The prostate is a small organ, typically the size of a walnut or a ping-pong ball. It is not essential for life, you do not see it, and normally, men do not pay much attention to it. In fact, you might not even know much about it… until you start experiencing problems with your urine or bladder control, and a trip to the doctor reveals that you have been neglecting an organ that is important for your fertility.
Where is the prostate located and what does it do?
The prostate is a part of a man’s reproductive system. It is located between the bladder and the penis, just in front of the rectum.
The main function of the prostate is to produce prostatic fluid, contributing between 20-30% of the fluid to the semen. The prostatic fluid is slightly acidic, contains enzymes, zinc and citric acid, and nourishes and protects the sperm from damage.
A healthy prostate is essential for reproduction.
Signs of prostate problems
Prostate problems occur more commonly in men aged 50 and upwards. Symptoms include:
- Frequent need to urinate
- Presence of blood in the urine or semen
- Painful urination or ejaculation
- Pain in the lower back, hips, pelvic area, or upper thighs
Problems can range from mild to serious, and make sure that these are being monitored by your health practitioner:
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)– the prostate is enlarged but not cancerous. This is very common among older men and treatment ranges from active surveillance, medications to surgery or laser for more severe cases.
Bacterial prostatitis– this can be acute (one-time) or chronic (recurring) and usually starts from a bacterial infection. Antibiotics are usually used to treat bacterial prostatitis.
Chronic pelvic pain syndrome / chronic prostatitis– a common prostate problem that causes pain to the groin, lower back or the tip of the penis. Treatment options are medication, lifestyle changes or surgery.
Prostate Cancer– risk is greater for men in their 50’s or older and those who have an unhealthy high-fat diet. If someone in your immediate family has experienced it, there is a greater likelihood of you getting it too. Available modes of treatment are surgery, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy.
Healthy lifestyle adjustments will go a long way in avoiding prostate problems and a myriad of other health conditions.
If you are doing any of these 3 things, you are putting your prostate at risk:
Poor food choices
An unhealthy diet is the major contributor to all illnesses. Foods that are highly-inflammatory and contain a high amount of saturated fats are associated with higher chances of developing prostate cancer:
- Red meat and processed meat products
- Full-fat dairy products, such as whole milk, cheese, ice cream, butter, etc.
- Baked goods
- All other kinds of processed food
Focus on foods that are low in saturated fat and simple sugar, and consume more fiber, fruits and vegetables.
Here are the healthier food swaps that you can try instead:
- Lean protein such as turkey or chicken
- Fish such as tuna and salmon
- Non-meat sources of protein, such as beans, chickpeas, nuts, etc.
- Non-dairy milk, such as almond milk, hemp milk, rice milk, coconut milk, etc.
- Herbal tea
- Olive oil
Lack of physical exercises
Studies reveal a shocking discovery: a sedentary lifestyle is worse than smoking. Lack of physical activity puts you at higher risk of prostate problems, but the good news is: even low to moderate-intensity exercise can yield positive results for your prostate health.
You can start with low-impact exercises, such as walking / brisk walking and simple aerobics, for 30 minutes. Other knee-friendly workouts are swimming, rowing, no-jump cardio and bodyweight training.
Even if you cannot go to the gym, there are many effective workouts that you can do from your home.
Too much caffeine
Men who consume 234 mg or more of caffeine daily are 72% more likely to develop urinary incontinence. Caffeine acts as a diuretic and can irritate the bladder and the prostate by increasing your urine production and frequency.
Limit your caffeine intake to a maximum of two cups per day, or opt for caffeine-free options. Substitute coffee, energy drinks and soda with tea, such as green tea or hibiscus tea, which contains high levels of potent antioxidants beneficial to prostate health. Of course, it’s always important to keep hydrated with plain water, to keep your body functioning well.
The prostate is so small that you do not feel its presence. But when problems come, it can cause pain, negatively affect your quality of life and even develop to the Big C. Do not risk it- be proactive, keep your prostate happy with these small lifestyle changes and enjoy good health for many years to come.