What is BPH and What Foods Can Help?
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nicole Avena

If you’re a middle-aged man, you might be making multiple trips to the bathroom each night. One common culprit of nightly urination (nocturia) for many men is an enlarged prostate.

But what exactly is the prostate, and why does it often become enlarged as men get older?

Prostate Issues

What is BPH 2 Found only in men, the prostate is a gland that sits just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine out of the body. About the size of a walnut, the prostate’s main function is to produce seminal fluid.

As a man ages, it’s common for his prostate to become enlarged due to hormonal changes, often leading to issues with urination. If left untreated, prostate problems can increase your risk of developing other conditions such as urinary tract infections, kidney damage, or BPH.

What Is BPH?

An enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), occurs when the cells in the prostate gland multiply at an abnormal rate. Although the exact cause of BPH is unknown, there are several factors that can contribute to its development.

Age is one of the biggest risk factors for developing an enlarged prostate. As men age, their testosterone levels may decrease while their estrogen levels can increase, leading to cell growth in the prostate gland. Family history also may play a role in creating prostate problems as genetics can influence a man’s likelihood of developing BPH.

Other contributing factors include lifestyle choices such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Being overweight or maintaining a sedentary lifestyle also may lead to an increased risk of getting BPH. Additionally, medications used to treat high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and mood issues may worsen symptoms or cause urinary retention.

Standard BPH Treatment

Treatment for an enlarged prostate may vary depending on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, your doctor may simply monitor your symptoms and recommend lifestyle changes such as limiting fluids or avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.

For moderate to severe cases, medication may be prescribed to help shrink the prostate gland or relax muscles in the bladder and prostate. Alpha-blockers, such as tamssulosin (Flomax) or terazosin (Hytrin), are commonly used to help relax the muscle fibers that tighten around the urethra. Other medications, like dutasteride (Avodart) and finasteride (Propecia), help block the hormones that can cause prostate enlargement.

In cases where medication is ineffective, surgery, such as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), may be recommended.

If the thought of taking medications or undergoing a medical procedure isn’t your first choice, there may be certain natural interventions that can help your situation. Making healthy lifestyle choices, such as exercising regularly and getting quality rest, may help reduce the chances of developing BPH and other prostate/urinary issues.

In addition to these lifestyle measures, getting the right nutrients through diet and supplements can help support the prostate and relieve BPH symptoms. Here are just a few prostate-promoting nutrients you should consider getting via foods each day.

3 of the Best Foods to Help Relieve Symptoms of BPH

Avocados

Avocados offer both healthy fat and fiber, which can help support blood sugar levels and provide sustained energy. Much of an avocado’s fat is oleic acid, a monosaturated fat also present in olive oil, which may be responsible for some of its health benefits. Avocados are rich in beta-sitosterol, a plant-derived nutrient that may help reduce BPH issues.

Though the effectiveness of beta-sitosterol supplements hasn’t been validated, eating foods rich in this plant sterol may help relieve BPH symptoms. These foods include:

  • Pecans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Wheat germ

Leafy Green Vegetables

Dark, leafy greens are packed with nutrients that can help improve your health. They’re loaded with vitamins and minerals, and contain high levels of fiber which can help regulate digestion and elimination. Also, they’re low in carbohydrates, which makes them a great option for people with blood sugar issues.

Some of the healthiest leafy greens are:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Collard greens
  • Mustard greens

Since they’re rich in antioxidants, introducing a variety of leafy greens into your diet may be an important step toward relieving BPH issues.

Tomatoes

There’s a reason for the tomato’s bright red coloring…it’s loaded with lycopene. This bright-colored carotenoid may help lower the risk of developing prostate issues and slow the progression of BPH.

Other foods rich in lycopene are:

  • Apricots
  • Papaya
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Watermelon

Schedule Regular Check-ups

An enlarged prostate is a common condition that affects many men as they age.

Scheduling regular check-ups with your doctor is a smart way to maintain good prostate health. Men over 50 should discuss risk factors for developing prostate problems and get regular blood work, including a PSA test, if recommended by their doctor.

Though BPH often can be addressed with lifestyle modifications, some cases may require additional steps to help manage the issue. Early detection and treatment can help relieve symptoms and prevent complications down the road, so don’t delay in reaching out to a trained medical professional if you’re having urinary or prostate problems.

 

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This content is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical or healthcare advice from a physician, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new health regimen.

Keith Rowe
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