The prostate is a small muscular gland (weighs 1 ounce) that produces some of the ingredients of semen. It can be found in front of the rectum and just below the bladder. The prostate surrounds the urethra which is the tube that leads from the the bladder to the penis. It is vital for the proper functioning of the male reproductive system.
The prostate contracts during ejaculation and squirts its fluid into the urethra. During ejaculation, sperm travels along two tubes called vas deferens which carry millions of sperm from the testes to the seminal vesicles. The seminal vesicles are attached to the prostate and add extra fluid to the semen.The prostate contracts during ejaculation, closing off the opening between the bladder and urethra. The milky fluid produced by the prostate makes up around 30% of the total ejaculate (the rest is sperm and fluid from the seminal vesicles). This prostatic fluid protects the sperm. It contains a number of ingredients, including enzymes, zinc and citric acid.
The prostate needs testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) to function. The enzyme 5α-reductase catalyses the formation of DHT from testosterone.
There are a number of ways in which the prostate can cause medical problems, including:
- Prostate cancer: This is the most common form of cancer in males, affecting 15% of men during their lifetime.
- Enlarged prostate: This affects almost all men aged 50 or over. When the prostate grows, it pushes against the bladder and urethra, making you feel like you need to urinate even though your bladder is not full. It also prevents the urine from flowing out naturally. The medical term for an enlarged prostate is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is the most common non-cancerous form of cell growth in men, and it does not lead to prostate cancer. There are surgical and drug options to treat BPH, but the very best option is to lose weight, reduce estrogen levels and to eat some specific foods and supplements.
Reducing Aromatase Activity
Ageing men sometimes have too much aromatase activity (aromatase is an enzyme), which causes their testosterone to convert to excess estradiol. There are drug options available, but the best option is to lose some weight, eat testosterone boosting foods & supplements and eat foods that inhibit aromatase. Here are foods that help to block this conversion:
- Celery stalks (organic is important as normal celery contains many pesticide residues)
- Red wine (in moderation). Pinot Noir is the best aromatase inhibitor.
- Organic virgin olive oil.
- White Button Mushrooms.
- Oysters. Oysters contain zinc which is a strong aromatase inhibitor.
- Cruciferous Vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, sprouts). Contains 3,3′-Diindolylmethane (DIM) which is has estrogen lowering properties.
- Parsley. This contains apigening which inhibits aromatase. Parsley also stimultes testosterone production in the testicular leydig cells and contains nitric oxide producing nitrates (a key chemical trigger for erections)
Cabbage is full of a chemical called indole-3-carbinol (I3C) which reduces your blood estrogen hormones (great if you are a guy and also great if you are a women and want to reduce the risk of breast cancer). Indole-3-carbinol is produced by the breakdown of the glucosinolate glucobrassicin, which can be found at relatively high levels in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and kale. It is also available as a dietary supplement. Cabbage contains the antioxidants choline, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin as well as the flavonoids kaempferol, quercetin and apigenin. Studies show that I3C stimulates detoxifying enzymes, helping to eliminate toxins and harmful forms of estrogen that can lead to cancer. Boiling cabbage for 10 minutes doesn’t have a huge effect on I3C (80% level remains).
Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a major digestive product of indole-3 carbinol (DIM is formed naturally when I3C is broken down in the gut). DIM has potent effects on estrogen metabolism and is able to keep the bodies estrogen balanced. In small amounts, it can both inhibit the aromatase enzyme (and prevent conversion of testosterone into estrogen) and it can act on more potent forms of estrogen and convert them into less potent forms; this conversion reduces the overall effects of estrogen in the body. Taking too much DIM at once boosts the aromatase enzyme and increases the testosterone to estrogen synthesis. Supplementing our diets with DIM can shift the production of estrogen metabolites away from dangerous 16-hydroxy in favour of beneficial 2-hydroxy metabolites. The amount of cabbage needed to be consumed is large. DIM female dosage is 100-300mg per day. To attain this amount of DIM you would need to eat 500g of cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and green cabbage daily. Male dosage is slightly higher.
Men should take an estradiol test (estrogen), if levels are above average then you might consider supplementing with DIM (it is widely available). This is also applicable if symptoms of estrogen are present such as man-boobs, low libido, decreased morning erections, decreased erectile function. remember that way too much DIM can have the reverse effect and boost estrogen. You can also buy I3C supplements but these should be avoided due to side-effects at high doses, I3C can also transform into many other non-DIM substances. The Bioresponse DIM Supplement looks very good, sourced from the US. A supplemental dose of approximately 100mg DIM seems a sensible option.
Men experience a tendency to gain weight in midlife. Rising estrogen production can result, since fat cells contain the aromatase enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. Unmetabolised estrogen creates a vicious cycle resulting in further estrogen production. This occurs because fat is one source of more active aromatase enzymes (that converts testosterone to estrogen), causing further estrogen production and continuing weight gain. DIM reduces excess estrogen production associated with obesity and male aging. Besides weight gain, another aspect of early ageing in men is prostate gland enlargement. Estrogen accumulates in ageing prostate glands at the same time enlargement occurs.
Things you can do to reduce prostate enlargement.
Old age could bring you Alzheimer's, dementia, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, stress and cancer. Even ending up in a nursing home or requiring the family to care of you. Regain your quality of life by making a start today.
- Don't be sedentary. The prostate depends on a healthy amount of circulation to bring fresh blood and oxygen. A sedentary lifestyle creates problems in the prostate. Certain population groups are at a higher risk than others, these are people who spend longer periods in a seated position with increased pressure from automobile vibrations. This includes truck drivers, bus drivers, motorcycle riders, long distance flight passengers, and people with long daily commutes. Another group at risk for prostate problems includes bicycle riders since they experience increased pressure in the groin as they ride. Try a short daily HIIT exercise session that targets the abdomen and groin. Regular movement will help reduce inflammation in the body and improve prostate health.
- Limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Limit drinking fluids later in the evening.
- Try to urinate at least once every three hours - don't hold until you are near bursting.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.
- Eat foods that are aromatase inhibitors such as celery stalks, red wine, organic virgin olive oil, white button mushrooms, oysters and cruciferous vegetables, sauerkraut and parsley.
- Eat foods that are high in anti-oxidants such as turmeric, watermelon, tomatoes, red grapes etc.
- Increase your intake of healthy fats (such as omega-3) and avoid highly processed oils.
- Saw palmetto berry (SPB) has been widely used as a remedy for urinary dysfunction due to enlarged prostate. Saw palmetto extracted from the saw palmetto fruit has shown mixed results in clinical trials. Supplement quality varies wildly. The results of trials show mild to moderate improvement in symptom score and urinary flow without decreasing prostate size. But the results for SPB has been found to be comparable with the nasty drug finasteride (used to reduce prostate size) without the side effects.
- Get enough selenium in your diet or supplement with selenium. But don't over-dose the selenium as it's very important to just "have enough".
- Get enough vitamin E in your diet or supplement. Vitamin E is a vital antioxidant that fight the oxidative effects of polyunsaturated fats.
- Get enough magnesium in your diet or supplement. it's critical for testosterone production.
- Get enough Zinc in your diet or supplement. The prostate gland contains a higher level of zinc than most other tissues and many studies point to zinc being essential for proper function.
- Load up your diet with good fat sources such as avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, & seeds.
- Consume choline or choline containing foods. Choline acts as an estrogen methylator. So taking choline will reduce estrogen levels in men. 1g daily of choline bitartrate or CDP choline are good choices.
- Improve you gut microbiota. Emerging studies indicate that the microbiota can influence prostate inflammation in relation to benign prostate conditions as well as in prostate cancer. The microbiota's ability to affect hormone levels is also important, particularly in prostate diseases that are affected by estrogen and androgen levels.
- Intermittent fasting and fasting is one of the best ways to boost testosterone and reduce whole body inflammation and cancer growth. Cancer feeds on sugar, and a low carbohydrate diet combined with fasting is a great way to get control of insulin and reduce the bodies dependence on sugar.
Putting aside genetics, there are many easy ways of significantly lowering the risk of getting prostate cancer. No one is exempt from some risk, but this cancer is very prevalent in Western countries where diets tend to be poor and inflammatory. Cancer is preventable in most cases and can be cured, or put into remission, by such things as diet, radical lifestyle changes and fasting.
Strategies that prevent prostate cancer:
- Reduce sugar and simple carbohydrate intake.
- Eat probiotic foods.
- Ditch processed foods.
- Eat foods and supplements known to be cancer preventing.
- Eat foods and supplements known to be anti-inflammatory.
- Eat antioxidant rich foods and supplements.
- Take immune-boosting foods and supplements.
- A perfect micro-nutrient profile, particularly magnesium, calcium, selenium, iodine, zinc and boron.
- A diet rich in herbs and natural spices such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, ginseng, parsley and olive leaf.
- Avoid cancer causing substances.
- Reduce alcohol intake (alcohol is an inflammatory toxin).
- Stop smoking.
- Balance hormones.
- Reduce stress.
- Focus on good sleep.
- Lose weight.
- Avoid cancer causing substances at home and in the environment.
- Maintain a healthy vitamin D level.
- Boron plays an important role in protecting men against prostate cancer.
- Zinc and magnesium are critical.
- Avoid excessive calcium intake, particularly from supplements.
- Genistein, a naturally-occurring soy isoflavone, is reported to have prostate cancer reducing abilities. Soy isoflavones stimulates estrogen receptor B. Soy is mildly estrogenic, but you would need to consume huge quantities of soy to have a harmful effect. Take a genistein supplement or go for a moderate soy intake.
The real solution for treating cancer and disease is not found in a doctors surgery, but rather is found in regulating the metabolic functions within our bodies. Research continues to show that sugar is the main source of fuel which feeds cancer and contributes to an inflammatory environment. Sugar increases the risk for cancer and disease.
The conventional medical route for the treatment of prostate cancer is radiotherapy, chemotherapy and ultimately surgery. All these three need to be avoided at all costs. Prostate cancer screening is prone to over-diagnosis, which is a tendency of finding tumours that fulfil the histological criteria for malignancy, but have little potential for spread and causing death. Lead-time bias is increasing survival by finding disease earlier. Many tumours are screened that are not significant to the specific patient’s health. Prostate cancer often leads to the total removal of the prostate gland.
Screening is crucial for prostate cancer because there’s a much greater chance of recovery and survival if the cancer is managed in its earliest stages. Routine screenings for prostate cancer include digital rectal exams (DRE) and prostate specific androgen (PSA) tests. If cancerous cells are found, it's time for some serious lifestyle changes (diet, hard fasting, weight loss, no alcohol, smoking cessation + all the prostate friendly activities mentioned above).
Estrogen and the prostate
There are 3 types of estrogen. Estrone is prevalent in older women, Estriol is a very weak type of estrogen and estradiol is the most potent form of estrogen and is prevalent in younger women and made by men (via the aromatisation of testosterone, using the enzyme aromatase). Aromatase is found everywhere in the body and it's also found in peripheral fat stores, so fatter men have higher estrogen and lower testosterone.
There are 2 estrogen receptor sites in cells. Estrogen receptor A and estrogen receptor B. In the prostate gland, estrogen receptor A tends to stimulate the growth of tumours, estrogen receptor B tends to modulate the growth of tumours. Soy isoflavones stimulates estrogen receptor B. Soy is mildly estrogenic, but you would need to consume huge quantities of soy to have a harmful effect (it gets a very bad press in the fitness and testesterone boosting world). Genistein, a naturally-occurring soy isoflavone, is reported to have numerous health benefits attributed to multiple biological functions. Studies have demonstrated that genistein has anti-diabetic effects its functions as an estrogen receptor agonist. Asian men have a low incidence of prostate cancer, and this is thought to be due to the higher intake of soy isoflavones.
Natto is an incredible fermented soy that should be in everyone's diet. Natto contain huge quantities of vitamin K2 which is very important fot healthy bones and teeth (and for reducing coronary calcium levels). Natto also contain 25mg of genistein per 100g. A genistein supplement typically contains 100-150mg. Soy milk contains around 15mg of genistein in a 300ml serving.
Life after prostate removal
Prostate removal is sadly very common.
- It’s normal to suffer from Erectile dysfunction and not have an erection many weeks after surgery.
- Men suffer from painful urination, difficulty urinating and incontinence. These problems typically go away several months after surgery.
- Men experience changes in orgasm and loss in fertility.
It's important to get to a healthy weight and to eat a good diet after surgery. Kegel exercises can help.