NYS Certified Nutritionist

Dietary Choices and Prostate Enlargement

Men may well have more influence over the anticipated enlargement of their prostate glands, as they age, than they realize. Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy [BPH] is a condition many men expect to face after middle age. An article published in the November 2021 issue of the journal Nutrients, by Italian scientists, challenges this notion. Their research spanned 1964-2021, and included male populations from many countries, as they looked for associations between BPH rates and dietary patterns.

BPH, according to epidemiological estimates, afflicts 50% of men over the age of 50, and 80% of men over the age of 70. The prostate, a donut-shaped gland, surrounds the male urethra [the tube allowing urine to exit the bladder]. When the prostate gland enlarges, the urethra is compressed, and the bladder has difficulty emptying properly, which can lead to discomfort, and serious complications.

Happily, the Italian scientists reported finding value in selecting a diet that has been shown to prevent the likelihood of excessive enlargement and inflammation. Men eating red meat daily had a 38% increased BPH risk. Therefore, cultures where men ate mostly refined grains and red meat, with few plant foods, had increased rates of this condition.

The data suggest eating a Mediterranean Diet could be a useful strategy for preventing BPH. This diet emphasizes the intake of whole grains, colorful vegetables and fruits, nuts, legumes, and fish. The research also found that vegetable intake appeared to be of more importance than fruit. I usually suggest about three servings of fruit a day for enjoyment and good nutrition.

Yet again, the plant based diet has shown itself to be the smart approach to prevention of many of the conditions of ageing…including enlargement of the prostate. Also of interest in this study was the scientists’ inclusion of the data from blood tests for Vitamin D levels. Men with adequate blood levels of Vitamin D, had an 18% lower risk of BPH. This “vitamin” is produced by our largest organ, our skin. It is really more hormone-like in its function, and it is very difficult to get adequate amounts from food. [Dairy products are fortified with Vitamin D, but need to be consumed mindfully.] Advice from a nutritionist, and/or a medical provider, in addition to monitoring of your 25OH Vitamin D level, will help all of us to find the best level to maintain our good health.

Dateline: Town of Colonie, Albany County, New York State

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