Is your prostate healthy?

Posted on: 07 March 2014 by 50connect editorial

Prostate problems mainly affect men once they reach 50. Are you at risk?

prostate cancer health check

It is said that men take better care of their cars than their health! But as prostate problems affect well over 50% of those over 40, there are a few things that every man should know...   

After the age of 50, the number of cells in the prostate gland tend to increase and the gland can start to enlarge. One of the most common problems with the prostate that men can experience as they age is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). “The condition of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is not life-threatening, but can be troublesome as the prostate gland becomes enlarged,” explains GP and medical nutritionist Dr Sarah Brewer.

Who is at risk?

Prostate problems mainly affect men once they reach 50. There is also a strong genetic link, so if your father or brother has experienced symptoms, your risk is experiencing them too is increased. Your ethnicity may also play a role too, as prostate troubles are more common in black Caribbean and black African men than in white or Asian men. Overall, studies have shown that there is a higher incidence of prostate problems in Western society and this evidence implies that diet and/or lifestyle are an important risk factor.

What are the symptoms?

“If the prostate enlarges, this can cause an obstruction of the urethra, leading to urinary problems.” explains Dr Brewer. “Typical symptoms include urinary hesitancy, frequency, urgency and poor flow. So if you are needing to pass water frequently (particularly at night) and not being able to empty the bladder completely, you need to make an appointment to see you GP. In most cases these symptoms are due to a benign enlargement of the prostate gland.”

How can men help themselves?

From a diet and lifestyle perspective, you can take steps to prevent problems by ensuring that you maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and eat a nutritious diet. “Although there appears to be little that food can do to slow down the growth of enlarged prostate, research suggests that beta-sitosterol (from a group of compounds known as phytosterols) found in foods such as flaxseed, peanuts, olive oil, avocado and almonds may help to relieve the urinary symptoms of BPH,” says Robert Hobson, Head of Nutrition for Healthspan. “It’s also good for men to make sure they are getting plenty of zinc in the diet, found in foods such as shellfish, oats, brown rice, eggs, nuts and seeds which is beneficial for men’s health as a whole including the overall functioning of the prostate.”

Will supplements help?

By far the most popular supplement to use for prostate health is the traditional herbal remedy saw palmetto. The fruit contains a rich mixture of phytosterols that block the action of an enzyme found in the prostate gland, which converts the male hormone, testosterone, to another powerful hormone (dihydrotestosterone), which stimulate prostate growth. Researchers also believe saw palmetto relaxes the gland, which in turn reduces spasm. As a result of these actions, saw palmetto extract may improve lower urinary tract symptoms in men.

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