Fiona Scott Media Consultanccy

On the eve of Men's Health Week (June 13 to June 20) leading up to Father's Day on 19 June. nutritional therapist, Caroline Peyton, is sharing some tips to help with a prostate condition that affects one third of men over the age of 50.

Prostate enlargement or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is not cancerous but is a common problem for many men who feel embarrassed about it.

If the prostate becomes enlarged, it can act like a clamp and impede the flow of urine which means men can find they need to urinate more frequently - often getting up several times in the night. There may also urine leakage and urinary tract infections.

Caroline, who runs her clinics in Wiltshire, the Cotswolds and online, said: "The prostate is part of the male reproductive system and sex hormones play a significant part in BPH development and progression.

"The DHT hormone (Dihydrotestosterone) is a stronger form of testosterone, which encourages growth and oestrogen also plays a role. Diet can help to control these hormones."

Here are Caroline's seven tips around die that can help with the management of BPH:

  • Avoid a high fat diet, particularly from saturated animal and dairy fats. A 2008 study of 4,770 men over a seven-year period found that men who received more than 38 per cent of their calories from fat were nearly one-third more likely to develop BPH than men who received less than 26 per cent of their calories from fat. 
  • Eat more vegetables. Studies have found men who eat more vegetables are less likely to develop BPH. This is particularly the case for vegetables rich in beta-carotene (carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and winter squash); lutein (kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, parsley, peppers) and vitamin C (yellow and red peppers, parsley, tomatoes, peas, broccoli). There is a trend here! This was not the case for fruit (see blood sugar below).
  • Eat pumpkin seeds. Historically they have been used in folk medicine as a treatment for urinary problems caused by an enlarged prostate. This is now backed up by research. A 2014 one-year German study found that, overall, men with BPH given 12 months of treatment with pumpkin seeds led to a clinically relevant reduction in BPH scores compared with a placebo. Add pumpkin seeds to cereal like porridge and to salads or just snack on them. 
  • Include foods containing phytoestrogens every day. These really are not just for women! These plant compounds block more harmful natural oestrogen that can exert a negative effect in the male body that can lead to prostate growth. These are found in soy (particularly fermented like tempeh and tofu), lentils, flaxseed, pulses, celery and oats. 
  • Zinc is increasingly lacking in the modern diet and has been found to be significantly lower in those with BPH. It plays a part in blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT. The best food sources are oysters, chicken legs, pumpkin seeds, tofu, lentils, sesame seeds and eggs. 
  • Take care to keep blood sugar levels stable as excess blood glucose can raise insulin which, in turn, could lead to increased levels of DHT. Switch refined starchy carbohydrates for wholegrains and keep portion sizes low; always eat protein with meals and minimise sugary fruit like grapes, bananas, tropical varieties and dried fruit. Avoid fruit juices which are very high in sugars. 
  • Foods containing beta-sitosterol may reduce the inconvenience of urinary frequency. This is found in plant-based foods, so eat a vegetable-rich diet – soya, olives and olive oil and flaxseeds. Saw Palmetto is the most well-known therapeutic agent for BPH and it is rich in beta-sitosterols.
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