International Men’s Day 2020

When considering men’s wellness, it’s important to take into account a variety of factors, including stress management, sleep hygiene, the cardiovascular system, exercise support, as well as prostate and erectile health—all interconnected to a man’s well-being. But when society encourages men to be tough in the face of hardship, they become statistically much less inclined than women to actively seek their own wellness, leaving men stuck in unhealthy patterns of coping. from Traditional Medicinals

Thursday 19th November is International Men’s Day. It is a special day dedicated to giving a voice to men’s worries, rights and highlighting their importance in our societies across the world. This year the focus is on men’s health. This is emphasized because men are more likely to die younger than women, are less likely to seek medical help and are put at more fatal risk as well. 

Until recently, pre-COVID, cancer was one of the main health worries across the Western world. According to the NHS, men are 16% more likely to develop cancer and, shockingly, nearly 40% more likely to die from it[1]. One of the most common cancers affecting men today is prostate cancer. It is estimated that around 24% of men are currently suffering from this illness[1]

What is the Prostate?

The prostate is a hidden gland that doesn’t get much attention. The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. Its important job is to create the fluid called semen that surrounds the sperm during ejaculation. This fluid “protects and energises the sperm” on its journey to fertilise the egg[2]. Because of it’s proximity to organs, if the prostate gland is inflamed or irritated, it can affect it’s surrounding area. For instance, those suffering from an enlarged prostate can then go on to have erectile dysfunction, problems urinating or pelvic pain[3].

Foods to Benefit the Prostate

Luckily, prostate health can be managed by good nutrition and exercise before uncomfortable symptoms arise. Eating well has time and time again shown to be our best chance of avoiding health issues no matter how big or small. The list of food below has shown to be beneficial to prostate health.

Cruciferous Veg

Cruciferous vegetables are always cited as top anti-disease foods. Cruciferous vegetables have been studied vigorously and the results show that these powerful vegetables can detoxify the body.

Green foods into smoothies
Seeing green: a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables can ease inflammation.

Most green vegetables have anti-cancer properties that are believed to prevent cancer growths in the body. Make sure eating spinach, cabbage and broccoli every day. Broccoli, in particular, is deemed one of the best superfoods for prostate health[4].

Seed & Nuts

Nuts and seeds are a great way to fill up on plant-based proteins if you don’t fancy filling up on tofu, tempeh or mycoproteins. Whilst eating meat is the easiest way to make sure you’re body gets the right amount of body-building and mending protein, it is important to make some swaps with natural plant-based alternatives. There is a growing consensus with health professionals that a diet filled with natural foods such as nuts, seeds, vegetables and whole grains can help to reduce the risk of cancer[5].

Walnuts are one of the excellent sources of plant-based proteins to eat which are recommended by health professionals.

Nuts and seeds contain both mono- and polyunsaturated fats (the healthy kinds). The combination of fats and protein increases the likelihood of satiety and therefore we may be less inclined to snack. Portion-wise, it is best to savvy when eating nuts and seeds as they are high in fat, even though these are ‘good fats’. A handful of nuts or tablespoon of seeds is probably enough at one time. Walnuts and almonds contain vitamin E and calcium and pumpkin seeds are high in zinc all of which is helpful to keep a healthy prostate[6].

There have been statements from the state and health and diet sectors that too much meat, especially red meat such as bacon or sausages, can be carcinogenic to the body[7].

Avoiding too much red meat such as sausages is beneficial for a healthy prostate

Berries

Berries are little powerhouses of goodness. Most berries are high in vitamin C, which has been touted as one important component in the fight against cancer[8]. Berries, because of their eye-catching colours, are filled with antioxidants that fight ‘free radicals’ in the body[6].

Eating bright coloured berries boosts your antioxidants levels.

Berries are easily incorporated into the diet whether they are frozen or fresh. Include in smoothies, in baking and as a snack to get the maximum boost from your berries.

Cooked Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain a carotenoid called lycopene[9]. Lycopene has been sung as a cancer curer, however, it is more likely that high doses of lycopene are more a preventative step to cancer, rather than the cure. Lycopene does contain many antioxidants that can damage free radicals which can lead to cancer as well as diminishing the growth of cancer cells in the body[10].

Ready to cook? Eating a Mediterranean diet, which is generally based on healthy fats and, importantly, cooked tomatoes!

Tomatoes are the most popular way to include lycopene in the diet. However, cooking them increases the lycopene content more than 50%[11]. A UK study in 2014  found that eating at least 10 portions of tomatoes a week reduced the risk of prostate cancer by 20%[12]!

Tomatoes are routinely found in lists of top foods for men.

Herbal Tea

Green tea, specifically, is a long-standing health food. It is rich in nutrients and anti-inflammatories and is the second most popular drink in the world[13]. To enjoy green tea, it is important not to brew it too long, otherwise, it becomes bitter. Green tea can be complemented with other herbs and fruits such as mint or lemon and apple. You can also get green tea powder to whizz into smoothies or put into baking if you’re not into tea.

Matcha green tea lattes are becoming more popular

Drinking herbal teas is advisable as their caffeine levels are relatively small or non-existent. This is important because the prostate is in such proximity to the bladder. If the prostate is enlarged or inflamed it will push against the bladder to make you feel the urge to pee. Green tea, in particular, reduces inflammation of the prostate and improves symptoms of BPH[13] Drinking 3 to 4 cups of green tea a day could also reduce the likelihood of urinary tract infections (UTI)[13]. It is advised that caffeine and alcohol are avoided as much as you can.

Chamomile tea could help reduce cancer growths in the body.

Chamomile tea is a type of tea which helps eliminate free radicals in the body. Chamomile has been used as a medicine for potentially thousands of years and can even play a part in reducing cancer risks. The medicinal plant showed in scientific studies that it can significantly reduce the growth of cancer cells[14].

If you’re not a fan of herbal tea, creating your own anti-inflammatory drinks may be for you. Add a chunk of ginger and honey to hot water or if you like a milky drink, warm milk and add a teaspoon of turmeric and some honey to make a golden latte.

Men’s Health Matters

It is important to take your health seriously. Looking after yourself and taking time to enjoy life are essential steps to contentedness. Raising awareness of men’s health problems is one small step of International Men’s Day’s contribution to society. Celebrate the day with your favourite men and thank them for their roles in your life.

International Men's Day poster
One of the posters from International Men’s Day supporting male health.

Prostate health is a big problem for men today. Try eating healthier, eating locally where possible and exercising to treat your body like the temple it is.

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Disclaimer: Please note these are only guidelines for a healthier diet in regards to prostate health and are by no means a cure or an alternative for medical care. If you have worries or symptoms regarding prostate health, contact your doctor.