The prostate is a walnut-sized gland which forms part of the male reproductive system. It is located in front of the rectum and just below the bladder, and surrounds the urethra, thus affecting the normal flow of urine. Scientists are still researching the prostate's complete function, however it is known that its main role is to squeeze fluid into the urethra as sperm move through it during sexual climax. This prostatic fluid, which forms part of the semen, provides energy for the sperm and reduces the acidity of the vaginal canal. The prostate is controlled by hormones. These hormones affect its growth, the way it works and ongoing health - they are important in maintaining a system of balance in the prostate.
Causes & symptoms
When the enlarging prostate gland narrows the urethra, a man will have increasing trouble starting the urine stream. Because some urine remains behind in the bladder, he will have to urinate more often, perhaps two or three times at night (nocturia). The need to urinate can become very urgent and, in time, urine may dribble out to stain a man's clothing--to his embarrassment. Other symptoms of BPH are a weak and sometimes a split stream, and general aching or pain in the perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus). Some men may have considerable enlargement of the prostate before even mild symptoms develop.
Diet Makes a Difference
Making a commitment to gradually include more vegetables is the first step. Colorful vegetables such as spinach, beets, winter squash, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and dark green lettuces contain carotenoids, which have a preferred lower glycemic index, are loaded with fiber and have cancer-fighting properties.
These powerfully pigmented vegetables also act as antioxidants, protecting healthy cells from chemotherapy and radiation. Carotenoids are fat soluble, so more will be absorbed when eaten with a meal or snack containing some healthy fat. Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower are known for their cancer-fighting phytochemicals. This group of plant food also helps detoxify the body.
Onions and garlic are powerhouses that contain substances like quercetin, allicin, S-allyl cysteine and selenium. These are important for targeting prostate cancer cells and helping with detoxification.
Caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods and/or acidic foods may irritate the prostate, and most doctors recommend either eliminating them or consuming very little of them. Diets with an emphasis on soy are helpful as this helps eliminate DHT. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds may also be helpful. Cut back on beer, as this stimulates hormones that may contribute to prostate growth.
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For Better Prostate Health
Herbal Alternatives for prostate enlargement
Saw palmetto Serenoa repens has been widely tested and results are promising. It is thought to work by preventing testosterone from breaking down into another form of the hormone associated with prostate tissue growth. In 1998, researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs reviewed more than a dozen studies involving saw palmetto. It found saw palmetto to be as effective as finasteride in reducing the size of an enlarged prostate and produce fewer side effects. The herbal alternative does work slowly with improvement in urinary symptoms within 1 to 3 months. If after that time there is no improvement then the herb should be discontinued. Additional research is required to determine the appropriate daily dosage of the supplement, its long-term effectiveness.
Many conventional drugs have a herbal basis, so just because we associate herbs with health does not mean they are necessarily ‘better’ for you. Also remember, as with many herbal products, saw palmetto may suppress PSA prostate specific antigen levels in your blood and can interfere with the effectiveness of the PSA test so it is important to tell your doctor before having a PSA test.
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