The prostate is a sex gland made up of muscles, fibers, and lymph nodes. It is used, through its muscle contraction, for ejaculation. Its lymph nodes produce the molecules necessary for the survival of sperm. Unfortunately, the vast majority of men will have problems with inflammation of the prostate. Even today, symptoms are unrecognized or considered normal as we get older (without being an obligation; prevention methods exist). Indeed, inflammation of the prostate affects up to 50% of men aged 50 to 60, 60% of those aged 60 to 70, and up to 90% of those aged 80 and over.
A solution that comes from the Amerindians
When it comes to inflammation of the prostate, one well-known supplement is generally considered: saw palmetto. Saw palmetto, as the name suggests, is a small palm of the species Serenoa repens. It is the only such species. This small tree produces fruits rich in unique lipids that have anti-inflammatory effects specifically on the prostate. The Native Americans of the Florida Peninsula, known as the Seminoles, consumed these fruits for various health benefits. Their use for inflammation of the prostate made these fruits a member of the drug list in the United States until 1950. At that time, the authorities decided, for regulatory issues, to remove the only fruit that was present in the list of approved drugs.
A few years later, developments took place in Europe to develop extracts that could be used as a supplement. Note that saw palmetto fruits are not something that is appealing to the taste. They give a feel and taste close to that of soap.
For example, some supplements are developed because beneficial molecules, often unique to certain plants, such as saw palmetto, are not available in other types of food. Also, for serious health problems, supplements make it possible to make these molecules available at the dose necessary to allow potential effectiveness.
In some countries in Europe, these supplements are used as the first line of treatment. This is therefore the first solution offered before resorting to medication. Note, however, that it is important to consult a health practitioner if you have prostate issues in order to rule out a possible diagnosis of cancer.
Enlargement of the prostate is common from the age of 40. The prostate is initially the size of a walnut, or a ping-pong ball in young adults. From the age of 50, it will often be the size of a lemon and by age 70, the size of an orange. This increase in size also causes a reduction in the space available for the bladder, which is located just above, and the compression of the urethra which lets urine out. Therefore, the volume of the bladder is smaller and it is more difficult to empty it completely. This leads to more frequent urination, a weaker stream, and sometimes even incontinence.
It is important to recognize the symptoms that can be caused by an inflammation of the prostate. This is usually called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate.
Here are the main symptoms:
- Intermittent pain or urination
- Frequent need to urinate (frequent urination)
- Urgent or sudden need to urinate (urgent urination)
- Sexual problems (e.g.: painful ejaculation or erectile problems)
- Heaviness in the rectum (feeling of needing to have a bowel movement)
If you have any doubts, you should of course consult your doctor quickly, who will recommend you to a urologist if necessary. These symptoms are similar to the symptoms caused by prostate cancer.
Selenium and lycopene
Why talk about selenium and lycopene in an article concerning the prostate? Because these are two molecules found in food that have been linked to prostate health. Some studies have linked their consumption to reduced risk of prostate-related diseases. Selenium is a trace element; a molecule essential to human health, but a small quantity of which is sufficient. Unfortunately, it is also found very little in food. The foods highest in selenium are Brazil nuts and seafood.
As for lycopene, it is a powerful antioxidant, responsible for the red color of many fruits and vegetables. This natural pigment, from the carotenoid family, is present in greater quantities in tomatoes and watermelon. While beneficial in reducing the risk of prostate-associated diseases, know, ladies, that it would likely reduce the risk of ovarian cancer as well. In addition, the level of lycopene in the bloodstream as we age is a good indicator of the risk of cardiovascular disease. Note that this molecule is not very bioavailable and it will be better adsorbed from cooked tomato preparations.
A complete product
There is only one product on the market that can give you saw palmetto, lycopene, selenium and the powerful antioxidants of olive polyphenols (from the exclusive Provitol® Complex). Vitoli® Prostate can be used for treatment or prevention. It can be taken at the same time as usual medication (N.B.: it is always important to consult your pharmacist). Here are the health claims permitted by Health Canada for Vitoli® Prostate:
- Helps maintain a healthy prostate.
- Used in Herbal Medicine to help relieve urological symptoms associated with mild to moderate benign prostatic hyperplasia.
- Provides antioxidants.
Other suggested articles:
- The Prostate (Article 3): Two Recent Studies
- Men’s Health As They Age: Andropause?
- Chronic Stress; the Immune System and Weight Gain
- Crowe-White KM, Phillips TA, Ellis AC. Lycopene and cognitive function. J Nutr Sci. 2019;8:e20. Published 2019 May 29.
- Grabowska M , Wawrzyniak D , Rolle K , et al. Let food be your medicine: nutraceutical properties of lycopene. Food Funct. 2019;10(6):3090‐3102.
- Hackshaw-McGeagh LE, Perry RE, Leach VA, Qandil S, Jeffreys M, Martin RM, Lane JA. 2015. A systematic review of dietary, nutritional, and physical activity interventions for the prevention of prostate cancer progression and mortality. Cancer Causes Control. 2015 Nov;26(11):1521-50. Review.
- Li et Xu, 2014. Meta-analysis of the association between dietary lycopene intake and ovarian cancer risk in postmenopausal women. Scientific Report. 2014. 4 : 4885.
- Petyaev IM. Lycopene Deficiency in Ageing and Cardiovascular Disease. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:3218605.