Prostate enlargement is found in 50 percent of American men in their sixties, and up to 90 percent of men in their seventies and eighties. Worse, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death by cancer in men, with about 80 percent of all cases of prostate cancer occurring in men over sixty-five. Even though the prostate seems to be an older man’s health problem, these imbalances begin much earlier in life. The good news is that most prostate problems can be prevented by making simple lifestyle and dietary changes to restore balance.
Symptoms of Prostate Enlargement or Imbalance
Excessive urination at night, a weak urine stream, stopping and starting while urinating, a feeling that the bladder is never empty, difficulty in starting to urinate, and dribbling at the end of urination. If a man has these symptoms, he should consult his doctor immediately. Often, when the symptoms are mild, the physician will say, “Wait and watch.” Actually, from an Ayurvedic perspective, this is the perfect time to see advice as there is still an opportunity to correct the imbalances that have caused the problem in the first place. Of course, aging is the main etiological factor, or cause of the problem, however, Ayurveda also identifies the lifestyle or dietary factors that act as a trigger, and if unchecked, can turn a mild problem into a serious one.
Causes of Prostate Issues
One is overuse of Shukra Dhatu, or overuse of the sexual organs. Another is lack of adequate fluids in the body, due to not drinking enough water during the day. Habitually suppressing the natural urge to urinate also can, over time, cause the urine to become more concentrated and, in turn, irritates the prostate.
Alcohol or caffeinated beverages can also cause an imbalance. Another cause is taking too many over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants. These can cause the muscle that controls urine flow to tighten, making urination difficult.
One’s job can be a source of imbalance. Sitting for long periods of time without taking a break or stretching, can create an imbalance in the reproductive area of the body. Not getting daily exercise, or eating a diet that creates impurities (ama) in the body, are other causes of prostate problems.
Finally, if you don’t have a healthy daily routine, for instance if you watch TV late at night or for other reasons don’t sleep enough, or if you don’t eat meals on time or your routine is very irregular can cause ama to build up and disturb the immune system.
Ama is a sticky impurity that is created when digestion is weak and food is not digested completely. The aging process can also weaken digestion, however, typically the increase in ama, as mentioned before, is created by the poor dietary and lifestyle habits such as eating foods that are old and heavy, or eating meals at irregular times of the day. These types of foods, allows ama to eventually mix with nutrient fluid (Rasa Dhatu) and even the blood (Rakta Dhatu) which can overload the urine, the body’s purification system. Over time, this becomes a fertile ground for bacteria, and can create additional problems of urinary tract infections, which also impact the prostate. Weakened immunity also creates a problem for the prostate. Eating a diet high in processed foods and sugar weakens the immune system as well as lack of 7-8 hours of sleep. Stress can also have an impact on Prostate health. Overuse of the mind can also create problems.
Right Diet and Lifestyles
We are all uniquely made, therefore, we need to understand the right diet and lifestyles to maintain proper health and balance. Some general recommendations are as follows:
- Favor a diet of warm, cooked, easily-digestible, light-yet-nourishing foods is best. Organic vegetables cooked in mild spices, whole grains, light proteins such as mung dhal soups, and sweet, juicy fruits will nourish the body.
- Cooking with mild spices that improve digestion, burn away ama, but don’t create heat in the blood tissue include a mixture of fennel, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and small amounts of turmeric. Small amounts of black pepper and small amounts of fresh ginger also are healthy for maintaining prostate health and balance. Most of us know by now that turmeric is seen as anti-inflammatory, and intensifies the anti-cancer activity of other phytonutrients. Ginger and turmeric both have been found to have cancer-preventing qualities. Turmeric is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, and has more DNA-protective qualities than Vitamin E and beta carotene.
- Black pepper is another common spice whose effects in the diet have been well documented. Research published in Cancer Letter in the August 16, 1993 issue reported that 20 days after adding black pepper to the diet, the subjects’ liver detoxification systems were strengthened, aiding in purification of the blood tissue and enhancing the overall immune system.
- Squashes cooked with these mild spices are excellent for prostate health. The best squashes for prostate health are the types that are white inside, such as zucchini.
- Asparagus is another vegetable that is recommended, because it helps support balanced hormones. Daikon is a mild type of white radish root that purifies the urine. Because it is spicy, it should be cooked with other vegetables more as a seasoning than as the main vegetable. You could combine it with squashes such as zucchini, or shred it and add it to mung dhal soup.
- Light dairy products such as milk, lassi (a drink made with one part freshly-made yogurt and three parts water), and occasional fresh cheeses such as panir or cottage cheese should be included in the diet, but avoid the hard-to-digest aged cheeses, such as Monterey Jack, mozzarella, cheddar, brie, blue cheese, and Gruyère.
- Quinoa is an excellent grain as it is rich in zinc. Zinc supports seminal health, and because seminal health and prostate health are connected, zinc also supports prostate health.
- Favor whole, fresh foods as much as possible. Canned, frozen, packaged and processed foods, as well as leftovers are known as lifeless foods and are hard to digest. Lifeless, hard to digest foods increase ama.
Daily routines help to remove ama, keep hormones balanced and aide in digestion. Some Ayurvedic daily routine recommendations include:
- Eat meals at the same time every day.
- Eat your largest meal at lunch time when the sun is highest in the sky, which is when your digestive fire is strongest.
- Take time to eat nourishing, appetizing meals. Eating on the run increases ama and harms digestion.
- Be sure to exercise regularly, and be sure that the exercise you choose is suitable for your age and body type.
- Daily ayurvedic massage, called abhyanga, is another important part of the daily routine. You can do it in the morning to help improve circulation and digestion, remove ama from the body, tone the muscles, and increase energy. Use warm oil such as sesame, coconut, and/or almond.
- Avoid too much mental pressure, such as a job that requires you to work long hours. Turn all blue light devices off no later than 9:00 p.m.
- Take time to enjoy life, and to maintain healthy relationships with your family and friends.
- Meditation helps to reduce stress, increase inner happiness and balances the mind, body, emotions which helps to eliminate mental and physical ama. This doesn’t mean that you have to sit for hours. Simple steps to begin a meditation practice:
- Sit in a warm, quiet place.
- Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath.
- Every time your mind begins to wonder, come back to your breath.
So, whether you have symptoms of prostate irregularity or just want to avoid having any problems, adopting these recommendations will be taking a giant step toward overall health, not just for a man’s prostate. These changes won’t happen overnight, so be patient. Studies show that it takes at least 90 days to create a habit. Meeting with a Registered Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant who can guide you in a personal dietary and lifestyle program to restore balance to the prostate and your mind, body and emotions is recommended.
The sole purpose of this article is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively.