An enlarged prostate is a common problem in men, especially as they mature into their riper years. Fortunately there are many strategies they can employ to improve the symptoms of BPH and protect against any further development of the problem. One of these strategies is altering the diet in line with research showing the benefits of certain food groups for men with BPH.
Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms are collectively known as ‘LUTS’ in medical jargon. These include the symptoms of BPH (a benign, i.e. non-cancerous, enlarged prostate). They’re no fun, these symptoms, including problems urinating, bladder discomfort, difficulties with sexual function, etc. You’ll be pleased to know, therefore, that a few tweaks to your daily diet are likely to improve things at least a little.
A study in the Journal of Nutrition  found that higher dietary intake of carotenoids and vitamin C were associated with a decreased risk of LUTS. Here’s an interesting thing – the protective effect wasn’t seen with supplements, so popping vitamin pills just won’t cut any prostatic mustard here: you have to do the munching for yourself.
What are carotenoids?
Carotenoids are the colourful stuff found in plants such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, mangos, apricots, peaches, pears, pineapple, nectarines and papaya. You’ll maybe have heard of them as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Our bodies use them as antioxidants and they are good for protecting the eyes as well as the prostate.
Get your finger(s) on the pulse(s)
An 11-year study done in Italy  showed that men whose diet favoured processed cereals and some types of meat whilst being low in vegetables and pulses were suffering more from BPH symptoms. The research involved nearly 3,000 men and went into great detail in terms of their diet. Citrus fruit was also found to be helpful in alleviating severity of symptoms.
Choose from: oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, clementines, satsumas, tangelos, ugli fruit, kumquats, limes and lemons
Having a diet that is high in vegetables and low in saturated fat appears to be a sensible way to minimise the problems associated with BPH symptoms. The saturated fats you want to avoid are those from fatty meat and heavily processed meat products, so shun the salami, pork sausages and bacon, and keep lamb and beef intake moderate. Healthy fats are found in such foods as:
• Unsalted, unroasted nuts • Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds • Avocadoes • Flaxseed oil • Salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, tuna
Nuts to the prostate
During puberty, the prostate gland is about the size of an almond. It then grows to around the size of a walnut in adulthood. All well and good. Inflammatory pressures from diet add to the general inflammatory processes that cause the prostate to enlarge later in life. Swapping to some of the healthy fats found in nuts instead of the less healthy (more inflammatory) fats found in red meat and highly processed meat products helps reduce some of the inflammatory pressure on your prostate.
More Veg please
Vegetables are a very smart food group to embrace with vigour at this time, even if you have previously found them to be uninspiring. Four or more servings of vegetables daily can bring your symptoms down considerably, according to the research, and this is so easily done. Two vegetables in some soup at lunchtime and another two served with your meal in the evening – that’s it done.
They fill you up, are not difficult to cook, and, assuming you don’t slather them in butter or deep fry them, are not going to make you fat. This is important because the fatter you are, the worse your BPH symptoms will be. Put a full colour spectrum of vegetables on your daily plate and reap the rewards on your waistline as well as through your urinary tract.
TIP: Don’t overcook your vegetables as many vitamins and nutrients, especially vitamin C, are degraded by heat. Also don’t leave your fruit and veg hanging around – they lose their nutrients as they become limp and mouldy.
Reduce your alcohol intake
Finally, just to cheer you further as you contemplate your plant-based, ‘nutty’ and delicious future diet, moderate alcohol consumption (no more than 2 drinks per day) is associated with less BPH risk. Enjoy.
 Maserejian NM et al. Journal of Nutrition 2011; 141: 267-73
 Bravi BF et al. Urology 2006; 67: 73-79
by Dr. Jen Tan, courtesy of A. Vogel