10 ways to keep your prostate healthy and happy

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10 ways to keep your prostate healthy and happy

A healthy prostate is a happy prostate and that means fewer trips to the urologist and fewer urinary issues to deal with.  Often forgotten until something goes wrong, a man’s prostate is a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis.  Its function is to produce the fluid that, together with sperm cells from the testicles and fluids from other glands, makes up semen.  Most men will get through several decades of life without any prostate problems. But, that can change beginning as early as when a man hits his 40’s. 

However, before anything may go wrong, there are several steps a man can take to protect his prostate.  The earlier in life a man takes precautionary steps preserving his prostate’s health, the greater the likelihood of avoiding potential issues in the future.  All men can and should take preventative lifestyle changes to keep their prostate in tip top shape regardless if they have a family history of prostate cancer or not.  

According to the American Cancer Society, about 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2017.  About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. 

Here are 10 ways a man can improve his chances of keeping his prostate healthy and cancer free:

1.      Maintain a healthy body weight and exercise regularly

Men should reach a healthy body weight for their height paying particularly attention to reducing central abdominal obesity or belly fat.  Keeping a consistent, regular exercise program can help maintain weight and keep it from accumulating in the belly area. 

2.     Eat more fruits and vegetables

Men should consume at a minimum 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  The more colorful produce consumed the better. Choose from tomatoes loaded with the phytochemical lycopene along with pink grapefruit, watermelons, and papaya also containing this healthy compound for prostates.  Cruciferous vegetables are always a good choice for preventing all cancers and include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Bok choy, and kale.

3.      Don’t smoke

The role of smoking appears to increase the risk of prostate cancer by affecting circulating hormone levels or through exposure to carcinogens.  If a man currently smokes, he should seek help in quitting as soon as possible.

 

4.     Choose foods rich in selenium

The mineral selenium has been found in studies to have a role in preventing prostate cancer.  Include more selenium rich foods such as wheat germ, tuna, herring, beef liver, eggs, sunflower and sesame seeds, cashews, mushrooms, garlic, and onions. 

5.     Know your family history for prostate cancer

It’s always advisable to know your family medical history and for a man it is important to know if any close relatives (father, brother, or grandfather) ever had prostate issues or prostate cancer.  A man’s doctor needs to be informed of this as any man having a father or brother with prostate cancer has double the chance of developing this disease.

6.     PSA blood test and digital rectal exam

The standard tests for checking a man’s prostate is the prostate specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam.  A man should consult with his doctor as to when these tests should begin but they should be done annually once they are started. 

7.  Have more sex

Good news – research has suggested that frequent ejaculation, whether it happens during sexual intercourse or masturbation, may actually protect the prostate.  Overall, an average of 21 or more ejaculations a month during a man’s lifetime may reduce the risk of prostate cancer later in life by 33%.  And each increase of three ejaculations per week during a man’s lifetime is associated with a 15% reduction in prostate cancer risk. Frequent ejaculation flushes out cancer-causing substances such as contained chemical carcinogens in the prostate gland.  Add in the fact that sex also relieves tension and promotes rapid turnover of fluids preventing the development of mini-crystals that can block ducts within the prostate, the idea of additional sex appears to be very good news indeed. 

8.  Choose fats wisely

Studies indicate a link between animal fats and an increased risk of prostate cancer.  In addition to red meat, animals fats are found in lard, butter, cream, whole fat milk, and cheese. Whenever possible, replace animal-based fats with plant-based fats such as using olive oil in place of butter, nuts or seeds instead of cheese, or cold water fatty fish in place of fatty cuts of red meat. 

9.  Eat more soy-based foods

This plant source of a complete protein (meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids) may play a role in lowering risk of prostate cancer.  Studies have shown that men in various stages of prostate cancer who consumed soy products, had their PSA levels rise at a slower rate.  Soy foods to include are tofu, soy milk, edamame, and miso.  In addition to being a good protein source, it also contains fiber, potassium, and magnesium.

10.  Get your vitamin D

This vitamin appears to play a significant role in slowing or even reversing the progression of low-grade or less aggressive prostate tumors.  Recent research demonstrated giving 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily showed improvements in the tumors compared to men who did not get the supplement.  Food sources of vitamin D include fortified milk, tuna, salmon, sardines and enriched cereal.  The best source is sunlight.