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The Healthy Prostate Diet
Eat these foods and supplements to your diet to keep your "twigs and berries" working properly.

There's only one time when shrinkage down there is a good thing, and that's when your prostate is enlarged. As men age, their prostate (the gland that produces the fluid the carries the sperm) tends to grown bigger and as a result, it can cause urination and bladder problems. In fact, it may have you running to the bathroom as much as a woman who is pregnant. Luckily there are things that you can do to keep the prostate from growing and protect it from cancer. The first is to exercise on a regular basis since inactivity seems to worsen symptoms. The second is developing a good nutrition plan. Read on to find out the foods and supplements you should be consuming to keep everything relatively sizeable.

Decrease Size with Saw Palmetto
The most popular of the prostate helping herbs is saw palmetto, known to the scientific community as Serenoa repens. Recent research has confirmed saw palmetto's prostate prowess. Chinese researchers reported in the September 2007 issue of the International Journal of Oncology that saw palmetto inhibited the growth of prostate cancer tumor cells in mice. Along similar lines but done on human cells, Swedish researchers reported in the March/April 2007 issue of Anticancer Research that saw palmetto had an antiproliferative effect on cancer cells. These studies confirm previous findings. More specifically, a Spanish study that had men take 160 mg of saw palmetto extract twice a day for a year, in which the men experience a decline in benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) "the medical term for an enlarged prostate" symptoms. And the herb may also have a synergetic effect with other herbs as Eastern European studies have found. When 160 mg of saw palmetto is paired with 120 mg of stinging nettle and both are taken twice a day, a decrease in BPH symptoms were experienced. There are also studies that suggest that saw palmetto improves the quality of life for those with BPH and that there seems to be no drug-interaction problems. In addition, previous research has found that a combination of saw palmetto and pygeum lessen BPH symptoms.

Relieve the Pressure with Pygeum
Pygeum can help reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. The result: fewer trips to the men's room. Why? Because this supplement that comes from the bark of an evergreen tree found in the mountains of central and southern Africa has been found to contain not one, but three types of compounds that relieve the symptoms of prostate enlargement. The most important of the three is beta-sitosterol, which interferes with the formation of substances that cause inflammation and swelling in the prostate. The other two compounds are pentacyclic terpenes, which also reduce swelling, and ferulic esters, which combat enlargement. Recently, three studies have closely studied these compounds and how they inhibit the proliferation of cells that promote prostate growth and affect bladder function. Two separate groups of French researchers found that Pygeum stopped prostate cell growth in the lab and in the body. While researchers in the United Kingdom and six European countries followed 2,351 patients suffering from BPH. Some were treating it with prescription medications (tamsulosin, finasteride, or alpha-blockers) and others were treating it with supplementation ( Pygeum africanum or Serenoa repens). Their results, reported in the January 2007 issue of the journal of European Urology, found significant improvements in 43% of patients taking supplements compared to 57% of those on finasteride and 68% on alpha-blockers. Proving that natural means lessen the symptoms of BPH and cut down on the amount of trips to the bathroom.

Don't Shun Soy
Soy isn't just a super food for women anymore, according to a large-scale study of Japanese men. Researchers found that increasing intake of soy isoflavones significantly reduced the risk of prostate cancer by as much as 50 percent. The study, published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, recruited 43,509 Japanese men with a generally high soy isoflavone intake and followed them for five years. During that time, 527 men were newly diagnosed with prostate cancer. In fact, the highest intake of soy isoflavones (at least 32.8 milligrams of genistein per day) had a 40 percent reduced risk compared to those with the lowest intake (less than 13.2 milligrams per day). In addition, a recent study of Seventh-Day Adventist men in California, conducted by Loma Linda University, found that those who consumed soymilk at least once per day had a 70% reduced risk of developing prostate cancer. An earlier study found similar results for Japanese men living in Hawaii who ate tofu. How can soy have such a profound effect on prostate cancer? Soy isoflavones may reduce testosterone levels and inhibit an enzyme involved in the metabolism of testosterone. It's this hormone that may increase prostate cancer risk. But before you start reaching for your wife's or girlfriend's "made for her" soy-fortified foods, know this: these results occur in men eating whole soy foods, such as edamame and miso soup. Considering that over 500,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed worldwide every year, eating soy foods could be a potent step in prevention.

Drink Red Wine
When it comes to wining and dining, pick up a bottle of cabernet to put her in the mood and do your prostate some good. Researchers have found that men who drink an average of four to seven glasses of red wine per week are only 52% as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who do not drink red wine, reports the June 2007 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch. Researchers in Seattle collected information about many factors that might influence the risk of prostate cancer in men between ages 40 and 64, including alcohol consumption. By evaluating each type of alcoholic beverage independently, researchers were able to link wine drinking to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. And when white wine was compared with red, red had the most benefit. Even low amounts seemed to help, and for every additional glass of red wine per week, risk declined by 6%. Why red wine? Much of the speculation focuses on compounds--including various flavonoids and resveratrol--missing from other alcoholic beverages. These components have antioxidant properties, and some appear to counterbalance androgens, the male hormones that stimulate the prostate. In fact, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have found that when male mice were fed resveratrol, the mice showed an 87 percent reduction in their risk of developing prostate tumors. You see, a glass of wine with dinner may provide unexpected benefits.

Get Your Fruits and Vegetables
You know that you should be eating seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily, but are you? You may want to hustle down to your produce department tout suite after reading this. Johns Hopkins researchers reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that foods containing nutrients with antioxidant properties or that influence cell growth and differentiation may reduce the risk of prostate enlargement. More specifically, consumption of fruit and vegetables rich in beta-carotene (such as carrots and sweet potatoes), lutein (such as corn, mango and leafy vegetables), or vitamin C (such as kiwi and oranges) were found to help keep your prostate in check. They also found that men who ate a lot of foods that are high in vitamin C were less likely to have an enlarged prostate.

Pop or Pound Pomegranates
The pomegranate has been shown to possess strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And while you would think the pom should be included in the above category, it is unlike most fruits and vegetables. This is because it has a very short season; many fruits and vegetables are available year around thanks to worldwide transport. Luckily, food and supplement makers have been able to harness this fruit's tasty goodness in the form of juice and extracts. And this may actually be better. University of Wisconsin at Madison researchers reported in the journal Cell Cycle that pomegranate fruit extract inhibited cell growth and caused cell death of potentially cancerous prostate cells. If you decide to drink pomegranate juice instead of popping a pill, make sure its label says, "100 percent fruit juice."

Make Friends with Fish
Unless you have been hiding in a proverbial nutrition news cave, you have probably heard that omega-3 fatty acids do a body good. The benefits are numerous and it seems that we can add another benefit to the list--slow prostate cancer growth. Research done in mice and reported in the July 2, 2007, issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and certain types of fish could potentially improve the prognosis of men. The study's authors from Wake Forest University concluded that a change in diet could mean the difference between dying from prostate cancer and surviving it. Adding fish to your diet doesn't seem like an awful idea when you consider that the disease is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and is a leading cause of death in men in the United States, and population studies have suggested that consumption of fish or fish oil reduces prostate cancer incidence. In the current study, the mice were fed varying levels of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Both are "essential" fatty acids, which means the body needs them for proper cell function but cannot produce them. Many vegetable oils contain omega-6 PUFA. Fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Nutritionists recommend that people consume equal proportions of omega-3 and omega-6 PUFA. However, in current western diets, the proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 is between 30 and 50 to one. Don't like fish? Then you may want to take fish oil supplements. A diet rich in soy, fish, fruits, vegetables and red wine supported by supplemental pomegranate fruit extract, pygeum and saw palmetto is a good way to keep your prostate healthy and your physique ripped.