The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits just below a man’s bladder. As men get older, it’s common for the prostate to gradually enlarge up to 2-4 times its original size, which is often associated with hormonal changes due to ageing.
After the age of 50, testosterone, which is commonly known as being responsible for muscle growth and libido, naturally starts to decrease, whilst the level of other hormones such as oestrogen increases.
Although testosterone levels decrease, some of the testosterone is converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and the normal process by which it is broken down, is often inhibited by excess oestrogen. This potent form of testosterone, DHT then collects in the prostate which may cause the overproduction of prostate cells resulting in an enlargement. Other common factors to affect the prostate are heavy metals such as mercury and aluminium and xenoestrogens found in plastic containers, petrochemicals and pesticides.
Excessive urination seems to be a common annoyance for many men, with potentially 3-4 awakenings a night to urinate. The potential reason behind the excessive urination is that the tube which takes the urine from the bladder to the outside (the urethra) passes through the prostate, and if the prostate is enlarged this will place pressure on the urethra impeding the flow of urine and triggering the need to urinate more often. Nighttime urination can also have an effect on melatonin production (sleep hormone), which is also thought to be protective of the prostate.
Other symptoms of an enlarged prostate include difficulty urinating, poor stream, dribbling and sometimes pain. An enlarged prostate can also trigger urinary infection, bladder stones and kidney damage. See our kidney health article here.
Organic produce[i]: It’s important to reduce exposure to pesticides and herbicides when focusing on balancing hormones, which is key in prostate support. Therefore, organic produce is hugely important, and if possible seasonal produce that hasn’t been flown halfway around the world to get here!
Fat: A key factor in prostate health is reducing saturated fat, especially the fat found in red meat, dairy, margarine and all other processed food[ii]. On the other hand, increasing healthy fat such as oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring) and extra virgin olive oil is thought to be protective of the prostate in managing inflammation[iii].
Seeds: Seeds such as linseeds which are super supportive of balancing hormones, and pumpkin seeds[iv]which are thought to reduce the conversion of testosterone to DHT, are rich in healthy fats and essential prostate friendly nutrients such as zinc and magnesium. A good tip for seeds is to blend 2tbsp pumpkin seeds, 1 tbsp sunflower seeds and 2tbsp linseeds in a blender to form a gritty powder and add 1tbsp a day to smoothies, oats or salads. store this in an airtight container (preferably glass) in the fridge where it will last for a week.
Vegetables: Increasing overall vegetable intake is always important. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussel sprouts contain sulforaphane which is supportive in detoxification of excess hormones, whilst tomatoes, guava, pink grapefruit and watermelon are rich in the carotene lycopene which is the most abundant nutrient stored in the prostate. Vegetables are also rich in fibre which is essential for the digestive system and gut health.
Zinc[v]: The mineral zinc is more abundant in the prostate than any other organ in the body. Zinc inhibits the conversion of testosterone to DHT and a deficiency isn’t uncommon in those with prostate dysfunction. Try Zinc 30mg.
Selenium[vii] & vitamin C[viii]: Both are potent antioxidants which have shown to be beneficial in reducing enlarged prostate whilst protecting the prostate against oxidative stress. Try Selenium 200ug and Vitamin C 250mg Multi-Ascorbate Complex
[i] Silva JF, Mattos IE, Luz LL, Carmo CN, Aydos RD. Exposure to pesticides and prostate cancer: systematic review of the literature. Rev Environ Health. 2016 Sep 1;31(3):311-27.
[ii] Richman EL, Kenfield SA, Chavarro JE, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL, Willett WC, Chan JM. Fat intake after diagnosis and risk of lethal prostate cancer and all-cause mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2013 Jul 22;173(14):1318-26.
[iii] Di Sebastiano KM, Mourtzakis M. The role of dietary fat throughout the prostate cancer trajectory. Nutrients. 2014 Dec 22;6(12):6095-109.
[iv] Hong H, Kim CS, Maeng S. Effects of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil in Korean men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. Nutr Res Pract. 2009 Winter;3(4):323-7.
[v] Jarrard DF. Does Zinc Supplementation Increase the Risk of Prostate Cancer? Arch Ophthalmol.2005;123(1):102–103. doi:10.1001/archopht.123.1.102
[vi] Morgia G, Vespasiani G, Pareo RM, Voce S, Madonia M, Carini M, Ingrassia A, Terrone C, Gentile M, Carrino M, Giannantoni A, Blefari F, Arnone S, Santelli G, Russo GI; SPRITE investigators. Serenoa repens + selenium + lycopene vs tadalafil 5 mg for the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms secondary to benign prostatic obstruction: a Phase IV, non-inferiority, open-label, clinical study (SPRITE study). BJU Int. 2018 Aug;122(2):317-325.
[vii] Sayehmiri K, Azami M, Mohammadi Y, Soleymani A, Tardeh Z. The association between Selenium and Prostate Cancer: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2018 Jun 25;19(6):1431-1437.
[viii] Bai XY, Qu X, Jiang X, Xu Z, Yang Y, Su Q, Wang M, Wu H. Association between Dietary Vitamin C Intake and Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Meta-analysis Involving 103,658 Subjects. J Cancer. 2015 Jul 28;6(9):913-21.
Wang X, Ha D, Yoshitake R, Chan YS, Sadava D, Chen S. Exploring the Biological Activity and Mechanism of Xenoestrogens and Phytoestrogens in Cancers: Emerging Methods and Concepts. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Aug 16;22(16):8798.
Chen P, Zhang W, Wang X, Zhao K, Negi DS, Zhuo L, Qi M, Wang X, Zhang X. Lycopene and Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Aug;94(33):e1260.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.