When reading an article discussing health challenges facing men, there’s a good chance you’ll come across sections devoted to prostate health and testosterone. There are plenty of reasons as to why these issues garner so much attention; testosterone influences both physical and mental health, whereas the prostate is an essential component of the male reproduction system. As a result, it’s important for men to monitor both their testosterone levels and prostate health as they age.
The Impact of Diet on the Prostate
The prostate is a male organ about the size of a walnut that produces seminal fluid. Like any other organ, the prostate can fall victim to various diseases and conditions. Three maladies that frequently afflict the prostate are prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and prostate cancer.
Prostatitis often, but not always, occurs when harmful bacteria attacks the prostate. Symptoms include pain in the abdomen, groin, lower back, penis and testicles. The patient may also have trouble urinating, or instead may be bothered by urges to urinate throughout the day and night. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) develops when the prostate swells to an abnormally large size, leading to either difficulty urinating or frequent urination. Prostate cancer can likewise make it difficult for the patient to urinate, and might also cause recurring lower back pain and painful ejaculations.
One way to maintain a healthy prostate is to stick to a healthy diet. Of course, this will involve emphasizing certain foods and drinks while avoiding others. When eaten in excess, red meats can be very harmful to the prostate; research has linked well-done red meats to a greater risk of prostate cancer. Artificially-sweetened beverages, such as sodas and fruit drinks, can also prove damaging to the long-term health of the prostate. On the flip side of the coin, a diet that stresses fruits and veggies can keep the prostate firing on all cylinders. Additionally, many fruits and vegetables contain lycopene, a chemical that some studies have found to have cancer-fighting properties.
Another nutrient that might be useful in warding off prostate cancer is selenium, a nutrient found in Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and fish. This very topic was addressed by the Netherlands Cohort Study, a long-term medical study including over 58,000 Dutch men. In April 2013, this project announced that it had unearthed a correlation between selenium and prostate cancer risk. Specifically, men with the highest recorded selenium levels had a 60 percent smaller risk of prostate cancer than men with the lowest amounts of selenium. The authors of the report cautioned that more research was needed to confirm their findings.
Prostate Health and Exercise
Believe or not, there is some evidence that regular exercise can have a positive impact on the prostate organ. An example of this possible connection comes from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, a massive medical research project spearheaded by Harvard School of Public Health. The men in this study who exercised on a consistent basis were found to have a reduced risk of BPH; even moderate amounts of physical activity were observed to have this effect.
The Health Professionals Follow-up Study also examined 1400 men in the early stages of prostate cancer. According to this study, walking at a brisk pace for at least three hours a week may help restrict the spread of prostate cancer. Men who followed this regimen were 57% less likely to see their cancer spread than those who did not.
Prostatitis symptoms may also be somewhat alleviated by exercise. A team of Italian researchers put this theory to the test, publishing their results in early 2007. The men who volunteered for this study were subsequently placed into two groups; one group walked three times per week, while the other group did non-aerobic activities like sit-ups. Each set was monitored over a period of 18 weeks.
At the conclusion of the study, men in both groups reported feeling better. However, those that regularly walked each week noted that their prostatitis pain had diminished. Because of these findings, the researchers concluded that aerobic activities might help men cope with prostatitis.
Testosterone and Men’s Health
Testosterone is a hormone responsible for maintaining male sex drive; it also contributes to men’s muscle mass, bone density and red cell production. Male testosterone levels generally start declining after age 30. Low testosterone not only hampers the male sex drive, but can also lead to feelings of depression and deplete the body’s lean muscle mass. Additionally, men struggling with declining testosterone often feel tired and sluggish.
You may have heard about various treatments and therapies for boosting testosterone. While these therapies may work for some people, they can also trigger some potentially serious side effects. These adverse reactions are listed below:
- Exacerbate symptoms of sleep apnea
- Increase risk of heart disease by forcing the body to make excessive red blood cells
- Can cause the appearance of visible skin blemishes, such as acne
- May stimulate the growth of preexisting prostate cancer
- May reduce testicle size
- Could lead to reduced sperm production
Do you really want to risk these potential side effects when you could naturally treat your low testosterone level? These alternatives not only save money and time, but also don’t include such unpleasant side effects.
For starters, exercising is a big testosterone booster. Exercises that can help increase testosterone include free weight squats and lunges and cable/elastic band squat-presses. Compound exercises, which work several muscle groups simultaneously, are also a good choice. Examples of compound exercises include bench presses, dead lifts, shoulder presses and squats.
Your testosterone level can also be affected by what you eat. One mineral that aids in the natural production of testosterone is zinc. Foods that contain a lot of zinc include oysters, chicken, turkey, beans, and dairy products. B vitamins, which are found in eggs, bananas and avocadoes, are also useful for keeping testosterone at healthy level. Don’t go crazy with eggs, however; due to their cholesterol content, it’s best to have only a few per week.