How to Nurture Your Prostate this Movember
Are you growing your moustache for Movember? It’s that time of the year again when men across the globe begin sporting facial hair of all sizes, shapes and colours.
Movember aims to raise awareness of prostate cancer and has so far raised almost £400 million to support men’s health.
Discover how you can naturally support your prostate health and reduce your risk of suffering from problems with this little gland.
Meet Your Prostate
Your prostate gland sits underneath your bladder and is around the size and shape of a walnut, although it usually grows larger with age. Running through your prostate is your urethra, the tube you use to urinate and ejaculate. The main job of your prostate is to make semen.
Symptoms of an Unhappy Prostate
If your prostate is suffering, you might find you’re:
- Running to the bathroom frequently, especially at night.
- Struggling to urinate, with a weak flow when it does start, or dribbling urine after you’ve finished. You might even see blood in your urine.
- Feeling pain or a burning sensation when you pee.
- Having difficulties in maintaining an erection, or you may feel pain when you ejaculate.
- Experiencing pain in your lower back, hips or upper thighs.
Prostate cancer affects over 47,000 men every year in the UK, making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK.
Your risk increases with age, and there is a genetic link. It’s more common if you’re obese or suffer from diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
Prostate cancer develops when the cells of the prostate gland multiply out of control. It often grows very slowly and for many men it doesn’t cause any problems. But sometimes it can spread, producing secondary tumours elsewhere such as in the lymph nodes.
If your prostate grows in size and presses on your urethra, you’ll find it difficult to urinate. This is called benign prostate enlargement (BPE) and it’s very common in older men. Sometimes the prostate becomes inflamed and painful, a condition known as prostatitis. This inflammation can be caused by a bacterial infection but often no obvious cause is found.
Although the symptoms of prostate enlargement and prostate cancer are similar, having BPE doesn’t mean you’re more likely to develop cancer.
Testing for Prostate Cancer
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms it’s important to get checked because early detection of prostate cancer is strongly linked to improved outcomes.
Testing for prostate cancer involves looking at the amount of an antigen in your blood called PSA. This substance is often raised in BPE and very high with prostate cancer. However, other factors can also increase PSA levels.
It’s believed prostate enlargement is connected with fluctuations in testosterone, particularly increases in a strong type of testosterone called DHT, as well as increases in oestrogen.
Reducing Your Risk of Prostate Issues
- It’s all About the Bacteria
Scientists are constantly discovering connections between the microbiome, the bacteria living in your gut, and health issues elsewhere in the body.
In studies, men with less variety of bacteria in their gut were more likely to suffer from an inflamed prostate. It’s thought this is down to messenger chemicals released by gut bacteria travelling to the prostate and sparking off inflammation.
You have your own unique population of bacteria residing in your digestive system. Antibiotic use can destroy your healthy bacteria, while diets high in sugar encourage non-beneficial bacteria to thrive. Nourish your beneficial bacteria by including plenty of fibre-rich plant foods on your plate.
- Oxidative Stress
All body cells produce free radicals when they make energy, and unless neutralised by antioxidants these can damage cells. Free radical damage is thought to be one of the reasons a cell turns cancerous. Anything stressing out your body such as poor sleep, smoking, environmental pollutants, a nutrient-depleted diet or too much alcohol will encourage free radical production.
Your best protection against free radicals is a wide range of colourful plant foods brimming with protective antioxidants. Red foods like tomatoes and watermelons containing an antioxidant called lycopene seem to be especially protective towards your prostate.
- Eat Your Way to Prostate Health
Red meat, particularly if it’s processed, is linked with prostate cancer. Alcohol and caffeine can irritate your prostate, with alcohol increasing oestrogen levels too.
Zinc is a particularly important mineral for prostate health. Pumpkin seeds, seeds, nut and seafood are rich sources of zinc.
Stress can reduce testosterone availability as well as encouraging it to be made into oestrogen. Take time to identify your personal stress triggers and counter them using yoga or Tai Chi.
Functional Medicine and Your Prostate
I will provide you with a personalised prostate health plan including dietary and lifestyle strategies to support your friendly bacteria, reduce oxidative stress, replace any missing nutrients and restore healthy hormone balance. Specific prostate-supporting herbs may also be recommended.