As a man, I’m looking forward to a long and healthy life. But there are some aspects of aging that can be unpleasant. I’m talking about the real possibility of an enlarging prostate. The sad fact is that 50 percent of all men will experience an enlarged prostate—a condition known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)—by the time they hit their 60th birthday. That statistic shoots up to nearly 90 percent of men over age 80!
Even though BPH won’t make you more susceptible to prostate cancer, it’s no picnic. An enlarging prostate can squeeze the urethra and obstruct the normal flow of urine. That can cause all manner of problems—from dribbling to frequent urination (especially at night) to the urgent feeling that you have to go right now.
3 Simple Ways to Protect Against BPH and Minimize Existing Symptoms
1. Rye Grass Extract- (also known as Cernitin) contains a special compound, cyclic hydroxamic acid, that prevents the growth of prostate cells—making it an incredibly effective tool against BPH. In fact, European doctors have relied on rye grass extract for more than 35 years to treat the urinary symptoms of BPH.
One interesting clinical trial that recently landed on my desk pitted rye grass extract against the prostate remedy Tadenan. Among the 89 men who took part in the study, 78 percent of those taking rye extract experienced significant improvement in urinary flow rate as well as a decrease in residual urine and prostate volume compared to only 55 percent of those taking Tadenan.
Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study concluded that rye grass extract improved night-time urination in more than 68 percent of the men participating in the study as opposed to just 37 percent of the placebo group. And residual urine improved by nearly 55 percent compared with only 12 percent of the men taking the dummy pills. Clearly, rye grass extract is a powerful weapon against BPH!
2. Saw Palmetto- The secret to saw palmetto’s beneficial impact on prostate growth is its ability to inhibit the conversion of testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT is a hormone that stimulates prostate growth. In fact, saw palmetto is so effective that it is frequently prescribed by European doctors for BPH and other urinary problems.
3. Beta-Sitosterol- For my patients who are suffering from BPH, I also recommend a daily dose of beta-Sitosterol. Beta-Sitosterol is a plant sterol found in rice bran, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, pecans and soybeans that can boost the flow of urine. These effects may occur, in part, because beta-Sitosterol helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Several very large dietary intervention studies have shown that men who do not eat a lot of cholesterol-rich foods have a significantly lower risk of prostate disease. Beta-sitosterol may also have a direct impact on the prostate itself since phytosterols help inhibit the formation of DHT. The only drawback when you take Beta-Sitosterol is that it can interfere with the absorption of beta-carotene and vitamin E, resulting in lower blood levels of these nutrients. If you take Beta-Sitosterol, make sure to take a multivitamin every day to avoid a deficiency.
You can take each of these powerful nutrients separately or look for a BPH supplement that combines all the prostate protectors into one.
Even though the statistics make it seem like BPH is inevitable, it’s not. Yes, smoking, a diet that contains too much meat and too few vegetables, and drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can set you up for prostate problems and worse as you get older. But, adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a low-fat diet based on whole foods and a regular exercise routine can help protect your prostate. Add in prostate-specific nutrients and you can enjoy your golden years without those constant trips to the bathroom!
Moyad MA, et al. Educating patients about lifestyle modifications for prostate health. The American Journal of Medicine. 2008;121:S34-S42.
Shi R, et al. Effect of saw palmetto soft gel capsule on lower urinary tract symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a randomized trial in Shanghai, China. Journal of Urology. 2008;179:610-615.
Wilt T, et al. “Beta-sitosterols for benign prostatic hyperplasia.” Cochrane Database System Reviews. 2000; CD001043.
Dr. David J. Blyweiss began his medical career as a clinical pharmacist in South Florida prior to earning his medical degree from St. George's University School of Medicine in 1982.
His dual background allowed him to appreciate the relevance of conventional pharmaceutical/surgical based treatments in acute medical conditions, and recognize where these approaches fell short in treating the majority of patients who suffered from the chronic degenerative diseases of "western civilization origin."
Over the last twenty years, with the nutritional medical knowledge base expanding in the fields of nutrigenomics, protemics, and other related "orthomolecular" disciplines directed towards patients' biochemical individuality, Dr. Blyweiss became an early adherent and experienced practitioner of what would become known as "functional medicine." This knowledge allows him to effectively manage and alleviate the symptoms related to the most "difficult-to-treat" conditions by addressing the underlying causes, allowing the body to heal itself.
Dr. Blyweiss was one of the initial researchers doing the early work on chlorhexidine (Phisohex) while earning his first post graduate degree at Temple University School of Pharmacy. During medical school he worked with the WHO (World Health Organization) in vaccinating children in the islands of the Carribbean. He has traveled much of the world, most recently to Belize, Central America, Gabon, Africa, and Zagreb, Croatia working closely with teams of specialists to identify new plant life and natural products for possible human benefit as well as researchers and their stem cell transplantation teams. He has consulted for and created state-of-the-art nutritional supplements for multiple nutritional companies since 1999. He is currently in private practice in South Florida where he resides with his family.
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