Diet and Lifestyle’s Impact on Your BPH Symptoms
May 24, 2021
A condition known as BPH, or benign prostatic hyperplasia, occurs when the prostate gland becomes enlarged. BPH affects 70% of US men in their 60s and 80% of men over 70 years of age.
What are the symptoms of BPH?
Since the prostate surrounds the urethra just below the bladder, it can cause symptoms that irritate or obstruct the bladder when enlarged. A common symptom is the frequent need to empty the bladder, sometimes as often as every one to two hours, especially at night. Other symptoms include the sensation that the bladder is not empty (even after urinating) or not being able to ‘hold it’ when the need to go arises. BPH can cause a weak stream, dribbling of urine, or the need to stop and start urinating several times. BPH can cause trouble in starting to urinate, often requiring a man to push or strain. In extreme cases, a man might not be able to urinate at all, which is an emergency that requires prompt attention.
In most men, BPH is a progressive disease. It can lead to bladder damage, infection, blood in the urine, and even kidney damage. It is important this is addressed with a urologist when symptoms arise.
What are the treatment options?
Whichever option makes the most sense for you, it is key to focus on diet and lifestyle.
What we ingest has a direct effect on the production, regulation, and secretion of our hormones. The prostate is controlled by a hormone called testosterone. In the prostate, testosterone is converted to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). High levels of DHT cause the cells in the prostate to enlarge, so it is key to implement the right diet. It is key to make sure to give your body the proper vitamins and nutrients it needs while removing foods that can increase symptoms.
Foods to focus on:
A diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and healthy unsaturated fats is key to protect the prostate. Specific foods known to benefit the prostate include:
- Salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids are key in preventing and reducing inflammation. Other cold-water fish such as sardines and trout are also rich in Omega-3.
- Tomatoes: Lycopene is an antioxidant that is shown to benefit the cells of the prostate gland, and is abundant in tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes, such as in tomato sauce or soup, helps to release the lycopene and make it more available to the body.
- Berries: Antioxidants in strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries help to remove free radicals from the body. Free radicals can lead to inflammation, making symptoms worse.
- Cruciferous veggies: Broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, contain sulforaphane, which is thought to target cancer cells and promote a healthy prostate.
- Nuts: Zinc is found in high concentrations in nuts and is shown to help balance testosterone and DHT. Besides nuts, shellfish and legumes are also high in zinc.
- Citrus: Vitamin C is shown to aid in a healthy prostate, and is found abundantly in citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits. Red bell peppers are also high in Vitamin C.
- Onions and garlic: Because they contain an anti-inflammatory compound called diallyl disulfide, onions and garlic are healthful additions to a BPH diet.
A healthy diet for an enlarged prostate is more than just eating good foods. It also means avoiding other types of foods that are not good for the prostate.
Foods to avoid:
- Red meat: Daily or frequent red meat consumption including beef, pork, lamb, and goat, as well as processed meats like bologna and sausage, is believed to triple the risk of prostate enlargement due to the heterocyclic amines and saturated fat.
- Dairy: Similarly to meat, regular consumption of dairy has been linked to an increased risk of BPH. Cutting out or reducing butter, cheese, and milk may help reduce BPH symptoms.
- Caffeine: Caffeine can act as a diuretic, which increases urination frequency and urgency. Cutting back on coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate may improve urinary symptoms of BPH.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can increase urine production, so reducing consumption can reduce symptoms.
- Sodium: A high salt intake may increase the urinary tract symptoms associated with BPH. Following a low-sodium diet by not adding salt to meals and avoiding processed or prepackaged foods may relieve some symptoms.
Managing an enlarged prostate:
Dietary changes can be quite effective in managing some of the symptoms of BPH, but other basic lifestyle changes can help as well. Some strategies that may ease BPH symptoms include:
- Manage stress: chronic stress leads to elevated cortisol, which promotes inflammation
- Quit smoking: smoking leads to higher DHT levels
- Avoid late-night fluids to reduce nighttime urination
- Do pelvic floor exercises and bladder training exercises
- Avoid antihistamines, diuretics, and decongestants if possible, as they may worsen symptoms
- Limit caffeine and alcohol as these may increase the urge to go
- Eat a large variety of deeply and brightly colored vegetables each day
- Avoid saturated fat in red meat and dairy and trans fats/hydrogenated fats in processed foods.
- Eat a few servings of fruit daily especially citrus fruits
- Enjoy moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week
- Maintain a healthy weight and waistline
For those patients who would like assistance in creating a diet and lifestyle plan to manage symptoms of BPH, please call 512.694.8888 or submit a contact form to schedule a consultation with our on-staff nutritionist.
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