The Connection Between an Enlarged Prostrate and Diet and Lifestyle

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07/01/2024

A CONDITION known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), where the prostate gland grows larger than usual, which can cause problems with urination in men, stands out as both a common condition and an often misunderstood one.

This is according to Ryan Snodgrass, a CVS product manager for Pharma Dynamics, as the country observes Men’s Health Month in June. Snodgrass also sheds light on the intricate relationship between diet, lifestyle factors, obesity and the development of BPH. He says the BPH affects up to 60% of men over the age of 40 years.

“As men age, the prostate gland, situated beneath the bladder and surrounding the urethra, can become enlarged. When this is caused by BPH, it can block the urethra, leading to a host of uncomfortable lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), such as frequent urination and other infections. BPH can significantly impact quality of life,” explains Snodgrass.

Also read: Men’s Health Month: Facts about prostrate cancer

The manager reveals that BPH is particularly important to discuss during Men’s Health Month because it is one of the most common health issues affecting ageing men. He says: “The Urology Care Foundation estimates that half of men between 51 and 60 years of age have BPH, and up to 90% of men over 80 years have an enlarged prostate. This demographic shift underscores the pressing need for a deeper understanding of the factors contributing to its development.”

Snodgrass adds that studies suggest that certain dietary patterns may influence the risk of developing BPH. “For instance, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains appears to be associated with a lower risk of BPH, possibly due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of these foods. On the contrary, diets high in red meat and saturated fats may elevate the risk, although the mechanisms behind this correlation warrant further investigation,” he says.

Snodgrass says it is not just about what we eat but how much we eat that matters, too. He alludes: “Obesity, fuelled by excessive caloric intake and sedentary lifestyles, has emerged as a significant risk factor for BPH. Excess body weight contributes to hormonal imbalances, inflammation and metabolic dysregulation, all of which can promote prostate growth. Obesity also exacerbates other comorbidities like diabetes and hypertension, further complicating the picture.”

Also read: Men’s Health Awareness Month – Why should you get your checkup every year

The manager says that emerging evidence suggests that psychological stress may also play a role in the development of BPH. “Addressing BPH comprehensively requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses dietary modifications, lifestyle changes and proactive management of comorbidities. Health professionals advocate for a diet rich in plant-based foods, lean proteins and healthy fats while limiting processed foods and sugary beverages. Portion control and mindful eating can help prevent overeating and maintain a healthy weight,” Snodgrass adds.

He concludes that incorporating regular physical activity into daily routines is equally crucial, whether it is brisk walking, swimming or cycling. Aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week can confer significant benefits for prostate health.

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