Diet and your prostate
While the exact cause of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (otherwise known as BPH or an enlarged prostate) is not entirely understood, we do know that what you eat can have a big influence on the health of your prostate. While some foods can help to reduce the risk of you developing BPH, as well as lessening the severity of your symptoms, there are others which can actually aggravate the problem.
The more inflammation present in your body generally, the more likely you are to have inflammation in the prostate. Therefore, avoiding or limiting your intake of foods which trigger an inflammatory response is a good place to start when dealing with the problem, as is staying clear of food and drinks which irritate the bladder and cause frequent urination.
Unfortunately gentlemen, it is often some of our favourite foods that cause inflammation flare ups and bladder problems however, knowing the main culprits could help you to manage your symptoms better.
Foods to avoid: Red meat
A juicy steak, a Sunday roast or some Italian meatballs are just a few popular dinner choices that make use of red meat however, if these are some of your favourites then I have some bad news - they won’t help the health of your prostate!
The problem with meat is that it elevates levels of arachidonic acid in your body and this, in turn, increases inflammation - the very thing your enlarged prostate does not need!
The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives to red meat that won’t cause such issues. Fish for example, is a good option for men who need to reduce inflammation in the prostate so why not swap that roast for a tasty fish stew?
If this doesn’t take your fancy though, simply have a look at our Recipe Hub for some inspiration. Our Healthy Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas is extremely popular, as is our Trout with Creamy Potato Salad.
Foods to avoid: Eggs & poultry
A study published in the January 2006 issue of Urology explored the connection between food and an increase in the occurrence of BPH symptoms.1 It found that eating eggs and poultry appeared to increase symptoms so if possible these should also be avoided. Egg yolks also have high levels of arachidonic acid, which, as mentioned earlier, increases inflammation.
That being said, if you don’t want to give up eggs completely you could try eating only the egg white as this is a good source of protein. Meringue, anyone?
Foods to avoid: Processed foods & sugar
Highly processed foods are another no-go for those with prostate problems as these contain refined sugar which, once again, can increase inflammation. Ready-meals, crisps, fizzy juice, cereals and canned goods are all highly processed so cut down your intake of these things in order to reduce the pressure on your prostate.
They say fresh is best for a reason so try swapping these things for fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and chicken. Not only are these better for your prostate, they are also highly nutritious and healthy too!
Foods to avoid: Caffeine
Avoiding or limiting your caffeine intake, including coffee, tea and fizzy drinks, is another thing that can make a big difference to your urinary health.
Caffeine has a diuretic effect which means it can increase your urge to go to the toilet. On top of this, drinking these beverages, especially late at night, can irritate the bladder and so will make it more likely that you’ll need to use the toilet. As it is difficult for men with an enlarged prostate to empty their bladders completely anyway, consuming caffeinated drinks will only add to the problem.
There are now so many caffeine-free drinks available that it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge to swap your usual brew for something a little kinder to your bladder.
Chamomile tea is particularly beneficial as it has anti-inflammatory properties however, if you favour coffee then Bambu, our caffeine-free coffee, is a great alternative.
On top of this, another important drink for your prostate is water. It’s vital you stay well hydrated if you suffer from the condition (and, for that matter, even if you don’t) but remember not to drink anything at least 2 hours before bedtime.
Foods to avoid: Spicy foods
Spicy foods such as curry and chilli are yet another thing you must be aware of if you suffer from an enlarged prostate. These things can irritate the bladder and prostate and may bring on the urinary symptoms associated with BPH such as feeling the need to urinate frequently and urgently. So, from here on in it may be better to swap the hot sauce for ketchup!
Foods to avoid: Dairy
Dairy is high in saturated fats and inflammatory chemicals which, I’m sure you understand by now, can worsen your prostate-related symptoms.
As a result of this it could help if you reduce your intake of dairy however, this may have you wondering what you can consume instead. Well, you have lots of options including soya milk, almond milk and coconut milk. These are drinks are all readily available in health food stores and supermarkets so why not give them a try? Our friends over at Jan de Vries also have a selection of brands to choose from including Biona’s delicious Organic Coconut Milk!
I understand that you may be worried about the suspected oestrogenic effects of soya but you can read my article on whether or not soya is safe for men to drink for more information on this.
Foods to avoid: Alcohol
If you have an enlarged prostate it is also recommended that you avoid drinking alcohol as this acts as an irritant to the bladder and prostate thus resulting in the need to urinate frequently. There is however, some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption can help reduce the risk of BPH but the key word here is moderation!
So, there are definitely a few foods you should try to avoid if you have BPH however, I hope this blog has also shown you that there are lots of alternatives out there too.
From here on in, if you want to keep your symptoms under control there are a few things to remember:
- Watch what you eat and drink
- Look out for foods which aggravate your BPH symptoms
- Monitor which drinks make you need the toilet more and try to avoid them if possible or at least drink them less often.
Originally published 23 February 2015 (updated on 10 October 2018)