Prostate Health

April 29, 2024

In today’s show, we’ll cover where the prostate is located, what it’s role is in the body, and the three most common health struggles men might experience with their prostate gland as they age. The conversation will include symptoms to look out for, how to test for these main health issues, and nutrition, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations to support the health of the prostate for prevention and to improve some of the uncomfortable symptoms.

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KARA: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. We're a company specializing in life changing nutrition education and counseling. I'm Kara Carper, a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist. I remember many years ago, I was talking with a male client. His sleep was being disrupted because he needed to get up, get out of bed up to five times each night to go to the bathroom.

Now you all know what it's like to even need to get up once or twice to use the bathroom, right? It's just disruptive to your night's sleep, even if you're usually a good sleeper. So he found out at an appointment with his doctor that he had an enlarged prostate, which is very, very common as men get older.

An enlarged prostate can lead to a variety of symptoms. And a common one is that increased urge to urinate. So we'll share later in the podcast the simple recommendations that ended up helping him to improve his symptoms. And ultimately, he was able to reduce his frequent nightly trips to the bathroom from three to five down to one to two.

MELANIE: Awesome. I'll bet he loved you.

KARA: He was so grateful. I'm telling you. So my cohost is Melanie Beasley. I'm very pleased to be recording again with Mel. Melanie's a Licensed and Registered Dietitian, and she has a wealth of knowledge, many years of experience, and Melanie's just an all around great and very warm person.

MELANIE: Aw, I love you, Kara. So you mentioned an enlarged prostate, which is very common, especially as men are aging. And we're going to be talking about a condition called benign prosthetic hyperplasia or BPH. This is when the prostate is enlarged, but there's no cancer. And it's important to know that BPH is not related to prostate cancer. They're completely different conditions. So that's not what we're touching on.

KARA: We'll also be discussing prostate cancer during our podcast. The American Cancer Society found that last year, in 2023, almost 300,000 men in the United States were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death for men in the U.S.

And just as an FYI, that's second to skin cancer as number one. So although the numbers of men diagnosed with prostate cancer have been increasing, we want you to know that this is not all bad news. Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer survive. It's one of the most treatable cancers, especially when it's caught in an early stage.

MELANIE: Yep. So it's just like so many other things you want to early detection. And another condition that happens to some men is when their prostate becomes inflamed, this is called prostatitis. We've talked about prostate health before, but thought it was time to do an entire show on this condition.

And if you have a family member or friend struggling with health of their prostate, we want you to share this podcast and possibly this would be very helpful to them, right?

Overviewing basics of the prostate + its role in the body

KARA: Absolutely. We're going to start with some basics on where the prostate's located, what the role is in the body. And as Melanie and I started discussing already, prostate issues usually fall under one of three categories, being the benign, also known as non-cancerous, benign prostatic hyperplasia; that typically results in an enlarged prostate.

The second one is prostate cancer. And the third is prostatitis. And that was the inflamed prostate diagnosis. So there are ways to test for these conditions as well. So we'll definitely be covering some testing options later in the show.

MELANIE: Well, because we have our nutritionist and our dietitian hats on, which we just can't help; that's just who we are; we're going to tie in nutrition, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations to support prostate health and improve some of those uncomfortable symptoms.

KARA: Okay, so let's get into what is the prostate, where is it located, what's it for. The prostate gland is very small. It's about the size of a walnut and it's located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It should be noted that it also wraps around the upper part of the urethra and the urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. So because of the location of the prostate, if a man is having issues such as enlarged prostate, chances are it's affecting either the urination or sexual function or both.

MELANIE: Yep. Yep. And you might be wondering what is the role of the prostate gland? Well, the prostate's primary function is to produce seminal fluid. Seminal fluid is a fluid that transports sperm. So this explains how the prostate plays a key role in production.

KARA: Okay. So now that everyone's aware of where the prostate's located and what its main role is, we want to talk about the most common issue that men will have. We'll go over that first. And that's the non-cancerous condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia. We'll probably refer to the acronym as BPH.

MELANIE: Thank you.

KARA: So I don't have to repeat that a dozen times. Think of this as being an enlarged or overgrown prostate. Here's an interesting statistic I came across. About 9 out of 10 men in the United States will experience an enlargement of the prostate by the time they're 85 years old.

MELANIE: Wow. That's…

KARA: It's a big number.

MELANIE: Nine out of 10, but more than half of the men with an enlarged prostate never develop any symptoms. Those are the lucky ones. Having an enlarged prostate, it's really, it's not associated with the risk of prostate cancer. So it's entirely possible to have an enlarged prostate with zero symptoms.

KARA: And I had shared about a male client that I recall from years ago, the one that was getting up to urinate several times each night and his sleep was highly disrupted. Well, so that's how having an enlarged prostate affected him, was that frequent urge to urinate. And for any science geeks out there, there is a medical term for needing to get up frequently at night to urinate. It's called nocturia. You maybe you've even been to the doctor.

MELANIE: Sounds lovely. It's not.

KARA: Absolutely. You don't want nocturia. But we're going to give a lot of tips today on how to prevent this enlargement of the prostate.

MELANIE: Yep. And other symptoms that men can have when their prostate is enlarged are difficulty starting and maintaining a steady stream of urine, a weak urine stream or there can be leaking and dribbling of urine and not being able to empty the bladder fully and completely.

So when these things are working as they should, the bladder should be completely void of urine after urinating and there should be a feeling of completion. Well, if someone still feels the urge to go to the bathroom after just going, that can be a sign of an enlarged prostate and which in turn can cause sexual dysfunction, both erectile dysfunction and problems with ejaculation. So those are other symptoms as well.

KARA: Over time, a prostate that has become very enlarged can cause more severe symptoms. So if the bladder can no longer push urine past the prostate, which is obstructing it, that can cause something called urinary retention. It just means a man is unable to urinate. Not only is that painful and uncomfortable, but that would be considered a medical emergency.

KARA: Not being able to urinate could potentially cause bladder. or urinary tract infections, maybe a kidney infection, even further damage to the kidneys, resulting like worst case scenario, kidney failure. So this is nothing to be taken lightly is urinary obstruction.

MELANIE: Yes. And it's just miserable. I had a client that's had that and he was hospitalized several times for kidney infections. So it's just utterly miserable. And it's important to understand the wide range of symptoms when it comes to having an enlarged prostate. If you have any of the symptoms we just talked about, even if they just seem like a slight inconvenience, it's worth making an appointment with a doctor. Not being able to urinate should be an urgent care or an emergency visit.

And another symptom that should be addressed as urgent is if you see blood in the urine. And if your symptoms are not an emergency, it's still just a good idea to talk with your primary care doctor, as always, to make sure this is not a serious problem.

KARA: And if you did go to your primary care doctor and spoke with them and they determined that things needed more investigating, they would be able to refer you to a specialist. And often they would refer you to a urologist, who’s specialized in this area and could do some more testing or more treatment as needed.

Who is at risk for prostate issues?

MELANIE: So our listeners, are you wondering who's at risk of having prostate issues? Well, it's a great question. And like we mentioned, 9 men who live to be 85 are estimated to have an enlarged prostate. So age is the number one risk factor. And Kara will list off some of the most common risk factors for men to have an enlarged prostate.

KARA: So according to the National Institutes of Health, there is also a genetic link. So a family history when it comes to that BPH or enlarged prostate. There are other medical conditions that increase risk factor: obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, erectile dysfunction; all of those increase that risk of the prostate enlarging.

MELANIE: Yeah. And lastly, this often goes hand in hand with medical conditions that you just listed, but research has found that lack of physical activity and a diet that is high in sugar, and low in fresh produce like organic vegetables and fruit also increases that risk. So like we always say eat those vegetables.

KARA: I know. We had to bring in the sugar and the vegetables. We did. And, you know, Melanie, we keep hearing that obesity rates in our country are going up. The Centers for Disease Control reported in January of this year, 2024, 40 percent of Americans over the age of 20 are considered obese, and now this is a step above the overweight category, so that percentage also goes up with age. 44 percent of Americans over age 40 are obese, so that's almost half of our population.

MELANIE: Yeah, we want to go back to being a healthier, healthier country. And there are plenty of other podcasts that we've hosted that do a deep dive into why the obesity rate is so high and what people can do to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way while not feeling hungry or deprived. So if you're feeling like, oh, where do I go from here? Just search, weight loss in our, podcast in the search engine on Nutritional Weight and Wellness.

Check Out More Resources on Weight Loss

More on the detriment of processed food

In general, the processed foods in our country have really taken over our food supply and our shelves at the supermarkets. Because we are bombarded with ultra processed foods in packages and coming from restaurants, and the average person is getting way too much sugar, flour, and those factory fats.

KARA: And you know, when someone has a diet that consists of processed foods, a lot of pizza, burgers, maybe it's bread, pasta, could be beer. Well, naturally the diet just ends up being too low in those fresh organic vegetables and fruits. It ends up being too low in things like high quality grass fed animal proteins. And also that kind of diet would be lacking in those natural healing oils and fats.

MELANIE: We need that so much. And I'm going to pick on the sugary coffee drinks. So I think a lot of times you can drink something and think it's just a beverage. But if you look at the amount of sugar in these beverages that people are drinking all the time that replaces the water, wow, it's a load of sugar.

KARA: Yeah, absolutely. We've talked about that in other podcasts too, just some of the coffee shop drinks or even the coffee drinks that you can buy at the grocery store.


KARA: You know, flip those over. How much sugar really is in those? And I even called around, I think I mentioned this before, to all the coffeehouses locally here and asked them with both the alternative milks if they had any sugar in them: oat milk, coconut milk, almond milk. And they all had added sugar.

KARA: So think that's a great point because folks might be going to the coffee shop thinking they're doing something healthier by getting a non-dairy, beverage like the soy or the oat or the almond. But keep in mind, you know, there's often the vanilla flavorings or, and that's coming from sugar.

MELANIE: Well, even just the plain milks had sugar. So that was interesting to me. I thought you can't, unless you order a black coffee or you're doing whole milk, it's going to have sugar added.

KARA: Yep.


KARA: It is sad. Good for people to know though, we're here to educate.


Practical food & supplement tips to support a healthy prostate

KARA: Let's give some practical tips on foods that have been highlighted in research journals that support healthy prostate, and can even help prevent the risk of having an enlarged prostate.

The first one is called lycopene. That's an antioxidant. You may have heard of it. It's found in tomatoes and especially cooked tomatoes. Another very important mineral for prostate is zinc. Now oysters are high in zinc, but so is red meat and nuts like cashews and almonds, and then pumpkin seeds. These also contain zinc, they contain antioxidants, and plant sterols. So those are very supportive to the prostate gland.

MELANIE: Yeah, and those nuts and seeds are great for hormone health. So, it's a win win. We also found research on a plant called saw palmetto. And that was really promising. Saw palmetto is one of the most studied plants, especially for prostate health.

And some studies show that the saw palmetto is just as effective in treating symptoms of an enlarged prostate as some prescription medications. But with the side effects of these prescription medications, there's often loss of libido and other studies on saw palmetto show that it may shrink the size of an enlarged prostate. So that's a very promising natural remedy.

KARA: Yeah. Saw palmetto. There's a lot of research on that and a good one for men to know about if they're struggling with the prostate health. So let's get back to the client that I was talking about earlier, who was able to reduce his urination from three to five times per night down to one to two.

MELANIE: What were some of the supplements that you recommended with saw palmetto for that client that you mentioned earlier?

KARA: Great question. So I recommended that he take a supplement called Prostate Pro. And he diligently purchased the supplement and took three capsules each day as directed. I did also recommend 3,000 milligrams of omega-3 fish oil, and we'll talk more about how prostate issues stem from inflammation and omega-3s are very anti-inflammatory. So, after just one month, things had greatly improved for this gentleman. He was so relieved.

MELANIE: I’m sure you did some nutrition?

KARA: We did nutrition.

MELANIE: Was there a lot that you had to change with his diet?

KARA: Not too much actually. I mean, I think we worked on increasing his high quality protein. And we discussed organic vegetables for getting that fiber and all the important nutrients in the vegetables. He was a fairly good eater. I think, you know, age was one risk factor that had generated the enlarged prostate. So he just needed a little bit of extra support. And this Prostate Pro supplement is just amazing. That's what really helped him to decrease his trips to the bathroom.

MELANIE: Great. Great. Well, the Prostate Pro is really an amazing supplement. It contains saw palmetto, which we discussed, also zinc, lycopene, plus vitamin D. And another plant in Prostate Pro is called stinging nettle. And like saw palmetto, stinging nettle has been shown to work as effectively as some prostate medications.

KARA: The formula Prostate Pro has been around for many years. It's really a tried and true remedy for so many men.

We've talked about enlarged prostate today, but we do want to kind of switch gears and switch over to talking about prostate cancer. The statistic that I had shared was this past year, almost 300,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. And because it is the second leading cause of death among men in the U.S., this, this is a very relevant topic.

MELANIE: I think so. And the information can sound depressing, but there's more to the story. 98 percent of men survive for 10 years after being diagnosed and 96 percent of men survive for 15 years after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. So that early catch is so important, but let's go to break and then we'll talk some more when we get back.

KARA: Sounds good. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition and our topic today is prostate health. That small walnut sized prostate gland in men, which is located near the bladder and the rectum, tends to cause issues, especially as men are getting older. After the age of 50, there's a higher likelihood of enlarged prostate, inflamed prostate and prostate cancer.

So during our podcast today, we're sharing a couple of testimonials from clients and Nutritional Weight and Wellness customers who have used Prostate Pro formula with great success. Stay tuned for one of those stories. We'll be right back.


MELANIE: Welcome back. You're listening to our Dishing Up Nutrition weekly podcast.

We're discussing prostate health, the root cause of any issue in the male prostate gland stem from inflammation. Prostate Pro is an anti-inflammatory formula that has ingredients backed by research to reduce symptoms of enlarged prostate, reduce size of the enlarged prostate, and lessen inflammation of the prostate that could be a risk factor for any prostate issues, including cancer.

More testimonials on success with diet & supplement support

And Kara will share two testimonials from clients who greatly benefited from this product, but I want to budge in and talk a little bit about a client I had that had urgency, he was up five or six times at night, he had an enlarged prostate, and one of the key nutritional factors that made a big difference in his urgency was to go gluten free, caffeine free, and artificial sweetener free.

So he was chewing a lot of gum and had artificial sweeteners. We removed that. We removed gluten from his diet, and then we removed caffeine, including his chocolate. And he was able to sleep through the night and he was having such work issues with urgency during meetings. So he just got his quality of life back. And those were some simple dietary changes. And of course I had him move into real food, only real food, like you mentioned with your client.

KARA: Right. Right. Melanie, I'm glad you shared that information about your client and what you recommended that he do to kind of switch things up: going gluten free, caffeine free, because we know that food first is our foundational message.


KARA: And so, you know, you can't out supplement your way of a poor diet.

MELANIE: Yeah. And it was just, it's the best part of our job is getting people relief so that they could go about their life.

KARA: Especially these types of circumstances where he was affected at night and in meetings and so forth. So sometimes, you know, we do recommend supplements to supplement the foundational food plan that you just discussed. So one particular client that really benefited from taking three Prostate Pro was quoted as saying, “Every man is different. For me, it seems to empty the bladder better, no more nighttime trips to the bathroom. It started helping me the first week and after a month. The drip drip is almost gone. It helps you go to the bathroom when you want to, meaning that you don't feel like your bladder needs to release.”

MELANIE: That's so great.

KARA: What a huge relief for this gentleman and then we had someone else write in about her husband taking Prostate Pro and she said, “After taking it for one month, my husband's nighttime bathroom visits went from three to four down to one per night.”

MELANIE: Oh, I bet he loved her.

KARA: That's great.

Prostate cancer: risk factors & nutrition tips

MELANIE: Well you know, circling back to prostate cancer, it's not to say any of this topic on prostate cancer should be ignored or taken lightly. We just want to reassure you listeners that getting a prognosis of prostate cancer is one of the most treatable conditions, especially when it's caught in the early stages.

KARA: And that's really the ultimate goal with prostate cancer is that early detection.

MELANIE: A hundred percent.

KARA: So here's the thing. When men who have low risk early stage prostate cancers, the ones that are not considered aggressive or likely to spread, these men usually don't have any symptoms.

MELANIE: Yeah. Well, all the more reason to get those checkups, right; to get checked. And statistics in the past couple of decades have shown that death rates are increasing from prostate cancer. So what does that mean? The deaths are mostly happening from the fast growing aggressive prostate cancers that can spread quickly. And you may be wondering what's the best route for prevention? Well, what do you think?

KARA: Yeah. Well, I mean, knowing risk factors for prostate cancer, I really think that is the most important thing. We talked about some of the risk factors, and having an enlarged prostate, the risk factors are similar to being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

So it helps if you can just ask around. I mean, if you have the possibility to find out about your father, your grandfather, if you have, or had a family member who did have prostate cancer, then your risk is increased. In fact, if a close family member has or had prostate cancer, a man is two to three times more likely to get it. And we had talked a lot about age as a risk factor.

MELANIE: Yup, age is.

KARA: So about 60 percent of prostate cancer is occurring in men that are over the age of 65.

MELANIE: Yup. And you know, another risk factor is being black or African ancestry also increases your risk factor, and this population is also at a greater risk for prostate cancer forming before the age of 50. So all the more reason to be proactive in your doctor's appointments and you know, there's other genetic components that increase the risk and that's like Lynch syndrome, having the BRCA gene. These genes are also associated with prostate cancer. So do we want everyone running out there getting tested?

Maybe, maybe not. But if you have a family history of breast cancer, prostate cancer, it's a thought, that you might want to get tested to see if you have one of the BRCA genes.

KARA: Or, if you're of black or African ancestry with that higher risk, I would encourage folks to also kind of, you know, get ahead of the game.

MELANIE: That early screening. And of course, start making some proactive changes in your nutrition to feel like you're doing all that you can.

KARA: And that, doing all that you can with nutrition goes along with some of the other risk factors of prostate cancer are being obese, having heart disease or type two diabetes. And so we could reckon that people could benefit from improving their diet if they're struggling with obesity, heart disease, or type two diabetes.

MELANIE: Cause if you get a mile high above that, It just means that there's an unhealthy lifestyle that's going to increase your risk of all diseases. Right? So once you start addressing all of these with a healthier lifestyle, the way that you're eating, you're going to decrease the risk for all disease, including prostate cancer.

Are symptoms of enlarged prostate the same as prostate cancer?

Well, Kara, are the symptoms the same when someone has either an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer? I think that's something our listeners would like to know.

KARA: Well, you can't be too careful, you know, when it comes to the prostate. And once a man has any symptoms, it really is wise to see a doctor just to find out what's going on. All the symptoms we've been talking about, the difficulties to start urinating, weaker interrupted flow, maybe that frequent urination, especially at night, pain or burning during urination and blood in the urine or blood in the semen. Those are absolutely reasons to see a doctor.

MELANIE: Yep. Any change, any change at all that's abnormal. Always go get it checked out because prostate cancer may have some other symptoms like pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs, pain in the testicles, loss of appetite, sudden weight loss, erectile dysfunction, or painful ejaculation, or loss of bladder or bowel; any real change in your health that seems abnormal, new, different, it's good to get checked out.

Reduce inflammation nutritionally for prostate conditions

Well, early in the show, we said that if someone's going to have an issue with their prostate, it will probably fall into one of the three categories, either enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, or prostatitis.

And we haven't talked much about prostatitis yet, although the symptoms and risk factors are similar to the enlarged prostate or prostate cancer.

KARA: And so, with an enlarged prostate, remember that that number one risk factor is age. Enlarged prostate typically doesn't occur until men are 50 or older. So, if you're a man with an enlarged prostate and you're under the age of 50, chances are you're having problems because of prostatitis, which again is that inflammation of the prostate.

MELANIE: Well, I like to remind my clients that any term that ends in four letters, “it is”, means inflammation. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Tonsillitis: inflammation of the tonsil, and so forth. So, prostatitis is an inflamed prostate.

So you might be wondering, how does this relate to nutrition? And Kara, I loved what you said earlier about the risk factors for prostate issues is diseases that are definitely related to what you're eating. So let's talk a little bit more about what we should be eating and what we should be addressing.

KARA: Right. Right. Because again, you know, being overweight or obese, having heart disease or higher blood sugars, prediabetes or type two diabetes, those all put men at an increased risk of enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, inflamed prostate. But we also want to address those other root causes, you know?

MELANIE: Yeah, for sure. And so if you are eating a food, highly processed foods come from a package or a box, you're eating a lot of sugary foods, you have a big sweet tooth, or maybe you're eating a lot of chips and bread that convert rapidly to sugar, this is going to cause systemic overall inflammation. So, that little prostate gland is going to take a big hit and over time it's going to become inflamed.

KARA: And all of the research that we did addressing the podcast today showed that, you know, anything related to poor prostate health, really it had, the prostate has already become inflamed.


KARA: So you need to reduce that inflammation throughout the body.

MELANIE: And the way to do that is to eat real foods that come from nature, not a box, not a bag. So we're talking grass fed meats, wild caught fish, healthy fats like butter and olive oil and avocado oil and ghee and you know, organic duck fat, things like that.

And then also throwing in a lot of antioxidant power to decrease that, inflammation. And that's going to be in the forms of organic fruits and vegetables, highly colored fruits and vegetables. The lycopene and the tomatoes is going to be a big win. The zinc and the meat is a big win. And so circling in around the grocery store into the refrigerator section is going to be your best bet for overall prostate health. Would you agree?

KARA: I would absolutely agree. And you know, when you talk about organic vegetables and fruits, I think that's particularly important for someone that's at risk for cancer. Because we know that the highly sprayed vegetables and fruits have been linked to cancer.


KARA: And so we really want to be eating clean produce as much as possible.

MELANIE: Just cutting out the chemicals, cutting out the pesticides give your body a chance because it's so busy fighting all the onslaught of chemicals, food dyes and sugar. It's really really hard to fight off a cancer cell. So I love that. And the farmers markets are getting ready to come into Minnesota right now and we're excited. Always excited.

KARA: Such a great time to be out, you know, buying produce that's finally going to be fresh and local after living in Minnesota and having everything shipped in.

MELANIE: Yep. Really exciting. And so when you open your refrigerator, listeners, and you look, what do you see? Do you see lots of fruits and vegetables of various colors? And are you seeing that you've got some meat that you're cooking and you've got some, free range eggs? Because that is going to be the best bet overall for prostate health.

Remove the gluten, remove the sugar, remove the caffeine, and you'd be surprised. Artificial sweeteners are also a big trigger. So, you'd be surprised how the body can, when you give it what it needs, how it can begin to heal.

KARA: Some of those artificial sweeteners; I know you shared that your client who was struggling with frequent trips to the bathroom at night and he was, was he a gum chewer?

MELANIE: He was a gum chewer. So a lot of aspartame.

Yeah. Aspartame, sucralose. So just be diligent label readers.

MELANIE: Acesulfame K is another one.

KARA: Yes. Acesulfame potassium. Yeah. Those are kind of the three biggies to, you know, keep on your radar. And if you see that on a package or a label, you definitely don't want to buy that.

MELANIE: Run away.

KARA: Don't drink it. Don't eat it.

MELANIE: Put it down. So our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

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