General wisdom says when you get older, your nose and ears get larger.
However, there’s another body part that enlarges with age in men – and the health consequences are not so benign. That’s the prostate gland.
A walnut-sized gland tucked beneath the bladder, the prostate gland surrounds the urethra – the tube through which urine and semen pass through. When the prostate gland enlarges, it compresses on the urethra and causes difficulty and pain during urination.
An enlarged prostate may even lead to prostate cancer, which affects thousands of men annually.
But there are ways – natural ways even – to keep your prostate healthy.
Go See Your Doctor
You know the adage “a stitch in time saves nine,” but did you know it applies to maintaining prostate health?
By seeing your doctor now, you’ll undergo various tests and screenings to determine if you’re at risk for prostate cancer or other conditions.
Rehabilitation consultant Merendi Leverett likened these medical check-ups to a Ferrari having its oil changed and tire pressure checked. She suggests having blood and homocysteine levels tested, as high homocysteine levels are a strong predictor of disease or cancer.
“It’s quick to get it tested and relatively easy to ‘fix’ or bring down once you know,”atching prostate problems early, when there is a bette Leverett explained.
Experts at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center concur, adding that doctors can provide individualized instruction for prostate health.
“Catching prostate problems early, when there is a better chance of successful treatment, is ideal. Be sure to have prostate screening examinations annually at the appropriate ages,” the Center counseled.
Get Proper Nutrition
According to Leverett, high homocysteine levels are usually caused by nutrient deficiencies, specifically zinc, B vitamins, and tri-methyl-glycine. These nutrients are found in abundance in green, leafy vegetables, broccoli, and whole grains. A deficiency adversely affects the whole body, including the prostate.
One nutrient especially beneficial to prostate health is lycopene, a carotene in red fruits like tomatoes and watermelon. In a 2003 Harvard study involving 47,000 men, subjects who ate 10 servings of tomatoes weekly had a 50% less prostate cancer risk. The scientists reasoned lycopene was the cause of this benefit.
Dr. Michael Roizen of Share Care confirmed the benefits of tomatoes and broccoli, saying they have “cancer-fighting properties” and are more effective together. He also recommends avocados, as the fruit’s healthy fat decreases difficult or painful urination – symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms.
In general, focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as opposed to processed foods. They contain more nutrients.
Have Sex More Often
Previously, studies suggested high sexual activity increased prostate cancer risk. Now, however, research demonstrates the opposite effect. A large study involving nearly 30,000 men found those reporting frequent ejaculations (21+/month) had a lower risk of prostate cancer than those reporting fewer ejaculations (4-7/month).
Some researchers suspected men reporting more ejaculations were active and healthier. However, the results held true when diet and exercise habits were controlled.
Dr. Michael Leitzmann, a researcher on the study, suggested ejaculation flushes out cancer-causing substances, induces rapid turnover of fluids, and releases tension, stemming cancer cell growth in the prostate.
Experts at ProstateGuideHealth.com confirmed the advantages of ejaculation, calling it “the best way to empty the prostate” of cancer-causing substances.
An enlarged prostate is simply part of the aging process, but it doesn’t have to control you. By having necessary screenings and tests from a doctor, you can identify problems early on. A nutritious diet fights cancer-inducing substances. And, having sex more often (or at least ejaculating) flushes cancerous cells from the prostate gland.
Adhering to these simple practices ensures the health of your prostate gland and reduces pain associated with an enlarged prostate.