Prostate vs. Plants


All men should consider eating a prostate-healthy diet, which includes legumes (beans, peas, lentils, soy); certain vegetables (like garlic and onions); certain seeds (flax seeds); and the avoidance of refined grains, eggs, and poultry.

According to a recent review, “The most notable development in the [epidemic of prostate enlargement and lower urinary tract symptoms] is the recognition that modifiable lifestyle factors substantially influence the natural history of these conditions.” There are the factors associated with increased risk: obesity, diabetes, meat and fat. And some associated with decreased risk: exercise, moderate alcohol consumption, and vegetables.

Which vegetables? Garlic and onions appear to help—I like how they call them onion “users.” Cooked vegetables appear to work better than raw, so maybe it’s the carotenoids. And legumes were also found protective: peas, beans, and lentils.

And flax seeds appear so powerful that they may be used to both prevent and treat the condition. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial that found that flax phytonutrients not only alleviate BPH symptoms, but their efficacy appeared comparable to the drugs we spend a billion dollars on—without the side effects.

Flax seeds also work against prostate cancer. These researchers had men who were about to get their prostates removed eat three tablespoons of flax seeds a day for the few weeks before surgery. They were skeptical that they would observe any differences in tumor biology between the flax seed-fortified, diet-treated patients, and the controls, with such a short-term dietary intervention. But they found significantly lower cancer proliferation rates, and significantly higher rates of apoptotic cell death—the cancer cell suicide I’ve talked about. Thus, these findings suggest that a flax seed-supplemented, low-fat diet may have an effect on prostate cancer biology.

Just a few things have been found associated with significantly increased risk for the disease: refined grains, like white bread; also, eggs, and poultry—which appeared even worse than red meat or desserts!

“Although these data are observational and [more research is necessary], there is little, if any, downside to promotion of healthy lifestyle interventions – weight loss, exercise, decreasing meat and fat intakes, and increasing vegetable intake – among those with [prostate problems], particularly since these interventions possess proven benefits to overall and cardiovascular health.”

And how about before you’re a prostate patient? “Lifestyle habits associated with a decreased risk of developing clinical BPH are also highly likely to be beneficial in reducing the risk of erectile dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. For this reason, urologists should encourage all men to undertake a prostate-healthy lifestyle.”