STRAIGHT TALK ON YOUR HEALTH AND LIFE.
Nighttime Bathroom Trips
I'm 47 years old and have recently started to get up during the night to urinate, I'm told I have a slightly enlarged prostate. I'm not so bothered about having to wake up, but I worry about this escalating into something more serious. How can I prevent that?
Prostate enlargement is probably the most common physical problem affecting men your age and older. Known medically as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), prostate enlargement affects nearly 30 percent of 50-year-old men, 50 percent of 60-year-olds, and almost 80 percent of men over 70.
When the prostate enlarges, it pinches off the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. Thus, the symptoms of BPH involve changes in urinary habits: increased frequency of urination (especially at night), inability to empty the bladder, dribbling, and feeling a need to urinate and then having difficulty doing so.
BPH may be a precursor to more serious prostate problems, including kidney and bladder damage, as well as prostate cancer. Because of the potential for serious complications, you should have your symptoms diagnosed by a physician if they continue.
You might be able to prevent BPH from becoming a more serious problem and also reverse your symptoms by doing the following:
* Take care of your overall health. Eat a balanced diet, including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, get plenty of rest and exercise, and reduce stress.
* Avoid caffeine and tobacco, which irritate the prostate. Greatly reduce your intake of sweet foods, foods high in fat and cholesterol (beef and whole milk), and refined carbohydrates (white bread and white-flour pastas). All these can negate the beneficial effects of zinc and vitamins C and E, which are important to prostate health. Cut back on fat. A high-fat diet is a risk factor in BPH; researchers believe that the low rate of BPH among Asian men is because their diets are lower in fat than the diets of American men. Also avoid beer. It increases prolactin, a hormone that indirectly increases the production of dihydrotestosterone, another hormone that causes prostate cells to multiply excessively. This cell multiplication is thought to be the underlying cause of prostate enlargement.
* Eat fats that have been shown to lessen the risk of BPH, particularly those found in cold-water fish (salmon, sardines, and mackerel). Cold-water fish are rich in omega-3 oils, which are healthy fats for the prostate. You can also get omega-3s by adding flaxseed oil to your diet; add it to salads or vegetables but don't cook with it. (For more information on getting omega-3s, see "A Fish Tale" on page no.) Also, eat raw pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. If your diet is lacking in omega-3 oils or foods rich in zinc, consider taking supplements of each. Take omega-3s in the daily amount recommended on the label of the product, and take 30 mg of zinc picolinate daily. If you take zinc supplements, take 1 mg of copper with a different meal than when you take the zinc, because zinc can deplete copper levels.
* Take a full daily complement of vitamins and minerals, including the following: vitamins C (3,000 to 6,000 mg as ester C or ascorbate), A or beta carotene 10,000 to 25,000 IU), E (400 IU), and [B.sub.6] (50 to 100 mg). Antioxidants have a widespread protective effect against aging, and I would include them in any program to prevent the diseases of aging. Vitamins E and [B.sub.6] specifically reduce prolactin levels. Also take 200 mcg of selenium every day; selenium is proven to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
* Take the herb saw palmetto berry (Serenoa repens), 160 mg a day. It has been shown in multiple studies to prevent the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, and does so more effectively than the pharmaceutical drug Proscar. This effect may be enhanced by combining it with the herb pygeum (Pygeum africanus) at a dose of 10 mg a day.
* Empty the prostate by ejaculating at least three times a week. The evidence on this is mixed; however, I believe that because many diseases are a result of restriction or obstruction of body fluids, this recommendation makes good sense physiologically.
* Massage your prostate daily by doing pubococcygeus (PC) muscle contractions. You do this exercise by contracting your pelvic muscles as you would to stop the flow of urine. Do at least 10 to 15 contractions a day. Hold each for two to four seconds. Regular practice not only improves prostate health, but contracting the PC during lovemaking can prolong and intensify orgasm.
Toughen Up, Man--Eat Beef
Commercials during NFL games promote eating beef, saying that men need it for more protein and iron. They imply that it will give us more power. I work hard at staying fit, but I've come to believe that beef is unhealthy. Have I missed something?
The beef industry continues to prey on men with this misinformation. It is true that beef is an excellent source of protein and iron, but both can be obtained from other sources that do not have the health risks of meat. Most beef cattle are fed grains and injected with the growth hormone stilbestrol. This combination causes them to store stearic acid, a type of fat that contributes to the elevation of LDL cholesterol, one of the leading risk factors for heart disease. A high intake of animal protein has also been linked to high blood pressure, kidney disease (including kidney stones), and osteoporosis (weak bones). The risk of osteoporosis is increased because the acid in beef causes an increase in the excretion of calcium.
Unless you can find lean beef from cattle that have been range-fed on grasslands, I recommend that you obtain protein from eggs, fish (especially cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel), free-range poultry, sesame seeds, and fermented soybean products such as tempeh. (Be sure to supplement your diet with zinc when you're eating soy so you can offset the high copper content in soybeans). All these are complete proteins, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids. Both bee pollen and spirulina (blue-green algae) are also excellent sources of complete protein.
Iron deficiency among men is rare--in fact, iron toxicity is more common--and we don't need to eat beef to prevent it. Iron can be found in any of the high-protein foods mentioned above, as well as in green vegetables, whole grains, raisins, dates, and figs. As a general rule, men should avoid consuming foods enriched with iron or taking supplemental iron, since too much iron is implicated in heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, liver disorders, and cancer. Although not enriched with it, red meat is high in bioavailable iron, and excessive consumption can lead to an accumulation of the mineral in the body. Symptoms of excess iron include fatigue, low immunity, anemia, lack of mental clarity, and a gray or bronze tint to the skin. If you're concerned about your iron level, ask your doctor to perform a blood test.
I think I have early stages of arthritis. My joints are stiff a lot of the time. I'm 53 years old. Can you tell me how to keep this from getting worse, or better yet, how to cure it?
I see many men who have early-stage arthritis or who are candidates for developing this common condition. It's not surprising, since diet can be a significant contributing factor and many men pay little attention to their diets. But there are things you can do to get relief and possibly cure this condition.
First, eliminate possible allergenic foods. Common ones are dairy products, wheat-flour products (breads and pastas), and nightshade plants (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and bell peppers). You may suspect that you are allergic to any other food that you feel repeated cravings for. Exclude these from your diet for at least a month and then add them back to your diet, one by one, at least three to four days apart. If your pain lessens after eliminating all of them, and then you experience greater pain after reintroducing a particular one, then it's likely that you are allergic to that food.
Next, go on a short juice and/or raw foods diet. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., at his Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Ariz., successfully treats arthritis by putting patients on vegetable and fruit juice fasts. I recommend that you eat only raw vegetables and fruits and drink juices (mainly vegetable, like carrot, celery, and cucumber) for three days. This will eliminate excess calcium, mineral deposits, and acids from the joints. You should not go on longer fasts, or frequent fasts, without supervision by a physician trained in fasting.
Also, take the supplement glucosamine sulfate, which has been found to repair damaged cartilage and grow new cartilage. Take 500 mg three times a day. It may take as many as eight weeks to get results.
Finally, learn to do visualizations and positive affirmations, which are powerful tools for using the mind to change the physical body. Visualize your joints feeling fluid and pain-free. If you have knee stiffness, say, "My knee is flexible and able to move freely. I can move gracefully and easily."
No Time For My Kids
My wife and I both work and we feel guilty about not spending enough time with our three young kids. Do you have any suggestions for how we might maximize our limited time with them?
Good parenting is one of life's biggest challenges but potentially one of the most rewarding. The same principle holds true in parenting as in marriage: In order to love another you need to help that person love himself or herself better. Your goal as a parent is to provide your children with the confidence that they are loved. It is an enormous responsibility that requires two essential ingredients--time and consistency. Here are some suggestions:
* Listen to your children--take the time to tune in to what they're feeling, and talk about those emotions with them.
* Have dinners together as often as possible, without TV, newspapers, or other distractions.
* Be affectionate.
* Regularly schedule time alone with each of your children--reading a bedtime story, helping with homework, or playing a game.
* On the weekend, designate a regularly scheduled time for the family to share a fun activity and, possibly, to worship together at a church or synagogue.
* Plan at least one family vacation each year.
Some people say that it's not the amount of time you spend with your kids, it's the quality of the time you spend with them. Undoubtedly, this can sometimes be true, but other times, it may be a rationalization and an attempt at easing guilt. If I'm a child, I might have trouble reconciling my parents' actions with their words. If they say that I am the most important thing in their lives, I might wonder why they spend so little time with me and so much time working. Surely, however, every family is different. A number of families require both parents (or a single parent) to work in order to meet minimal expenses. Only each parent knows whether he or she is making as full a commitment as possible to his or her children. If you feel that you truly are making that full commitment--given your family's financial circumstances or other obligations--then do the things I mention and know that you are doing the best you can as a parent.
Holistic physician Rob Ivker tells men how to prevent prostate enlargement, whether they need beef for strength, how to deal with early stage arthritis, and how to give children the time they need,
Write To Us Send your questions to: Men's Health Natural Health 70 Lincoln Street 5th Floor Boston, MA 02111
Robert Ivker, D.O., is the author of Sinus Survival (Tarcher/Putnam, 1995) and co-author of Thriving: The Holistic Guide to Optimal Health for Men (Crown, 1997). Ivker is president of the American Holistic Medical Association and a clinical instructor in the departments of family medicine and otolaryngology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Weider Publications
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