By age 80, at least 80% of men will have experience some prostate enlargement, which presents itself as a number of urinary symptoms, such as weak urine flow, hesitancy, and straining, and pain during urination, among others. Many times, mild prostate enlargement does not require medical treatment (though one should still seek out medical advice)—a simple change in diet will often help the problem.
Why does diet matter?
Obviously, the foods you eat have a direct result on your body and the prostate is no different. Prostate cells turn testosterone into a hormone called DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, which is what causes prostate enlargement, as well as baldness. Because sex hormones are largely influenced by diet, it is possible to improve your prostate health simply by adding or removing certain foods from your diet.
Your prostate wants to be a vegetarian
A major contributor to prostate problems is the meat-based diet that is standard for many Western countries, where prostate problems are most prevalent. Researchers have found that meat and dairy products stimulate hormone production; eating meat daily triples the risk of prostate enlargement, drinking milk regularly doubles it, and routinely failing to eat your daily servings of vegetables quadruples the risk.
Therefore, if you are really concerned about the health of your prostate, trade some of your daily servings of meat for some veggies and see if that improves your situation. This does not mean that you should give up meat, just that you should moderate your intake.
The two most important nutrients for your prostate health are vitamin C and zinc. Most people think of oranges when they hear the words “vitamin C” but vegetables, especially peppers, often have a higher vitamin C content; foods like bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, snap peas, kale, and tomato juice are all foods that are high in vitamin C.
If you find that you’re missing your meat, take comfort in knowing that the best sources of zinc come from meat, with oysters having the most. Other foods high in zinc include duck, lamb, lean beef, and crab.
What about herbal supplements?
Taking an herbal supplement will probably not kill you—most have either no or very mild side effects. However, be aware that research into the effects of various herbs on medical conditions is actually pretty scarce and when studies are conducted, there can be a lot of conflicting results. Also know that with most herbs, to reap any kind of benefit you need to take in large quantities of it for the supplement to be effective and companies do lie about the herbal content of their product sometimes.
Barnard, Neal D. M.D. Nutrition and Prostate Health. Available from: http://www.pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/type/nutrition-and-prostate-health.
Davis, Jeanie Lerche (2011) Enlarged Prostate: A Complex Problem. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/men/prostate-enlargement-bph/features/enlarged-prostate-bph-complex-problem.
Nelson, Jennifer K. R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. (2010) Enlarged prostate – Does diet play a role? Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/enlarged-prostate/bgp-20056146.