As a man ages, he becomes prone to developing an enlarged prostate. A condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate and can lead to bothersome lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). When a male is young, the prostate is small. However, during early puberty the gland doubles in size. Then, around 25 years of age, the prostate begins its second growth phase. For most men it continues growing for the rest of their lives. When this unchecked prostate tissue growth becomes too much, the prostate can start encroaching on the urethra and blocking the bladder’s flow of urine. BPH treatment is necessary when BPH symptoms become bothersome enough that lifestyle changes become necessary. Men have likely had to deal with prostatic hyperplasia and BPH symptoms such as increased urinary frequency, starting and stopping, dribbling, a weak urine stream, urinary urgency, nocturia, etc. for many millennia. Luckily, we live in a time when BPH relief can be realized through effective BPH treatment. BPH can even be cured permanently if the right treatment is chosen.
There are many forms of BPH relief available to men for the treatment of an enlarged prostate. Some men have found that certain foods, supplements, or lifestyle changes can help their BPH symptoms, whereas other men have discovered that prescription medication is preferred for combatting LUTS caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia. Yet other men have optioned for outpatient or inpatient surgery to find BPH relief. There are many options for prostate tissue enlargement when watchful waiting (observation of mild symptoms without significant action) is being practiced, but those options narrow to prescription medication and surgery as BPH symptoms increase.
Foods for BPH Relief
Eating certain foods and consuming some beverages may influence the degree to which benign prostatic hyperplasia affects an individual, including the number and severity of BPH symptoms and if those symptoms will worsen or not over time. The consumption of too many rich, starchy or refined foods, in addition to red meat, can lead to becoming overweight and put one at a higher risk for numerous diseases, including BPH. Drinking too much alcohol or adding too much caffeine, nicotine or artificial sweeteners could also lead to BPH issues. Since caffeine is a diuretic and stimulates the bladder, it may be best to limit the amount of coffee when BPH is suspected.1
Maintaining a healthy diet and weight can help with an enlarged prostate and its resulting BPH. Consuming fiber and zinc-rich foods, soy, dark yellow, orange, and red fruits and vegetables can help with BPH symptoms. Also, beverages such as green tea (chemoprotective properties), tomato juice (lycopene), and fruit juices (vitamin C) have the potential to help some men who are experiencing BPH symptoms. These additions to a diet are about as close to a natural cure for BPH as one can get if BPH is mild.2,7
A 4-year study of 2000 Chinese men aged 65 years or older whose diets included consuming large amounts of fruits and vegetables, especially dark and leafy vegetables and tomatoes (>50g/1000kcal/day), found a significantly reduced risk of LUTS progression by 37.2% and risk of symptomatic BPH by 34.3% after 4 years compared with the moderate group who consumed (25-50g/1000kcal/day) of fruits and dark, leafy vegetables. These men experienced a reduced number of BPH symptoms caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia, a lower incidence of LUTS advancement, and a lower incidence of BPH to begin with.3
It’s hypothesized that oxidative damage of the prostate may contribute to the onset of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Prostate tissue may be especially susceptible to oxidative stress, particularly in the case of chronic prostate inflammation. With fruits and vegetables containing high concentrations of antioxidants such as lycopene, selenium, beta-carotene, lutein, flavonoids, anthocyanins, vitamins A, C, E, and more, they may change the inflammatory narrative enough to induce a health benefit regarding BPH. It’s a possibility that positive dietary habits or adjustments can moderate not only the hormonally controlled prostate growth but also the increased smooth muscle tone that causes BPH.3
Supplements for BPH Relief
Some men may benefit from taking supplements for mild BPH symptoms, but there is inconclusive evidence that these natural remedies work. Supplements aren’t researched or regulated by the FDA like over-the-counter or prescription medications, so men often have to rely on word of mouth as to what may work to help with their benign prostatic hyperplasia and its symptoms. Supplements, no matter how natural they may be, can create interactions with other medications or produce unwanted side effects, so it is always best to check with a doctor before taking any supplements for helping with BPH symptoms. Ten of the more common supplements that some men claim help with BPH symptoms include:4,5,6
- Saw palmetto
- Stinging Nettle
- Rye Grass Pollen
- Beta Sitosterol / Soy
- Green Tea
Lifestyle Changes for BPH Relief
Men can incorporate the lifestyle modifications below into their daily routines to aid in dealing with an enlarged prostate and BPH symptoms. For some men, this may be all that is needed to eliminate bothersome LUTS symptoms brought on by benign prostatic hyperplasia for a while or even altogether. For others, next steps may need to be taken.1,8
- Decreasing the intake of alcohol and caffeine
- Exercising on a regular and consistent basis
- Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles through Kegel exercises
- A diet rich in fiber can aid with regular bowel movements which help with BPH symptoms
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy, dark vegetables and tomatoes
- Incorporating an overall low-fat diet
- Limiting the number of spicy foods
- Avoiding antihistamines and decongestants like Benadryl and pseudoephedrine which can worsen BPH symptoms or cause urinary retention
- Training the bladder so urination becomes less frequent
- Emptying the bladder as much as possible at each restroom break. Even going a second time (double voiding) right after if the bladder didn’t empty the first time.
- Restricting fluid intake for a few hours before sleep, traveling, or before special occasions when restroom facilities aren’t as easily accessible
Medications for BPH Relief
When watchful waiting, food, supplements, and lifestyle changes are no longer providing BPH relief for an enlarged prostate, prescription medication is typically the next step in the BPH treatment process if surgery is not yet desired. Some men are ok with taking medication, despite possible side effects, but some men aren’t.
If opening the urethra further, to allow better urine flow, is the desired outcome to address benign prostatic hyperplasia, then alpha-blockers such as Tamsulosin (Flomax), Alfuzosin (Uroxatral), or Silodosin (Rapaflo) can be effective because they relax the muscles of the bladder and enlarged prostate, which in turn makes it easier to urinate.
Shrinking the prostate is another way to find relief from BPH symptoms. 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs) such as Finasteride (Propecia and Proscar) or Dutasteride (Avodart) work to decrease the size of the enlarged prostate over time, allowing for better urine flow.
A combination of alpha-blockers and 5-ARIs is also recommended by some doctors for men who need both immediate relief (alpha-blockers) and desire long-term prostate shrinkage.
Surgery for BPH Relief
When foods, supplements, lifestyle changes, and medications are no longer providing the BPH relief desired for an enlarged prostate, it may be time to consider surgery. Many very effective surgical procedures can provide BPH symptom relief.
Some BPH surgeries for an enlarged prostate such as Urolift and prostate artery embolization (PAE)can be performed in an office or clinic setting, whereas procedures such as a robotic-assisted simple prostatectomy (RASP) or a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) must be performed in a hospital setting. Surgical procedures for addressing benign prostatic hyperplasia are becoming more advanced and fewer side effects are being produced with the newer procedures. Aquablation is one such surgical procedure for addressing LUTS brought on by BPH. It is less than a decade old and is already turning heads as to its effectiveness and relative lack of side effects.
Surgical BPH treatment is necessary when urinary symptoms become bothersome or dangerous enough to warrant the change from other strategies to bring about BPH relief for an enlarged prostate. BPH can greatly affect a person’s life and lifestyle; the sooner relief is realized, the quicker a man can get on with life again. Surgical relief from BPH symptoms often leads to immediate improvement, but side effects from surgery can take a few weeks or longer to recede.
Relief from benign prostatic hyperplasia can be a real comfort to men who are suffering daily from LUTS, brought on by BPH. Whether choosing healthy foods, trying natural supplements, implementing lifestyle changes, taking prescribed medication, or electing to undergo a surgical procedure, there are many ways to find BPH relief for an enlarged prostate. If severe BPH is left untreated for too long, complete urine retention can occur, necessitating a catheter, or the bladder can sustain permanent damage and lead to incontinence issues.
We are living in a world of innovation that keeps making nearly everything possible. With the right dietary, lifestyle, medication, or surgical choices, a man can completely do away with bothersome BPH symptoms brought on by a prostate that enlarges beyond normal.
3. Liu ZM, Wong CKM, Chan D, Tse LA, Yip B, Wong SY. Fruit and Vegetable Intake in Relation to Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms and Erectile Dysfunction Among Southern Chinese Elderly Men: A 4-Year Prospective Study of Mr OS Hong Kong. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Jan;95(4):e2557. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000002557. PMID: 26825896; PMCID: PMC5291566.
All surgical treatments have inherent and associated side effects. Individual’s outcomes may depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to patient characteristics, disease characteristics and/or surgeon experience. The most common side effects are mild and transient and may include mild pain or difficulty when urinating, discomfort in the pelvis, blood in the urine, inability to empty the bladder or a frequent and/or urgent need to urinate, and bladder or urinary tract infection. Other risks include ejaculatory dysfunction and a low risk of injury to the urethra or rectum where the devices gain access to the body for treatment. Further, there may be other risks as in other urological surgery, such as anesthesia risk or the risk of infection, including the potential transmission of blood borne pathogens. For more information about potential side effects and risks associated with Aquablation therapy for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) treatment, speak with your urologist or surgeon. Prior to using our products, please review the Instructions for Use, Operator’s Manual or User Manual, as applicable, and any accompanying documentation for a complete listing of indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions and potential adverse events. No claim is made that the AquaBeam Robotic System will cure any medical condition, or entirely eliminate the diseased entity. Repeated treatment or alternative therapies may sometimes be required.