for good quality supplements from a recommended supplier, a lot of supermarkets and high street supplements are of poor quality.
Exercise and hydrate regularly! If this is new for you, then consider where you can get movement and exercise into your day.
Can you commit to 10,000 steps a day?
And don’t forget to drink 2 litres of water a day.
And finally, check your PSA levels
From 40+ have regular health checks. If your PSA levels are high it could be a sign of cancer.
My husband’s PSA levels were constantly very high. The doctors kept dismissing it and I insisted he has a biopsy to determine if he had cancer, which he did. So testing is important.