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For those of you who’ve been following my series A Course in Nutrition; Learning Your ABC’s, I’m taking a very short break. I’ve had a special request to write specifically about prostate health challenges, so I’m taking a short detour to help some of the guys out there.
I will, however, get back to my series, because I really want you all the have a ‘primer’ that highlights:
- the importance of each individual vitamin
- what deficiencies in those vitamins look like
- what foods will fill your specific vitamin needs
Sadly, many men probably don’t think much about their prostate…..or they think they only need to think of it when they get old…..like over 60 years old.
So, where is your prostate…..and what does it do?
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized organ located in your pelvic bowl, if you’re a man. Its’ key role is the production of prostatic fluid that, together with sperm cells from the testicles, makes up semen. Additionally, prostatic fluid helps to wash out bacteria that can be found in the urethra. Without a healthy prostate, fertility cannot be possible. (We’ll talk more about fertility in the next blog.)
There are many environmental and dietary challenges that can impact the health of your prostate. A few of those would include:
- body care products, like soap, shampoo, deodorant and cologne
- conventionally grown produce (pesticides and herbicides)
- plastics (water bottles, food storage containers, etc)
You might wonder how soap, water bottles and a conventional apple can cause problems with your prostate and lead to fertility or cancer risks.
The answer lies with endocrine disruptors. These are chemicals that alter the function of your endocrine glands…..and endocrine glands are responsible for healthy hormone production. So, if you are exposed to endocrine disruptors, that means that your endocrine system will not be working optimally. Over time there can be a complete breakdown of proper endocrine function.
Some of the bad chemicals responsible for endocrine disruption include:
- found in soap, shampoo
- found in shaving cream and some deodorants
- found in conventional produce
- BPA (bisphenol A)
- found in plastic water bottles
Unfortunately, if these bad chemicals are in your system, you don’t normally know it, until something bad goes wrong. Exposure to these toxic chemicals doesn’t feel like anything, like a pulled muscle or headache….but….sadly, they’re still wreaking havoc.
Is Your Prostate Healthy?
Up until recently, it used to be pretty easy to determine if something was going wrong with your prostate gland.
There were 5 signs that most doctors looked for:
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty starting a urine stream
- Or low stream pressure
- Erectile dysfunction
- Painful ejaculation
- Low back/hip pain
In addition, until recently, most men with prostate problems were well over 60 years old….most often over 70 years old.
Sadly things have changed over the past few years, and sometimes there can be prostate problems with no signs at all….and this is showing up in men in their 40’s and 50’s.
As I mentioned early on, sometimes prostate problems can lead to infertility. They can also lead to a problem called benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), which is fancy talk for enlarged prostate. Though this is not life-threatening, it is quite irritating. The swelling of the prostate leads to the sensation of having to urinate frequently or struggling to start the stream. The nefarious part of prostate dysfunction is prostate cancer.
As I mentioned up above, doctors would look for 5 specific signs to see if your prostate gland had problems. Until the past few years, it was uncommon for any man over 50 to have these problems. And, if they did, the doctors would do a simple blood test called a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen). If the PSA level was elevated, some doctors would suggest a biopsy. Other doctors would suggest re-checking the PSA in 3-6 months to see if there was any change.
Unfortunately, there is a more virulent form of prostate cancer out there and it is striking younger men. This new type of cancer typically doesn’t have the typical signs that we mentioned above. If the doctor does a rectal exam, the prostate tends to feel normal. And, when a PSA is done, is might only be elevated just a little bit….not much at all.
How would you know if you’re at risk, without signs or symptoms?
- If you’re over 50, insist on getting a PSA test.
- If it’s elevated at all, even a little, insist on getting a biopsy.
- If you’re over 40, and have a mom with breast cancer, or a dad with prostate cancer, get a PSA.
- The BRCA gene, that can cause breast cancer in women, can also cause prostate cancer in men.
Prevention Is The Best Medicine aka 5 Tips for Optimal Prostate Health
As with nearly all health problems, there are action steps you can take to avoid, or minimize, your risks. And, that holds true with prostate health, too.
- Strive for your ideal weight.
- An overweight man converts more testosterone to estrogen, via an enzyme called Aromatase.
- This excess estrogen can target the prostate gland, leading to increased risk of cancer.
- Perform Aerobic exercise at least 3 times per week.
- Studies have shown that aerobic exercise has great health benefits to your prostate gland.
- Choose fish, eggs and poultry over red meat.
- This is not to say that you can’t enjoy a steak every now and then….but eat on special occasions, not regularly.
- Add foods rich in the nutrient called lycopene.
- Cooked tomato products, guava, mango, watermelon, red bell peppers.
- Lycopene is very protective to the prostate gland.
- Minimize dairy products (even if organic)
- Milk, cheese, ice cream, etc contains a hormone called IGF-1.
- Studies have shown that this hormone can accelerate prostate cancer
The high points that I want you to remember from this blog are:
- Prostate health impacts fertility….which is important if you’re in your 20’s and 30’s.
- Though prostate dysfunction can have predictable signs and symptoms, new forms of prostate cancer may not.
- There are nutritional and environmental challenges that can hurt your prostate gland.
- There are tips to avoid those challenges listed above.
- There are 5 action steps you can take, starting today, to improve the health of your prostate gland.
If you feel unsure of how to proceed to improve your overall health (prostate and rest of body), please know that there are highly skilled Nutrition Therapists who can guide you on your journey. They can shed light on the foods with the highest pesticide count. They can give you tips on how to swap out your current soaps and shampoos for healthier options. They can even create menus for you to make sure you’re eating the nutrient-rich foods that will support optimal health.
Please know, you don’t have to navigate these waters on your own. There is help, if you need it.
I’ll get you started right now, with a fun recipe loaded with great foods to support your prostate health.
Easy Breakfast Frittata (You can eat if for dinner, too 😊 )
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup milk alternative (almond, oat, hazelnut, etc)
- 6 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pinch ground cumin
- ½ cup salsa
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly oil small casserole dish.
- Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper and onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
- While pepper and onion are cooking, combine milk alternative, eggs, salt, pepper, and cumin into a medium bowl using a whisk.
- Transfer cooked vegetables to the prepared casserole dish. Pour egg mixture over the top.
- Bake in the preheated oven until eggs are set, about 30 minutes.
- Remove frittata from the oven and cut into wedges or squares. Place onto a plate and top with salsa.
This recipe contains salsa, red bell pepper and eggs…..all ingredients to keep your prostate healthy. 😊 Bon appetit.
About the author:
Dr Becky Spacke is a course instructor at Nutrition Therapy Institute. Additionally, she has a private practice focused on minimizing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease as a qualified ReCODE practitioner. You can learn more about her work at www.HealingFromAlz.com
Learn About Nutrition Therapy Institute
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