The majority of American men will develop a pathologically enlarged prostate gland (also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH). The good news, though, is that like many other epidemics of chronic disease plaguing the Western world, it can be prevented and treated with a plant-based diet.
The prostate gland surrounds the urethra as it exits the bladder. If the gland gets too big it can constrict the normal flow of urine. Men can be left with a hesitant, weak urine stream, dribbling, irritation, and inadequate emptying of the bladder requiring multiple nightly trips to the bathroom. In the United States, it affects about 50% of men in their 50′s and 80% of men in their 80′s, but as I note in the above video it’s extremely rare in certain populations and diet may be to blame for our BPH epidemic. What if you already have it though?
According to a recent review I profile in my 3-min. NutritionFacts.org video, Prostate Versus Plants, the most notable development in the epidemic of prostate enlargement and lower urinary tract symptoms is the recognition that modifiable lifestyle factors such as diet can substantially influence the progression of the disease. All men should consider eating a prostate-healthy diet that includes legumes (beans, peas, lentils, soy); certain vegetables (like garlic and onions); and certain seeds (flax seeds); and avoids refined grains, eggs, and poultry.
If individual plant foods reduce the risk of prostate enlargement, what about an entire diet composed of plant foods? In my Care2 video on Wednesday, Cancer-Proofing Your Body, I showed how a healthy diet can slow down the abnormal growth of prostate cancer cells, but what about the abnormal growth of normal prostate cells? In a similar series of experiments researchers took a bunch of men and put them on a plant-based diet for just 2 weeks. Then they dripped the mens’ blood on prostate cells growing in a petri dish and saw, as with the cancer, a significant drop in growth. As I detail in my video Prostate Versus a Plant-Based Diet not only do prostate cell growth rates drop almost immediately upon adopting a healthier diet, but follow-up studies on men eating plant-based diets for up to 28 years straight show that as long as one continues to eat healthy, prostate cell growth rates go down and they stay down.
For more on the health benefits of garlic and onions see:
More on flax in:
And more on the concerns about poultry:
- EPIC Findings on Lymphoma
- Chicken Dioxins, Viruses, or Antibiotics?
- Poultry and Penis Cancer
- Poultry Exposure and Neurological Disease
Michael Greger, M.D.
Image credit: lazzarello / Flickr