The prostate does a lot for a man that many woman may not realize. The role of this small gland is to produce a milky substance that is made up of enzymes, zinc, calcium, prostate-specific antigen, citric acid and acid phosphatase.
This substance helps mix with the sperm to provide protection against the acidic vaginal fluids and nourishment for the journey. It also helps to lubricate the urethra for the journey out.
The prostate is about the size of a walnut and sits underneath the bladder surrounding the urethra. Upon palpation (such as during a rectal exam), it has the firmness similar to the end of the nose which is important to distinguish from “boggy” which may mean an infection, to “hard” which may indicate cancer.
If the prostate does not function well due to inflammation and/or infection, it can become painful and create issues with fertility for a man.
As men age, their prostate can continue to grow, which causes issues with urination. This condition is commonly known as benign prostatic hypertrophy or benign prostatic hyperplasia. As a result, it is important that men work to keep their prostate healthy and can do so with these 3 nutrient rich food categories.
1) Oysters, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds
These foods contain zinc which is thought to be beneficial for maintaining healthy testosterone pathways. These in turn can reduce the risk of an enlarged gland. Zinc is also a major component of prostate fluid for the sperm to use as nourishment.
2) Salmon and other fatty cold water fish
These fish contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are omega-3 essential fatty acids that reduce inflammation. Research suggests that consuming these wild-caught varieties, or taking a good quality omega-3 fish oil, can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer and help those undergoing prostate cancer treatment.
Lycopene is an antioxidant found in high concentrations in tomatoes. Research demonstrates that including tomatoes and lycopene in your diet regularly may help protect against prostate cancer and BPH however larger studies are needed. Regardless, do not hesitate to add tomatoes to your sandwiches and salads, or to create sauces for spaghetti.
Discussing the prostate can be difficult and sensitive for some men due to embarrassment, or not fully understanding what this gland does in their body.
Common symptoms of prostate problems are difficulty with urination, weak urine stream, forked urine stream, rising multiple times in the night to urinate, and urinating more often than normal during the day.
Other possible symptoms include pain with ejaculation, pressure or pain in the rectal area especially on sitting, and fertility issues.
If any of these symptoms seem familiar, talk with your health care provider about testing and an exam for your health.
1) Ejike, C., and Ezeanyika, L. (2011). Inhibition of the experimental induction of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a possible role for fluted pumpkin (Telfairia occidentalis Hook f.) seeds.
2) Li, C., Hou, Y., Yeh, C., Yeh, S. (2014). Effects of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid on prostate cancer cell migration and invasion induced by tumor-associated macrophages.
3) Mayo Clinic. (2015). Lycopene.
4) Miyanaga, N., Akaza, H. (2015). Prostate Cancer Prevention.
5) National Institutes of Health. (2013). Zinc: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.
Reviewed June 29, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith