Few men dare to discuss this subject openly with their doctor. However, by having their prostate checked regularly and adopting a few dietary rules, better protection against cancer is possible.
The Prostate, an Organ Linked to Virility
For most men, “the prostate is an organ associated with the values of youth, virility, fertility, sexuality and pleasure. Talking about it to your doctor is a false admission of the end of the golden age of seduction. Men have the impression that general practitioners feel helpless and do not spontaneously broach the subject during the consultation”.
This seems to explain the passivity of the male public towards this genital gland. As a result, there is a lack of awareness of the rules that need to be put in place to protect it, and spontaneous and individual early detection develops too slowly.
What Is the Prostate Gland For?
Approximately the size of a walnut, the healthy prostate produces the fluid that makes up semen. It is located under the bladder, in front of the rectum. It is crossed by the canal of the urethra, which evacuates urine during urination and carries the semen during ejaculation. This position explains the urinary problems associated with prostate pathologies: benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostate adenoma, prostatitis and cancer. These pathologies vary in incidence according to age.
What Makes Your Prostate at Risk?
The prostate is a small, exclusively male gland. It is located under the bladder and has the particularity surrounding the urethra, a small channel that carries urine from the bladder to the tip of the penis. This localization explains why any prostate problem can lead to urinary disorders (e.g. prostatitis, benign hypertrophy or adenoma.).
What Can You Do to Take Care of Your Prostate?
1/ Use the Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Plants
Individual plants with anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce urinary symptoms related to prostate enlargement (benign hypertrophy). These include pumpkin seeds, African plum, nettle and dwarf palm. The latter also called Serenoa repens or saw palmetto, is a plant from the southern United States that has the particularity of inhibiting an enzyme, 5-Alpha reductase. This one intervenes in the degradation of the testosterone to produce dihydrotestosterone, a molecule that will contribute to the prostate’s development. Preventing this enzyme from acting leads to a reduction in urinary pain and the frequency of nocturnal urination, with the key to improving quality of life and maintaining sexual life.
2/ Focus on Antioxidants
Fill up on lycopene by eating tomatoes and other colourful fruits and vegetables, as this pigment from the carotenoid family is a powerful antioxidant that may help keep prostate size stable and slow down tumour development.
And above all, take zinc! Be aware that the prostate is the organ of the human body richest in this antioxidant trace element, and that with age, a deficiency is more and more frequent. However, sufficient intakes would prevent the prostate’s cells from proliferating and therefore, the prostate from growing (1).
Zinc deficiency has also been associated with prostate cancer. Studies have shown that zinc could limit tumour cells’ multiplication and reduce your risk of prostate cancer Gentlemen (2)! This anti-cancer effect of zinc is auspicious and is currently the subject of numerous scientific and clinical studies.
Other antioxidants may also be useful, such as coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, vitamin B6, etc.
Prevention Through the kitchen
Of course, the diet has an impact on prostate health. Therefore, it is essential to adopt a healthy and balanced diet when you want to prevent disorders that can affect it!
Make room for vegetables and fruit, rich in antioxidant minerals and vitamins, as their role on the prostate is proven.
A regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish and rapeseed or walnut oil) has a protective role against inflammation, a process involved in benign hypertrophy or prostate cancer!
On the other hand, certain foods increase the risk of developing prostate problems and should be eaten in moderation:
- Foods containing saturated fats of animal origin (dairy products, grilled red meats, deli meats) have been associated with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Simple, refined sugars, contained in industrial dishes, sweets, sodas, are also involved in inflammatory processes and should therefore be avoided!
The Importance of A Healthy General Lifestyle
The regular practice of a sport is recommended. However, beware of sports that are too intensive or place too much strain on the pelvic floor (cycling, horseback riding), as they can aggravate prostate adenoma.
Similarly, maintaining sexual activity if it is reasonable, also plays a protective role.
Tobacco and alcohol, like all pro-inflammatory substances, should be avoided. And yes, the more inflammation there is in the body, the greater the prostate’s risk.
To prevent inconveniences, such as a frequent need to urinate, linked to prostate disorders, certain habits can be adopted:
- Avoid holding yourself back for long periods when you feel the need to urinate, as the bladder would then press too much on the prostate.
- Avoid constipation; the retained stool could compress the prostate.
- Take the time to empty your bladder when you urinate.
- Adapt your water consumption to your activity: avoid drinking too much before bedtime or a long car trip.
Preventive Behaviors to Ensure Prostate Health
In general, prostate-related pathologies are well treated. Regular check-ups, along with a balanced diet, help take care of your prostate and treat related pathologies. In the case of genitourinary disturbances, it is crucial to consult a doctor.
To this end, having an intense sex life reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Men ejaculating more than five times, weekly, during their lifetime, would reduce by a third the risk of suffering from prostate cancer.
To prevent this type of cancer, men between the ages of 50 and 75 should be screened annually for the presence of PSA, a prostate-specific antigen. If there is a family history, screening is recommended from the age of 45. Through this regular check-up, the formation of cancer cells can be prevented.
In addition to screening, adopting good food hygiene also has a positive effect on the prostate’s health. To strengthen selenium reserves, nuts, chicken liver, fish, brewer’s yeast and seafood such as oysters and shrimps are recommended.
Vitamin E is found in nuts, almonds, vegetables such as spinach, asparagus or carrots, vegetable oils and egg yolk. According to several epidemiological studies, eating at least five vegetables and fruit every day is also an effective way to prevent prostate cancer.
To maintain a healthy prostate daily, frequent physical activity, such as walking, is essential. It is also necessary to limit alcohol consumption and caffeine-rich liquids. Salads, snacks and yoghurts also include squash seeds, known for their benefits on prostate hyperplasia. You should also avoid delaying urination and empty your bladder as much as possible.
Reducing your intake of spicy or salty foods, while choosing a diet rich in vitamins, fibre, and minerals also helps to take care of your prostate. And finally, water intake during the day should be between 1.5 and 2 L. On the other hand, in the evening, fluid intake should be reduced to avoid getting up at night to urinate.
Foods to Be Preferred For A Healthy Prostate
Vegetables, More Vegetables!
It’s an indisputable fact: vegetables play a significant role in cancer prevention. To reap their benefits, fill half your plate with vegetables. Vary the colours to take advantage of the different compounds they offer.
Although not all vegetables are incredibly colourful, vegetables from the cruciferous family, such as cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy and Brussels sprouts also have anti-cancer properties. Consuming them at least five times a week could reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Four Prostate-Friendly Foods
- Broccoli, and more broadly the vegetables of the cruciferous family, would help prevent the appearance of certain cancers, including prostate cancer.
- It is recommended to drink green tea daily. Its benefits are multiple. It contains catechins, an antioxidant substance that may help limit the development of tumours.
- Pomegranate. “It is less known, but pomegranate juice is a real ally for prostate health. We can drink a glass of it every day”, says Pr Zerbib. The antioxidants present in the fruit of the pomegranate tree would be responsible for these benefits.
- Curcumin. Several studies have shown that curcumin has anti-tumour effects. “A consumption once or twice a week is sufficient”, advises Pr Zerbib.
As far as alcohol is concerned, it is best to pay attention to white drinks such as white wine, champagne and beer, which promote urinary disorders and infections but have no direct effect on tumour growth.
The best prevention remains early detection of prostate cancer for men with risk factors, including family history.
Vitamin E and Selenium
Selenium, which is found in rice, wheat and Brazil nuts, is said to have a protective effect. However, its impact would be observed mainly in men who have low selenium levels in their blood.
Vitamin E, found in almonds, flaxseed, hazelnuts, safflower, corn and soybean oil, would also benefit prevention. Its role would be instrumental in smokers and those with low vitamin E levels in the blood.
Beware of Excesses!
Selenium and vitamin E consumed in excessive amounts can likely have harmful effects on health. Therefore, it is better to include foods containing selenium and vitamin E in your diet than to consume them in the form of supplements. Supplements have not been shown to help prevent prostate cancer.
Foods to Be Consumed in Moderation
A diet high in fats, especially animal fats, is believed to increase prostate cancer risk. Also, too much fat in the diet could lead to excess weight. Since excessive calorie consumption and obesity are two factors linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer, it is best to make sure your energy needs are met, but not exceeded.
Red Meat and Deli Meats
Red meats, especially grilled meats, may promote the development of certain cancers, including prostate cancer. Processed meats (ham, bacon, cold cuts and deli meats) could also play a harmful role.
At lunchtime, choose canned fish, chickpea or tofu spreads and leftover roasts instead of the traditional slices of ham, salami or baloney.
Calcium and Dairy Products
Although calcium is an essential nutrient for the development and maintenance of bone health, it appears that excessive consumption may be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer. To enjoy the benefits of calcium without risking the disadvantages, it is recommended that you do not take calcium supplements that provide more than 1000 mg of calcium.
High consumption of whole, partially skimmed or fat-free dairy products have been associated with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. This link is unclear, and further studies are still needed.
Canada’s Food Guide classifies dairy products as a protein food. Therefore, they have a place in your diet, without having to give them a disproportionate amount of importance.