Medically reviewed by Dr. J. Kellogg Parsons M.D
Two of the main risk factors for BPH are advancing age and family history of the disease, neither of which you can change. That’s why some very healthy men end up getting the disease while some unhealthy men do not. Even if though you cannot control all the risk factors for BPH, there are several lifestyle habits you can adopt in preventing BPH.
The good news is there are some lifestyle modifications you can make that can reduce your chances of getting BPH as well as minimize and eliminate your symptoms.Advertisement
If you are in the active surveillance stage and your urinary tract symptoms are mild to moderate and do not require medical attention, there are things you can do to help ensure your BPH will not progress and require treatment. If you are among the 10 percent of men who need treatment, then these steps can also enhance the healing process.
What Lifestyle Changes Can Help Prevent an Enlarged Prostate?
Just because you have BPH does not mean you should stop doing things that can help prevent it; in fact, right now is the perfect time to take positive action and focus on staying as healthy as possible. Here are some lifestyle changes that can help you accomplish that:
- Focus on eating more fruits and vegetables. Are you eating at least 5 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables daily? Fruits and vegetables contain high levels of inflammation-fighting substances such as antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Strong evidence points to the ability of these foods—which are rich in potent phytonutrients–to reduce the risk of developing an enlarged prostate.
- Eat healthful, low-fat foods. Research shows that men who consume a diet low in red meat (which is high in saturated fat) and overall fat (such as The Prostate Diet) are less likely to develop benign prostatic hyperplasia. When choosing fats, be sure to focus on healthy ones (monounsaturated, omega-3) such as those found in avocados, nuts, cold water fatty fish, and plant oils such as olive oil.
- Choose plant protein over animal protein. Plant protein gives you all the nutrients and health benefits needed for maximum prostate health. Diets rich in plant protein have been shown to reduce rates of prostate disease. Research also suggests that soy isoflavones can help prevent BPH, and that beans and lentils are associated with a reduced risk of BPH while poultry and eggs are associated with an increased risk.
- Go for green tea. Green tea contains substances called catechins that travel throughout the body and take up residence in the prostate, where they can modulate the production and actions of hormones and may be useful in the treatment of BPH.
- Avoid foods that are harmful to prostate health. Some foods, nutritional supplements, and food additives are especially harmful to the prostate, including but not limited to red meat, calcium, dairy products, and foods high in sugar.
- Take well-researched supplements. Several natural supplements are especially helpful if you have BPH because they can assist in reducing both inflammation and the symptoms associated with this disorder. Supplements that have been proven to be effective in clinical trials include beta-sitosterol, cranberry, DIM, green tea extract, Pygeum africanum, pollen extract, saw palmetto, stinging nettle root, vitamin D, and zinc.
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Numerous studies have shown a link between being overweight and having a high risk of BPH. Excess weight around the waist and hips is especially associated with a greater risk of BPH.
- Exercise regularly. A recent review of 14 studies that evaluated the impact of exercise on BPH found strong evidence that exercise helps prevent the development of BPH. A regular exercise program can also help prevent obesity, which is also a risk factor for BPH.
- Manage stress. Research shows that stress can worsen symptoms of BPH. Experts suggest that changes in hormone levels or the involvement of the sympathetic nervous system may explain the association between BPH and stress. Making stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, exercise, and good nutrition, a part of your daily routine may alleviate your symptoms.
- Lead a prostate friendly lifestyle. Smoking and irregular sleep patterns can affect your prostate health.
- Maintain hormone balance. Hormones play a role in enlargement of the prostate, thus it is important to try to maintain hormone balance to promote prostate health.
- Maintain a healthy sex life. Sexual activity seems to be healthy for your prostate, but can you have too much of a good thing? Most likely a healthy sex life is an important part of a healthy prostate but the reports are conflicting.
- Avoid exposure to toxins. Stay away from chemicals and other substances that may increase the risk of developing BPH. An Australian study found that exposure to toxic metals at a non-substantial level increased the risk of BPH. Some toxins to avoid include bisphenol-A, phthalates, pesticides, and mercury.
- Cut caffeine intake: Coffee, colas, some energy drinks, tea, and chocolate are likely caffeine sources and can irritate your prostate and worsen BPH symptoms.
- Cut back on spicy and salty foods: These foods can make BPH symptoms worse.
- Limit alcohol: A moderate amount of alcohol (1 to 2 drinks daily) is considered safe, but more than a moderate number of drinks can irritate the prostate and symptoms of BPH.
- Avoid use of over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants: Use of these medications can aggravate BPH symptoms.
- Don’t hold it: Delaying urination can worsen BPH symptoms and even result in urinary tract infections. When you have to go, go.
- Keep diabetes under control: High blood sugar levels and obesity, two characteristics of diabetes, are also risk factors for BPH. Therefore, if you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar levels under control.
- Stay warm. The relationship between lower urinary tract symptoms and cold weather may be related to an increase in activity in the sympathetic nervous system when it is cold, which results in an increase in smooth muscle tone in the prostate and possible worsening of BPH symptoms.