Prostate protection

By Lani Lopez

As usual, diet and exercise are key - even for your prostate
As usual, diet and exercise are key - even for your prostate

Nutrition: "Do not go gentle into that good night." In perhaps the most famous poem on ageing, Dylan Thomas' asserts that wise men 'rage against the dying of the light'. A little attention and effort is all it takes to be wise about ageing and to actively oppose the loss of wellbeing and quality of life.

Yet some aspects of ageing are inevitable. For men that almost always includes enlargement of the prostate. Most men over 45 may experience some prostate enlargement, but many live symptom-free. But by the age of 60 up to 80% of men may experience some urinary interference due to prostate enlargement.

Actively involved awareness of prostate health is growing and many of us know something about the traditional treatments for issues. Surgical removal of all or part of the prostate is common and while many men will experience a relief of symptoms, unwanted consequences frequently result - such as impotence. This should be a last resort. It is time to raise awareness and use of prevention and natural management of prostate enlargement.

Exercise is essential and specifically a routine known as Kegel exercises (see below). These are effective to improve and prolong urinary control, which manages many symptoms of enlargement. Importantly this improved control increases awareness of changes in prostate health and can increase early detection of symptoms, supporting early treatment and better long-term prostate health.

Soothing steps

Wise men advise not to inflame a situation, which is good advice too for prostate health. Inflammation contributes to diseases including cancer and heart disease (another killer for Kiwi men). Stress, physical inactivity and dietary choice all contribute to inflammation.

Follow an anti-inflammatory diet (see below) and pay attention to food allergies or intolerance. Look for symptoms like indigestion, bloating, flatulence, lethargy, headaches, congestion after eating and eliminate foods causing these. A naturopath or clinical nutritionist can help with this. They can also advise of supplements and herbal remedies to fight inflammation; but be on the lookout for anti-oxidant rich supplements containing; curcumin from the spice turmeric, resveratrol, boswellia, lycopene, saw palmetto, stinging nettle and gotu kola, vitamins B, C, D and E, zinc, flax oil, selenium, coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid and omega 3.

Weight is also an inflammatory issue. Excessive body fat is toxic to our system and raises inflammation in the body. Restricting your waistline or what I call 'belt-health' is a key measure for preventive prostate care. Daily exercise is important. Activity as simple as a morning or evening walk will be beneficial. Look for every chance you have to walk to the shop on that convenience run, take the stairs or leave the cart behind at golf. Wise words: Traditional treatments for enlarged prostate can be severe and carry consequences that compromise quality of life and all-round wellbeing. Prevention costs nothing but time and attention and brings with it many rewards.

Lani Lopez Adv. Dip Nat, BHSc. is a naturopath clinical nutritionist, specialist formulator of supplements and founder of lanilopez.com. Talk about any health issue Lani at facebook.com/lanilopez.com or email naturopath@lanilopez.com

Kegel Exercises - simple exercises for urinary control that help monitor prostate symptoms.

Repeated, momentary tightening and release of muscles around the scrotum and anus. You cannot be seen doing them, so do them many times a day. Here's how: Imagine you are trying to hold back urine; lift and squeeze from the penis. Hold for the count of three. Imagine that you are trying to stop yourself passing wind; lift and squeeze your anus. Hold for a count of three. Combine both into one movement. Lift and squeeze, hold for 10 seconds. Rest for 10 - 20 seconds, repeat. Aim for 10 strong holds several times daily, lengthen holds and repeat often. Keep breathing and other muscles relaxed.

Prostate facts

Part of the male reproductive system, a walnut-sized gland sitting below the bladder. Prostates double in size in puberty then stop growing, resuming again at around age 25. This may result in an enlarged prostate, where surrounding tissue stops it expanding.

Enlarged prostate symptoms

Even benign enlargement can cause serious problems such as bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones and incontinence.

Look for: Pain in the groin, lower back and thigh; frequent urination (especially at night); discharge and/or burning sensation when urinating; iInterrupted urinary flow; difficulty emptying bladder; bladder feels full; reduced force; dribbling; urinary blockage

Eat to protect your prostate

Eat lots of fruit, legumes and vegetables and reduce intake of processed foods. Oily fish twice a week. Minimise caffeine and sugar. Reduce carbohydrate intake, choose wholegrains. Snack on raw nuts and seeds.

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