According to nutritional therapy, diet and supplements can effectively treat an enlarged prostate. High cholesterol levels have been linked with a larger than normal prostate and its accompanying symptoms. A diet low in fat, especially saturated fat, can help lower cholesterol. A vegetarian diet, eating no meat, poultry, or seafood, can be one way to achieve an overall reduction in dietary fat and saturated fat. According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians typically have lower total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the so-called "bad cholesterol") levels than meat-eaters.
Diet can have a direct effect on the health of the prostate as well. Certain foods may irritate the prostate, causing symptoms to worsen. Some of the foods to avoid include:
- coffee (both caffeinated and decaffeinated)
- other caffeine sources (soda, chocolate, and tea)
- red pepper
Sometimes food allergies may be the source of some irritation in the urinary tract, thus exacerbating the problem of frequent urination. Potential allergens should be investigated and avoided.
Zinc disables the enzyme that helps produce dihydrotestosterone and is, therefore, commonly recommended to men with prostate problems. Researchers have shown that patients can decrease their enlarged prostate symptoms by adding zinc to their diet. (Care should be taken with zinc supplementation, though, as large doses of zinc decrease the body's absorption of copper and may lead to copper deficiencies; check with your practitioner before taking zinc.)
As an alternative to zinc supplements, try pumpkin seeds. They provide a lot of the minerals, as well as essential fatty acids, which are also beneficial to men who have enlarged prostates.
Other good sources of essential fatty acids include cold-pressed unrefined vegetable oils such as flaxseed oil. (Sunflower and sesame oil are also decent sources.) Vitamin B6 supplements are typically prescribed along with zinc.
To boost the levels of dietary zinc, a naturopathic physician may recommend eating raw pumpkin seeds rather than taking a supplement, as the pumpkin seeds may contain other beneficial substances as well.