Ways to promote prostate health

September is a month where we raise awareness of men's health, writes Deanna Copland.

Deanna Copland
Deanna Copland

And, just to clear up any confusion between prostrate and prostate, I'm talking about prostate health.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or benign enlargement of the prostate gland, is a condition associated with ageing and is estimated to affect 70% of men over the age of 70. Factors involved in the causation of BPH may include high meat and dairy intake, high alcohol intake, advancing age and a history of tuberculosis. Prostate cancer only affects men and is a tumour (or growth of cells) that starts in the prostate gland.

Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, and risk increases with age. Sadly, it is not limited to this age bracket.

A man's chance of getting prostate cancer is doubled if his father or a brother has had prostate cancer. If anyone in a man's family has had breast or prostate cancer or signs of oestrogen dominance such as fibrocystic breasts, fibroids, endometriosis etc, then early detection is the key.

Saw palmetto and stinging nettle are herbs which have been shown in clinical studies to reduce symptoms such as urinary frequency, nocturia, hesitancy, dribbling and incomplete emptying, while significantly increasing urinary flow rate.

Red clover, a herb commonly used for decreasing oestrogenic load on the body, is also commonly recommended by naturopaths for BPH.

Increased activation of oestrogen receptors within the prostate has been found to encourage the hyperproliferation of tissue seen in BPH and prostate cancer. Regulating oestrogenic load in men is important. Humans are being exposed to many endocrine-disrupting hormones on a daily basis and so we must avoid drinking out of plastic water bottles or heating or storing food in plastic containers as these are known to release chemicals affecting hormones.

Beer is also oestrogenic, so men should moderate the amount they drink.

The prostate gland in men contains the highest amount of zinc of any soft tissue. Adequate zinc levels support prostate health and the body's normal production of testosterone. It should be noted that the hormone testosterone is essential for promoting lean muscle mass.

Carotenoids are antioxidants found in red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. Lycopene is the most efficient antioxidant in this group and is the predominant carotenoid in the plasma and in various tissues, including the prostate. It is found in watermelon, tomatoes, all tomato-based products, pink grapefruit, apricots and papaya.

Some studies have shown a decreased risk of developing advanced prostate cancer with a high intake of tomato products (more than 10 servings per week). Cooked tomato products seem to have a greater effect than raw tomato products.

Other foods that are beneficial for preventing or reducing symptoms include:

Salmon: rich in healthy fats that contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help to prevent and reduce inflammation within the body. Other cold-water fish, such as sardines and trout, are also rich in these types of fats.

Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are excellent sources of antioxidants, which help to remove free radicals from the body. Free radicals are the by-products of reactions that occur within the body and can cause damage and disease over time.

Broccoli: Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, including bok choy, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, contain a chemical known as sulforaphane. This is thought to target cancer cells and promote a healthy prostate as well as detoxifying oestrogen properly.

Nuts and seeds: Nuts are rich in zinc, a trace mineral. The prostate contains the highest zinc concentration of any soft tissue. Dietary zinc deficiency is associated with increased DNA damage in the prostate during oxidative stress, perpetuating an increased need for this mineral. Zinc is thought to help balance testosterone and DHT. Besides nuts, shellfish such as oysters and legumes are also high in zinc.


Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Finnish salmon soup

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 180g hot smoked salmon fillets, skinned and cut into largish chunks, reserve the skin
4 Tbsp oil
1 large leek, trimmed, thinly sliced, and well rinsed
1 onion, thinly sliced
5 cups (1.25 litres) water/fish stock
2½ cups waxy potatoes, cubed into 1cm pieces
1 large carrot, peeled, cubed into ½cm pieces
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 cup (10g) fresh dill, finely chopped
½ cup (250ml) coconut cream/cream fraiche]
¼ tsp allspice
salt and white pepper, to taste
lemon wedges

Method
1. Melt the butter in a soup pot and saute the onion and leeks for 10 minutes, or until soft.

2. While the leeks are cooking, put 5 cups of water and the reserved fish skin in a large pot and bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

3. Discard the fish skin and add the fish stock to the pan with the leeks, along with the potatoes, carrots and half of the fresh dill. Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender. Add the canned tomatoes.

4. Add the salmon chunks to the soup along with the coconut cream and allspice, and gently simmer on low heat until cooked through, just a few minutes. Add the remaining dill, salt and white pepper to taste. Serve with lemon wedges and a crusty sourdough for a hearty, bloke-friendly meal.

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