Want a Healthy Prostate? Eat Right
Eating right can keep your heart, digestion and brain functioning properly, but did you know a healthy diet can help your prostate, too?
While there are certain factors outside of your control that affect prostate health, such as your age and family history, making healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent prostate problems.
Why Prostate Health Matters
An important part of a man’s reproductive system, the prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate produces fluid that contains enzymes, minerals and proteins that nourish and transport sperm.
Maintaining prostate health is important for men of all ages, but as you get older and risk increases for complications like incontinence, sexual dysfunction and prostate cancer, it’s even more essential.
The most common forms of prostate disease are:
● Prostatitis. Inflammation and swelling of the prostate. Symptoms include tenderness and pain during urination and/or ejaculation. May be caused by bacterial infection, stress or chronic inflammation.
● Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Enlarged prostate gland caused by an overgrowth of cells around the prostate, which is more likely in men age 50 and older.
● Prostate cancer. Cancer that occurs in tissues of the prostate gland. Prostate cancer affects about 1 in 8 men in the United States.
What To Eat for Prostate Health
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the best ways to maintain good prostate health. The prostate is a vascular gland, meaning it contains numerous blood vessels. So the same foods that protect against cardiovascular disease can help keep your prostate healthy, too.
Eat these foods beneficial for prostate health:
Cruciferous vegetables. Bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and kale are high in essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help reduce inflammation and maintain a healthy prostate. These vegetables also contain phytochemicals that are known to prevent the growth of cancer cells.
Healthy fats. Your body needs healthy fats for optimal functioning, but not all fats support good health. Heart-healthy fats such as olive oil, vegetable oil and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon offer benefits for prostate health. Reducing the amount of saturated fats you consume from animal products (e.g., dairy, red meat, butter) can reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer.
Flax and nuts. Flaxseeds are rich in lignans, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Eating antioxidant-rich flaxseeds may boost cardiovascular health, and some studies show that flaxseeds have cancer-fighting properties that may protect against prostate cancer. Nuts such as walnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds contain nutrients like vitamin E that are beneficial for heart health, inflammation reduction and cancer prevention.
Fruits. Fruits are high in antioxidants, which play an important role in protecting the body from harmful free radicals — molecules that can damage cells — and may help prevent cancer. Berries are particularly high in vitamin C, which can help reduce the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Legumes. Beans, lentils, peanuts and soybeans are full of important nutrients such as iron, fiber, folate, magnesium and potassium. They also contain phytoestrogens — plant compounds that may help prevent prostate cancer by helping regulate human sex and growth hormones. One review found that men with the highest intake of foods rich in phytoestrogens have a 20 percent reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.
Tomatoes. Tomatoes contain lycopene — an antioxidant that may protect against cell damage and prostate cancer. Lycopene is found in the skin of tomatoes and is more easily absorbed by the body when you eat cooked or pureed tomatoes. For this reason, tomato juice, tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes are the best way to ensure you consume adequate amounts of lycopene.
7 Diet Tips for Prostate Health
There are a few things to keep in mind when eating a prostate-friendly diet:
Aim to eat whole, fresh foods.
Avoid processed foods, such as frozen foods, fast food and pre-packaged foods.
Choose lean proteins, such as fish or chicken, over red meat.
Cut down on alcohol consumption.
Limit dairy intake.
Reduce intake of foods high in salt and sugar.
Use plant-based fats, such as avocado oil or olive oil, rather than animal fats when cooking.
Other Ways To Support Prostate Health
Lifestyle habits that promote prostate health include:
Exercise. Aim to get 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. If you’re new to fitness or haven’t worked out in a while, start slowly and work your way up to more intense exercises if your body allows.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for prostate disease.
Regular doctor appointments. Scheduling routine wellness exams and prostate screenings with your healthcare provider is an excellent way to detect and treat any potential prostate issues early.
Stress reduction. Chronic stress can have a major impact on prostate health. Finding ways to relieve stress can help prevent prostate problems and reduce symptoms of existing prostate disease. Breathwork, meditation, exercise and seeking emotional support from others may be effective stress-reduction techniques.
Eating a prostate-friendly diet can go a long way in keeping your prostate healthy. While some things, like genetic predisposition to prostate-related illnesses — are out of your control, making healthy lifestyle choices can lower your risk for prostate disease and improve your overall health and well-being.
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