September is National Prostate Health Month. Prostate cancer paints a mixed picture of both tragic loss and hope. Over 29,000 men die of prostate cancer each year, making it the second leading cause of cancer death for American men.
Here’s the hopeful part: if diagnosed early enough, the five-year survival rate is almost 100%, while the ten-year survival rate is 98%. Those are pretty good odds, but early detection and even earlier prevention are the keys to living a long and healthy life.
In its healthy state, the prostate is a walnut-sized gland in the male reproductive system that surrounds the bladder and urethra. Its primary function is to produce fluid that protects sperm, making it an essential part of fertility.
Although most men experience a slight increase in the size of their prostate as they age, it is when the prostate becomes too enlarged that it puts pressure on the urethra, causing urination and bladder problems.
Having an enlarged prostate doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop prostate cancer, however. Almost all prostate cancers develop as a result of gland cells coming under attack by toxins, free radicals, and other harmful compounds that damage the cells.
Protect Your Prostate with These 7 Nutrients
Now that you know the facts about prostate problems, what can you do to prevent your prostate health from going south? Support it with proper nutrients!
1. Vitamin C (and other antioxidants)
One of the core causes of cellular dysfunction in prostate problems is free radical damage. Free radicals are highly unstable electrons that react with important cellular components and cause damage. Antioxidants hold the power to bind with wild free radicals and prevent a chain reaction of damage from reaching the body’s precious organs and tissues. Some of the best sources of antioxidants are berries like strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries.
Citrus fruits and vegetables like red bell peppers are also amazing sources of vitamin C, which is known as one of the most effective antioxidants around. Vitamin C has also been shown to help promote urinary health, which plays an important role in keeping the prostate healthy.
2. Omega-3 Rich Foods
While men looking to protect their prostate are often discouraged from eating too much animal fat, consuming healthy fats from produce and nuts is heartily encouraged. One study looked at the diets of Inuit people to uncover why there is such a low rate of prostate cancer among their male population. The researchers determined it was the omega-3s from high fish consumption in their diets that helped keep their prostates healthy. Another study found that the ability of omega-3s to quell cellular irritation and inhibit tumor growth may help reduce prostate cancer risk.
Anchovies, herring, sardines, and freshwater trout are good sources of omega-3s with lower levels of mercury.
3. Plant Proteins
In the same way that animal fats are a no-no, but plant fats get the green light, try to swap out red meat for beans. Beans are loaded with healthy plant protein and lots of fiber to help you digest it, so it’s simple to get the roughly 38 grams of protein men need each day without overdoing it with meat.
4. Green Tea
It’s no secret that our members love green tea, and so do we. We drink it in the morning, with our lunches, and sometimes even at night (decaf of course). Isn’t it awesome when foods and drinks that taste good are actually good for you? Studies have shown that green tea can help boost prostate health by fighting free radicals and incre2asing apoptosis in cancer cells while supporting healthy ones.
Researchers believe that green tea may play a role in blocking histone deacetylases (HDAC) which are found in large amounts in cancer cells.
Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment found in red, pink, and orange produce like tomatoes, grapefruit, apricots, watermelon, carrots and papaya. Research shows that lycopene may reduce the proliferation of prostate cancer cells by inhibiting normal cell cycle progression. The Mayo Clinic cites 15 milligrams of lycopene taken daily as an effective dosage for prostate health.
Research has uncovered a correlation between people with prostate cancer or other prostate issues and lower zinc levels. In fact, one study found that in men with prostate cancer, mean tissue zinc was decreased by 83%, while men with benign prostatic hyperplasia experienced a 61% decrease in tissue stores of zinc. This mighty mineral has also been found to suppress tumor growth and make prostate cells less likely to turn malignant.
Oysters, sesame seeds, and some nuts and beans are rich in zinc. The current RDA for zinc is 11 milligrams for males 19 years old and older.
Beta-sitosterol, as its name suggests, is a plant sterol found abundantly in avocadoes, pumpkin seeds, and pecans. We didn’t really need another reason to add more avocadoes to our diets, but hey, another health benefit is always welcome!
As men age, the prostate glands are prone to excess growth that can contribute to blockages in the bladder opening. Research has shown that beta-sitosterol helps alleviate urinary symptoms tied to enlarged prostate, like restricted urinary flow. As an added benefit, beta-sitosterol is thought to support a healthy immune system!