The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system located just below the bladder that wraps around the urethra, (the canal that empties the bladder), and produces a fluid that forms part of the semen.
There are three common conditions that affect the prostate:
- Peneign Prostatic Hypertrophy(BPH)
- Prostate Cancer
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also called benign prostate hyperplasia, is a noncancerous growth of the prostate gland. It is the most common noncancerous form of cell growth in men and usually begins with microscopic nodules in younger men. BPH, however, is not currently believed to be precancerous condition, however, there is some evidence that men with fast-growing BPH may be at higher than average risk for prostate cancer. This form is also associated with obesity, heart disease, and diabetes and may be related to insulin resistance.
As BPH progresses, the enlarging prostate puts pressure on the urethra causing urinary symptoms. If you have any signs of prostate trouble you see your doctor to be screened for cancer.
What causes prostate troubles?
Men are now showing signs of prostate enlargement in their 40’s while half of all men will have signs in the 50’s with 85% having trouble by the time the reach their 80s.
The body converts testosterone into a more potent form called dihydrotestosterone or DHT through an enzyme 5-alpha reductase. As a man ages, this conversion increases creating higher levels of DHT. Higher levels of his more potent form of the hormone causes the cells of the prostate to grow to BPH as well as hair loss in men. Too much DHT is not the only cause of prostate troubles. Too much estrogen in men can have many health consequences as well.
Aromatase- This enzyme’s function is to convert testosterone into estrogen. If a man has too much of this enzyme he will convert too much testosterone into estrogen resulting in an imbalance between testosterone and estrogen.
What causes too much of aromatase in men?
- Age – as men age there is an increase in the enzyme’s activity.
- Zinc deficiency
- Too much alcohol
- Obesity – overweight men have more estrogen and more aromatase.
Health consequences of too much estrogen:
- Body fat and breast development
- Low sex drive
- Enlarging prostate
- Possible impotence
This imbalance between a man’s testosterone and estrogen is the cause of many health problems that occur as a man ages. Since health deterioration with aging is common, it can seem inevitable, but there is actually much a man can do to prevent illness and slow down the aging process. By keeping your body at a healthy weight through a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can prevent much of the problems that occur in a man’s body as he ages. There are foods that help prevent prostate issues.
Foods for Prostate Health
Lycopene: One of the best natural substances for preventing prostate cancer is the powerful antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is a natural plant pigment found in red foods; primarily tomatoes, tomato-based sauces, watermelon and pink grapefruit. Lycopene is even more potent in tomato sauce because it is more easily absorbed in the body when the tomato has been cooked. Studies have shown a cancer fighting effect at levels of 30mg per day of lycopene from consuming tomato based products.
Some common sources of lycopene are: 1. 1 cup tomato juice = 22mg 2. 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce = 20 mg 3. 1 cup tomato soup = 13 mg 4. 1/4 cup of tomator sauce = 7.3 mg 5. 1 tablespoon Ketchup = 2.9 mg
Cruciferous vegetables:Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage have a compound called indole-3-carbinol ( I3C) which help the body breakdown and eliminate excess estrogen. Studies show that men who eat at least 5 servings per week of these vegetables can lower their prostate cancer risk up to 20%. These vegetables also contain antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals which contribute to your overall health.
Zinc – supplement form should be the chelated form or zinc picolinate because as men age their bodies have a harder time absorbing zinc. – reduces the 5-alpha reductase activity. Men store more zinc in their prostate than anywhere else in the body. There is concern that the modern diet does not contain enough zinc because too much as been leached out of the soil from farming. Men may need to take a multivitamin/mineral supplement that contains zinc – up to 50 mg per day is considered safe while excessive doses are not necessary and can be harmful.
Zinc can be found in most seafood, soybeans, onions, whole grains, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkins seeds have been used medicinally by the Native Americans and recently have become popular for treating urinary and prostate problems. The seeds are a good source of zinc as well as many other healthy substances including essential fatty acids, beta-sitosterol, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper and some protein. These all contribute to a man’s overall health and to treating and preventing the growth of the prostate gland.
Oysters – high in zinc and zinc contributes to a man’s sexual potency and sex drive, which probably earned oysters their reputation for being an aphrodisiac.