The prostate is a walnut-sized organ wrapped around the urethra that many men don’t think about, despite the fact that plays a crucial role in reproduction. Starting out small, the prostate has two main periods of growth–an initial doubling in size during the teenage years, and a slower continuous growth starting at roughly age 25 and continuing through the man’s life.
However, while the prostate is a relatively innocuous organ, issues with it can lead to greater health issues overall. Chances are that you’ve probably heard of the relative prominence of prostate cancer, and how important it is to get regular prostate exams to check for it. However, cancer isn’t the only problem that can stem from the prostate. Roughly 10 percent of men in their thirties and 20 percent of men in their forties develop a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or simply, an enlarged prostate. Leading to a variety of urinary issues, BPH is an issue you can have a bit more of an active role in working against.
The thing about BPH is that we don’t have a concrete reason as to what exactly causes it yet. There are some theories that hormones play a role. For example, testosterone and estrogen are naturally produced throughout a man’s life, but the amounts of those hormones change. Aging causes the amount of testosterone compared to estrogen to drop. Another root cause may be the male hormone dihydrotestosterone. This plays a role in prostate growth, but also accumulates in old age.
Where you can start to have an impact on BPH is through the various risk factors that make it more likely for a man to deal with the condition as he ages. These include:
•Being over age 40
•A family history of BPH
•Lack of physical activity or exercise
•Erectile dysfunction (ED)
•Heart and cardiovascular diseases
•Type 2 diabetes
Not all of these can be handled so easily, but the best thing you can start doing on your own to try and minimize your chance of dealing with BPH is make sure that you are getting regular physical activity. There are enough other health benefits of doing this to make it well worth your time and energy. In addition, one study tested the effects of diet on BPH. It found that men with more fruits and vegetables in their diets tended to have lower levels of BPH, but the exact nutrients that led to this couldn’t be determined.
This may be all well and good, but at this point, you might be wondering exactly you can do if you’re already active and want some added support or peace of mind. The main area to start will be prostate supplements. Note that these aren’t the same thing as traditional prostate medications such as alpha blockers (which relax prostate muscles). Instead, these are natural ingredients which have a scientific basis for behind able to reduce BPH symptoms. Here are a few common ones:
Saw palmetto: You may not think of this herbal remedy as something that could help with prostate troubles, but it has been used in herbal medicine for centuries to help with a variety of urinary systems. When the eyes of science are put on it, it’s a bit more in the middle. Some smaller-scale studies have shown that it is effective against BPH symptoms, but some show that it doesn’t perform any better than a placebo. For now, research is still being done to determine what type of hormone-blocking and anti-inflammatory properties it has.
Pygeum: Pygeum is similar to saw palmetto in that it has a lot of use in alternative medicine for urinary treatment. However, it hasn’t had the number of studies that its counterpart has. The few studies that have been done suggest it may be able to help with bladder emptying and urine flow.
Beta-sitosterol: This may not sound very herbal, but it’s actually a combination of different plants that contain cholesterol-like substances called sitosterols. Studies have shown that this can provide relief to the urinary symptoms of BPH.
It’s important to add that many supplements designed for prostate support will combine two of several of these ingredients to make for a potent combination. Keep an eye out for top brands like Prostagenix if you are looking for a supplement solution. However, whenever you plan on using supplements or self-care regimens in order to try and complement your treatment for any issue, prostate care included, you want to always keep a doctor or medical professional informed.
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