How do I know if my (or my loved one’s) prostate is healthy?
If your urination is business as usual and you are not having any pain or discomfort in the pelvic region, chances are your prostate is doing alright. Because of its position in the pelvis (below the bladder and surrounding the urethra), if the prostate becomes enlarged, you may start to notice trouble urinating, urinating more frequently or throughout the night, or feeling like you are not quite emptying your bladder. If you do experience any of these symptoms, it is time to check in with a doctor.
While an enlarged prostate can be quite common and often benign, especially in older males, these symptoms could also be warning signs of something more serious happening. Plus, even if it is benign, checking in with a naturopathic doctor may give you some great ideas on how to manage those uncomfortable symptoms while, at the same time, improving your overall health.
What are some things I (or my brother, father, dad, uncle, etc.) can do to keep the prostate healthy?
Lots of Veggies
This one is a given. At this point, I think we all know vegetables are good for us. If you are not convinced, come in to chat, we can peruse the research/complete our own mini experiment together.
I generally recommend getting as many different vegetables in your diet as you can. Get colourful and creative. Try buying a new vegetable every week. Remember, if you are not peeling your vegetables, try to stick to organic so you are not consuming unwanted pesticides.
Are there vegetables that have been found to be specifically helpful for the prostate?
Yes! Many fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds can be beneficial. Two of my favourite, relatively well studied examples are: tomatoes and pumpkin seeds.
Consumption of tomatoes and tomato products (sauces, paste, etc.) has been repeatedly associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer (2,3). The antioxidant, lycopene, that is found in high amounts in tomatoes is often thought to be responsible for the tomato’s effect on the prostate but it may also be that other nutrients found in the tomato work together with lycopene to benefit the prostate (4).
Pumpkin seeds have shown to be especially helpful for reducing those symptoms of an enlarged prostate that we talked about, such as changes in urination (5,6). It appears that they are most effective when consumed daily as a seed or oil (5).
Rule out food sensitivities
Also pay attention to any food sensitivities you may have. There may be foods in your diet that lead to inflammation for you that may not be a problem for someone else. This one is very individual and since chronic inflammation can lead to all sorts of health issues down the line, prostate or otherwise, it may be worth working with a naturopathic doctor to find out which foods don’t make you feel great and take a break from them for a while.
This is probably one of the most important things you can do for your prostate and health in general. In our modern, fast-paced, busy lives, stress seems to be a constant companion.
Often when I point this out, I immediately see worried, guilty looks followed by questions along the lines of “How do I get rid of stress?” This is where I like to point out that there is no shame in being stressed. Life is stressful. Stress is inevitable. However, learning to manage stress and prioritize what is important to you in life can be your superpower.
Okay this is one you definitely should not do on your own but you can book an appointment to experience acupuncture.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles at specific points on the body in order to stimulate the body’s natural healing ability. The points that are chosen take each individual person as a whole into account. Overall, acupuncture seems to help reduce stress and induce a calm state of rest which allows the body to heal and symptoms to improve. Some of my patients even fall asleep during treatment! Acupuncture has been studied in the treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia (fancy term for enlarged prostate) and has shown to significantly improve symptoms such as difficulty urinating or frequent urination (7).
This is another one that requires some expertise and I generally only bust out the botanical medicine when the prostate needs some extra help staying healthy. That being said, there are many botanicals out there that can help with prostate health. Some examples of botanicals I have used in practice that also have a fair bit of research to back them up are: Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens), Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), and Pygeum (Prunus africana).
Keep in mind that these herbs can be prepared in many different ways and used in various combinations. I find there is never really an effective one size fits all. The best herbs, combination, and preparation depends on the unique human that is planning on using the botanical medicine.
Another great way to improve overall health and reduce the risk of many chronic health issues including an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer (8). Did you know that there are even specific pelvic floor exercises that can help manage urinary symptoms that may be associated with an enlarged prostate? If you have heard of Kegel exercises, know that they can benefit both men and women!
This is also where it may be helpful to consult a physiotherapist or osteopath not only for ideas about helpful exercises but also to assess the alignment and health of other pelvic structures. Better alignment may mean less pressure on the bladder and urethra, which can lead to less painful, uncomfortable, or irritating symptoms.
Get out in Nature!
Being out in nature helps us reconnect with the present moment, breathe fresh clean air, get new perspective, and exercise all while lowering inflammation and improving overall sense of well-being.
Did I miss anything? What do you do to keep your prostate healthy?
If you’d like to chat prostate health, come in and pay us a visit, we’d love to meet you!
Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Liu Y, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. A prospective study of tomato products, lycopene, and prostate cancer risk. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002 Mar;94(5):391–8.
Graff RE, Pettersson A, Lis RT, Ahearn TU, Markt SC, Wilson KM, et al. Dietary lycopene intake and risk of prostate cancer defined by ERG protein expression. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;103(3):851–60.
Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis M, Bowen PE. Role of lycopene and tomato products in prostate health. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 May;1740(2):202–5.
Vahlensieck W, Theurer C, Pfitzer E, Patz B, Banik N, Engelmann U. Effects of pumpkin seed in men with lower urinary tract symptoms due to benign prostatic hyperplasia in the one-year, randomized, placebo-controlled GRANU study. Urol Int. 2015;94(3):286–95.
Shirvan MK, Mahboob MRD, Masuminia M, Mohammadi S. Pumpkin seed oil (prostafit) or prazosin? Which one is better in the treatment of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Pak Med Assoc. 2014 Jun;64(6):683–5.
Zhang, Wei et al. “Acupuncture for benign prostatic hyperplasia: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” PloS one 12,4 e0174586. 4 Apr. 2017, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0174586
Maso LD, Zucchetto A, Tavani A, Montella M, Ramazzotti V, Polesel J, et al. SHORT REPORT Lifetime occupational and recreational physical activity and risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia. 2006;2635(December 2005):2632–5.
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