Your diet and your prostate
While the exact causes of BPH are 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 reduce the risk of developing an enlarged prostate (BPH), as well as lessen the severity of the symptoms, there are others which can actually aggravate your symptoms.
The more inflammation present in your body generally, the more likely you are to have inflammation in the prostate, so avoiding or limiting certain foods which trigger an inflammatory response is a good place to start, as well as 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 can cause inflammation flare ups and bladder problems. Knowing the main culprits however could help you manage your symptoms better.
Foods to avoid
You may love your steak but the problem with meat is that it elevates levels of arachidonic acid in your body, and that, in turn, increases inflammation, the very thing your enlarged prostate does not need. Choosing alternatives such as lean meat and fish is a better option for men needing to reduce inflammation of the prostate.
Eggs & Poultry
A study published in the January 2006 issue of Urology which explored the connection between food and the increased occurrence of BPH symptoms, found that eating eggs and poultry appeared to increase symptoms, so these too should be avoided if possible. Egg yolks also have high levels of arachidonic acid, which, as mentioned earlier, increases inflammation. Try eating only the egg white, as this is a good source of protein.
Processed foods & sugar
Highly processed food (which tends to include junk food and take-aways) and refined sugar all increase inflammation in your system. Cut them down or out to reduce the pressure on your prostate.
Avoiding or limiting your caffeine intake including coffee, tea and fizzy drinks can make a big difference to your urinary health. Caffeine has a diuretic effect, which means it increases your urge to go to the toilet. Because it can be difficult for men with an enlarged prostate to empty their bladders completely, drinking these beverages, especially late at night, can irritate the bladder and increase the need to go to the toilet.
Instead, try drinking chamomile tea which has anti-inflammatory properties, green tea which has antioxidant benefits or caffeine-free coffee alternatives such as Bambu. Another important drink for your prostate is water. It’s vital to stay well hydrated, but remember to try not to drink anything at least 2 hours before bedtime.
Curries, chilli, hot sauces can make tasty meals but men with an enlarged prostate need to be wary of spicy foods like these, as they can irritate the bladder and prostate, causing urinary symptoms associated with BPH.
A low fat diet is a recommended way to help relieve BPH symptoms. Dairy is typically high in saturated fats as well as inflammatory chemicals which can worsen your symptoms. Reducing your dairy intake or switching to soya alternatives are a good idea. Worried about the suspected oestrogenic effects of soya? Read my article on whether or not soya is safe for men to drink.
Avoiding alcohol is recommended as it acts as an irritant in the bladder and prostate, 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 watch what you eat and drink, look out for foods which aggravate your BPH symptoms or drinks that make you need the toilet more and try to avoid them if possible or at least eat and drink them less often.
Which prostate hating foods or drinks would you find most hard to give up?
Meet our expert
Having trained as a doctor at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne, Jen Tan, Medical Director of A.Vogel, has been involved in herbal medicine research over a number of years, coordinating projects both within the UK and internationally.