There is growing evidence for the use of an ‘anti-inflammatory diet’ to protect against and relieve prostate problems. Similar to the Mediterranean diet, it involves eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and healthy fats such as those found in fresh fish, nuts and avocados. There is no doubt that diet plays an important role in the maintenance of a healthy prostate. Many men find relief from an enlarged or inflamed prostate through a combination of lifestyle and dietary changes, and supplements for prostate health.
Different types of peppers have slightly different nutritional profiles. Bell peppers have the highest vitamin C content of any food and help to reduce the swelling and inflammation associated with an enlarged prostate. Vitamin C also acts as a diuretic, which some men say improves urination. Jalapeno peppers contain higher quantities of capsaicin, the ingredient that gives peppers their heat. Laboratory studies suggest that capsaicin makes “cancer cells commit suicide” – one study found that capsaicin triggered the death of 80% of cancer cells. Natural health products containing capsaicin are the most practical way to consume their benefits.
The red colour of tomatoes comes from lycopene, a powerful antioxidant carotenoid that helps to lower blood levels of antigens connected to prostate inflammation and BPH. A study at Harvard University involving 47,894 men found that eating two servings of tomato sauce each week reduced the risk of prostate cancer by 23% compared to men who rarely ate tomato based products. In a separate study, 15mg of lycopene daily was shown to slow the progression of BPH. The body has a hard time digesting lycopene from fresh tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes breaks down cell walls and makes lycopene more bioavailable. Most of the best NHP prostate products contain therapeutic amounts of Lycopene.
Garlic, onions, and leeks all contain protective substances called alliums. Garlic, in particular, has long been used medicinally to treat a wide range of conditions from high blood pressure to a weak immune system. Studies have shown that diets high in garlic can reduce the risk of BPH and relieve urinary tract infections commonly associated with an enlarged prostate. One study comparing the diets of 2820 men found that those who regularly ate garlic had a 28% lower risk of BPH compared to men who never ate garlic. A separate population-based study in China found that men who ate at least 10 grams of allium foods each day halved their risk of prostate cancer, compared to men who ate little garlic.
There is a link between higher intake of cruciferous vegetables and lower risk of prostate cancer. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale all contain a compound called sulforaphane, which appears to target and kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells undamaged. It has been referred to as the best phytochemical inducer of phase-2 enzymes, which help to fight carcinogens and may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Broccoli is the best natural source of sulforaphane and a tomato-broccoli combo has been shown to be more effective at shrinking tumours when eaten together. Specialized sulforaphane supplements are very effective.
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best dietary sources of zinc, which can be helpful as 75% of men who suffer from an enlarged prostate have low zinc levels. Men lose zinc in every seminal emission and so need greater quantities of zinc than women. Deficiency often results in an inflamed and enlarged prostate. Studies have found that men with prostatitis often have zinc levels 90% lower than those found in healthy prostates, and increasing zinc intake to 100mg daily effectively shrank a swollen prostate and improved symptoms in 70% of cases.
Fish oil such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout and herring are all rich in omega 3 fatty acids that have been shown to reduce inflammation. A recent study found that diets rich in omega 3 helped to prevent the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells, and suggested that deficiency may be a contributing factor to prostate problems. The typical western diet has an imbalance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. While pro-inflammatory omega 6’s (such as those found in vegetable oil) are essential to protect the body from infection and injury, they can also cause damage in high quantities. The more antiinflammatory omega 3’s to balance out their effects.
Saw palmetto is a palm-like shrub that originated in North America and has a long history of use in the treatment of BPH. It produces a fruit rich in fatty acids and phytosterols, which reduces the body’s conversion of testosterone and eases symptoms of an enlarged prostate, such as the urge to urinate frequently. Most people find saw palmetto supplements provide an easy and cost-effective means of consuming a consistent dose.
Green tea is rich in a family of antioxidant compounds called catechins. One study found that men with BPH who supplemented with 500mg of green tea daily for six weeks experienced improved urine flow, decreased inflammation, and improvements in quality of life. A separate study found that drinking more than five cups of green tea each day may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by decreasing levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Brew green tea leaves for at least five minutes to release their healthful compounds. Green tea extracts are commonly found in NHP prostate supplements.