Prostate health: best supplements, foods and natural remedies
You likely don't give much thought to your prostate — until it starts to cause concern. If you’re a man advancing in age, you might notice common signs of an enlarged prostate gland. These include changes to your flow of urine, waking in the night to urinate, or frequent urination. You may feel like you can’t empty your bladder fully, that urination is not complete, or that the stream stops and starts. An enlarged prostate may also affect sexual activity.
Prostate issues range from minor inconveniences to serious life-threatening illnesses. Taking care of your prostate gland should be an integral part of your overall wellness program throughout life. Exercising, eating well, taking certain herbs and supplements, and making simple improvements to your daily life will help.
What Is the Prostate & What Does It Do?
Part of the male reproductive system, the walnut-sized prostate serves important functions related to fertility and urine flow.
The most common complaints, which may indicate less than optimal prostate function, include inflammation, an enlarged gland, and in some cases, cancer.
Enlarged Prostate & BPH
The prostate gland naturally grows larger with age, making prostate issues more common in older men.
If your prostate becomes enlarged, it can pinch the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. When this occurs, it can impede your ability to empty your bladder completely. Called benign prostate hyperplasia or BPH for short, about 14 million men experience this condition.[3, 4] For the most part, it’s, as it says, benign. In other words, there’s no harm to your health other than the mild annoyances that come with it.
Natural Ways to Support Prostate Health
Preventing issues before they start is always the best way to maintain good prostate health. The steps you take throughout life can have a dramatic impact on the health of your prostate.
Consume the Right Foods for Prostate Health
In addition to maintaining a healthy body weight and following a healthy lifestyle, consuming a diet that's rich in a variety of nutrients is one of the most effective ways to encourage prostate health.
Fresh fruits and vegetables offer numerous benefits, with many having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Did you know that men who consume more fruits and vegetables have fewer prostate symptoms? Leafy green vegetables and tomatoes are particularly helpful.
People who drink high amounts of green tea have lower rates of prostate issues. Selenium in the diet supports the health of your prostate gland, as well. Selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, lentils, and mushrooms. Eating curries rich in turmeric can’t hurt either!
Take Herbs & Supplements
Below are the best supplements science has found for a healthy prostate.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a perennial flowering plant that gives a painful sting if you touch it. But when used as a natural therapy, it reduces swelling and redness in the body, including the prostate. It may even promote a more normal-sized prostate gland.
Nettle contains several helpful compounds, including alkaloids, chlorogenic acid, phytosterols, and terpenes. These phytochemicals appear to work together to inhibit 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to an androgenic hormone called DHT. DHT is linked to prostate enlargement. By reducing DHT levels, this likely keeps the prostate at a more normal size.
People have used saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) since ancient times. American Indians used it for urogenital disorders. It is still one of the most popular herbs for prostate health sold today. Today, you can buy saw palmetto extract made from its berries, or capsules. This herbal supplement appears to have anti-androgenic effects, which means it promotes a normal-sized prostate gland.
When combined with pumpkin seed oil, saw palmetto is even more effective. Men over 50 who took this combination over 12 months ended up with a more normal prostate gland. The herbs are not only effective but clinically safe and without side effects.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has potent antioxidant effects. But it also promotes a normal response to inflammation, or redness and swelling, as well as abnormal cell proliferation.[14, 15] These benefits can help your prostate in more ways than one!
A flowering herb, red clover (Trifolium pratense) has become more popular as a dietary supplement for the prostate. The flowers are dried and used in teas, or you can buy it in capsule or herbal extract form, often combined with other herbs.
Red clover contains isoflavonoids and phytoestrogens that may promote normal prostate specific antigens (PSA) levels. Red clover also supports a normal-sized prostate gland and also has antiproliferative effects.[16, 17] Take it long-term to see its benefits most powerfully.
African Cherry Tree Bark
The bark of the African cherry (Prunus africana) can help a range of conditions involving redness and swelling in the body, including the prostate. Sometimes called Pygeum, this supplement helps reduce unhealthy prostate cells.
African cherry tree bark helps the body remove unwanted cells while promoting healthy ones. Be careful when selecting a company to buy your products from, because some companies use harsh collection methods that cause environmental damage. Choose organic.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with prostate cancer. Specifically, people living in northern latitudes where winter sun is limited have increased rates of prostate cancer. Less sunlight means your body produces less vitamin D, which can lead to deficiencies in some people.
Unwanted cells respond to vitamin D by reducing their proliferation and invasiveness, among other things. Vitamin D can even keep potentially invasive prostate cells healthy! Experts recommend that every man should get enough vitamin D for prostate health.[19, 20]
Selenium plays a protective role in prostate health. Even small amounts of selenium offer significant prostate benefits. Specifically, this mineral prevents the formation and proliferation of harmful prostate cells.
Selenium also plays a role in brain and thyroid health, as well as reproductive health, including male fertility. People living in areas with selenium-deficient soil are more at risk. Unfortunately, most people don’t know the selenium status of their soil. Make sure you get enough of this essential mineral in your daily diet or take a selenium supplement.
Be Proactive in Your Health
You can take proactive steps to improve your prostate health and avoid issues in the future. Here are a few simple suggestions.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all adults complete 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. No matter what your lifestyle is like, aim to move more. If you can’t get to a gym, go for a walk outdoors. Gradually work your way up to running a little, and then more. Do a few situps and pushups at home, or find some way to get more movement into your life.
Not only does exercise lower your risk factor for prostate cancer, but it also helps your health in myriad other ways. If you're not getting enough exercise, get active today!
Smoking has catastrophic health effects on almost every part of your body, including the prostate gland.
As a carcinogen, cigarette smoke is responsible for an increased risk of prostate cancer and less favorable survival rates among smokers compared to non-smokers.
There are simple steps you can take to stop — but we know this is a journey that takes determination and a solid plan. For more advice, check out our article, 6 Easy & Natural Ways to Quit Smoking.
Shift Unhealthy Eating Patterns
Maintaining a healthy diet with a varied source of nutrients supports your overall health. This helps prevent prostate issues from developing in the first place.
Opt for a Plant-Rich Diet
Avoid Meat & Dairy
Diets high in meat and dairy products can increase the risk of prostate enlargement because they are high in testosterone. Reduce red meats, cheese, milk, and butter in your diet for better prostate health.
Avoid Excess Vitamin E
Although vitamin E was once thought to help with the prostate, excess intake has recently been highlighted as a potential cause of prostate conditions. Meet your recommended daily requirement, but additional E may be detrimental to prostate health.
It appears that caffeine may irritate the prostate, so cut back on high-caffeine drinks like coffee, soda, and energy drinks — which you should avoid anyway. Small amounts of green tea are acceptable since it has an overall positive effect on prostate health despite the caffeine.
Try a Short-Term Fast
Fasting can be a great way to kick-start a healthy lifestyle, eliminating bad foods, and starting over with a clean slate. For recommendations, check out our fasting diet article.
Points to Remember
The prostate gland serves several important functions related to healthy reproduction and sexual function. As men advance in age, the prostate typically enlarges and can affect urinary health, lead to inflamed tissue, including prostatitis, and in rare cases, prostate cancer.
If you exercise and eat a balanced, plant-based diet that's high in fresh fruits and vegetables, you will lower your risk of prostate concerns later in life. Reduce, or better yet, avoid animal products. Keep your stress levels low and managed, and by all means, if you smoke, quit.
Certain herbs and supplements may also help. The best supplements for prostate health include stinging nettle, saw palmetto, selenium, turmeric, red clover, African cherry tree bark (Pygeum), and vitamin D. A supplement that combines the most potent and powerful prostate herbs like Prostrex™ is also an excellent option.
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