Why Men need to be aware of BPH and 7 dietary factors to implement NOW
Men’s Health Week: BPH and 7 dietary factors to implement
Men’s Health Week raises awareness of the health issues that affect men and to encourage men to become more aware of health problems they could develop.
One important condition that affects one third of men over 50 is prostate enlargement – Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). This is not cancerous, but if the prostate becomes enlarged it can act like a clamp and impede the flow of urine.
Men can find they need to urinate more frequently, often getting up several times a night. There may also be hesitancy and sometimes urgency.
Ageing does not have to lead to BPH. Sex hormones play a significant part in BPH development and progression. DHT is a stronger form of testosterone which encourages growth. Oestrogen plays a role too.
Diet can help to control these hormones. Let’s look at 7 dietary factors that can influence the management of BPH…
Avoid a high fat diet
Particularly from saturated animal and dairy fats. A 2008 study of 4770 men over a 7-year period found that men who received more than 38% of their calories from fat were nearly one-third more likely to develop BPH than men who received less than 26% of their calories from fat.
Eat more vegetables
Studies have found that men who eat more vegetables are less likely to develop BPH. This is particularly the case for vegetables rich in beta-carotene (carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and winter squash; lutein (kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, parsley, peppers) and vitamin C (yellow and red peppers, parsley, tomatoes, peas, broccoli). There is a trend here! This was not the case for fruit (see blood sugar below).
Pumpkin seeds have been used in folk medicine as a treatment for urinary problems caused by an enlarged prostate, but this is now backed up by research. A 2014 one year German study found that overall, men with BPH given 12 months of treatment with pumpkin seed led to a clinically relevant reduction in BPH scores compared with placebo. Add pumpkin seeds to cereal like porridge and to salads, or just snack on them.
Include foods containing phytoestrogens every day
These really aren’t just for women! These plant compounds block more harmful natural oestrogen that can exert a negative effect in the male body that can lead to prostate growth. These are found in soy (particularly fermented like tempeh and tofu), lentils, flaxseed, pulses, celery and oats.
Zinc is increasingly lacking in the modern diet and has been found to be significantly lower in those with BPH. It plays a part in blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT. The best food sources are oysters, chicken legs, pumpkin seeds, tofu, lentils, sesame seeds and eggs.
Keep blood sugar levels stable
Excess blood glucose can raise insulin, which in turn could lead to increased levels of DHT. Switch refined starchy carbohydrates for wholegrains and keep portions sizes low; always eat protein with meals and minimise sugary fruit like grapes, bananas, tropical varieties and dried fruit. Avoid fruit juices which are very high in sugars.
Foods containing beta-sitosterol
Beta-sitosterol may reduce the inconvenience of urinary frequency. It is found in plant-based foods so eat a vegetable rich diet, soya, olives and olive oil and flaxseeds. Saw Palmetto is the most well known therapeutic agent for BPH, and it is rich in beta-sitosterols.
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