The Prostate Gland is present only in men. It is one of the organs in the urinary and reproductive system of the body. It is a male sex gland made up of a cluster of smaller glands which surround the urethra and a portion of the bladder.
This mysterious gland is small, doughnut shaped and situated at the base of the bladder. It causes more grief for men than just about any other part of their bodies. Although approximately 50% of Australian men may experience some type of prostate problem at some stage of their lives, until it plays up, men rarely give their prostate a second thought. It’s main function is during the sexual act – when ejaculation occurs, it secrets an alkaline fluid that forms part of the semen. This fluid nourishes the semen and provides volume to the semen, along with other seminal fluids.
Walnut sized in young men, enlargement of the prostate is common 50 years and over – approximately four in ten men over the age of 60 have it. Enlargement occurs when the glands and connective tissues surrounding the urethra thicken and block urine flow.
1. Aging. As the body ages, harmless nodules develop in the tissues of the prostate, which accumulate and gradually enlarge the gland. Eventually the gland becomes large enough to “press” or “strangle” the urethra and obstruct urination.
2. Low levels of zinc. The tissues of prostate gland normally have high levels of zinc. Zinc levels gradually decrease as you grow older.
3. Over 50 testosterone levels start decreasing. This causes an increase in the quantity of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which over produces prostate cells.
4. Postural faults and obesity could also affect prostate health. A heavy body and prolonged periods of sitting put more pressure on the pelvic region and perineum, resulting in congestion in and around the prostate.
5. Constipation could also be a cause. Hardened faeces and an overloaded rectum cause excessive pressure on the prostate gland.
1. The first obvious one is difficulty in passing urine. This is due to compression of the urethra by the prostate blocking the flow. You may strain or have to wait a while before being able to go.
2. A weak flow of urine starts, then stops. The stream is narrower and less powerful.
3. Involuntary leakage – there may be a tendency to dribble urine, much like incontinence.
4. One may find it difficult to stop urination once it is started.
5. You visit the bathroom more often. There may be a frequent need or urge to urinate nightly two or three times as well as during the day.
6. Even after passing urine, you are still left with the feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder.
7. Due to prolonged obstruction, the small veins in the bladder and urethra stretch. When you strain to urinate, the veins may burst, causing blood to enter the urine. Painful urination, called Dysuria, may occur.
8. There could be a mild pain in the lower back, hips and legs and occasional impotency.
Basically, symptoms are very similar to those experienced by women who have weak pelvic floor muscles. Both reflect a weakness in the muscles around the genitals, bladder and reproductive organs as well as a weakness around the perineum or Root Chakra/Mulabhanda.
DIET & VITAMIN SUPPORT
The importance of the trace mineral zinc in maintaining prostate health is paramount. Zinc is essential for prostate gland and male hormone function. It is known as the “Male mineral” and is required to produce sperm and seminal fluid. A deficiency may cause impotency and infertility. It has now been well established that there is a link between prostate health and the zinc content in the prostate tissues.
• Maintain a low-fat diet and watch your cholesterol levels.
• Include Omega-6 and Omega-3’s that help regulate nervous system function.
• Bake, steam, stir-fry or make salads instead of deep-frying.
• Choose low fat over full cream milk and make it organic.
• Avoid fat-filled salad dressings and rich sauces that agitate the liver and heart.
• Drink eight glasses of water daily – Green Tea is also beneficial for the prostate.
• Increase your daily intake of fibrous foods, fresh vegetables and fruits, particularly red and red-orange ones, and increase your Vitamin C, A, B6, E, cod liver oil and flaxseed oils.
• Check whether your intake of Vitamin D is adequate – this includes down-time to rest in the sun and allow your mind to unravel with meditation, music or power naps to help reduce your stress levels. Stress is a major contributor to imbalances on all levels of being (body, mind, emotional and spiritual).
• Avoid spicy (in Yogic Ayurvedic terms, “rajasic”) foods that can increase body heat, digestive fire and agitate the emotions.
• Watermelon seeds have natural diuretic properties which help prevent excess build-up of urine;
• Avoid or minimize alcohol intake. Try not drinking for a few days and then re-introduce it – after just a day you should notice whether it makes the urine symptoms better or worse. This is because alcohol constricts the bladder neck, causes dehydration and hampers the flow of urination that can lead to a restless mind and body.
• Avoid decongestants and antihistamines that alter the body’s natural elimination processes.
• Avoid smoking and smoky environments: there is some evidence that (as well as everything else we know it causes!), cigarette smoking indirectly affects the size of the enlarging prostate. This could be because constricted blood vessels throughout the body affect how much oxygen and nutrient rich blood flows to the organs and extremities.
• Avoid coffee, tea, caffeinated soft drinks and chocolate. Some men find that their prostate problems are made worse with caffeine because the neck of the bladder is constricted by increased caffeine levels. Again, try the elimination approach.
* Consume more soy-based foods: soy products are recommended for preventing prostate enlargement.
• Include zinc in your diet: zinc has been shown to improve urinary symptoms and reduce the size of the prostate, and can therefore be effective in preventing and reversing prostate enlargement. Vegetables high in zinc include dried beans, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, lentils, peas, beets, cabbage and whole grains. Additionally, pumpkin seeds, oats, whole wheat and rye.
* Add Selenium, Evening Primrose Oil and the amino acids daily – glutamine, alanine and lysine in particular – to maintain healthy cardiovascular and nervous system function.
HOW CAN YOGA HELP??
Yoga connects all systems and energies throughout the body and enhances blood quality, respiratory function, regulates hormone production and flow, digestion and elimination as well as helping to balance and calm the mind and emotions. Yoga can strengthen, release and balance simultaneously and can give men the mental challenges they need depending on the sequences and stamina, agility and focus needed. Poor circulation can exacerbate prostate problems. Regular yoga practice can increase blood flow, deepen the breath and release neuro-muscular knots to tone and nourish all cells, organs, joints and tissues. Any congestion or blocked prana/chi/energy will then disperse to restore harmony and well being so we feel more aligned, more as nature intended.
Yoga also helps give men a sense of exertion with calmness rather than firing up and agitating their systems. This is particularly good because it allows them to connect with their softer side and explore aspects of their emotional selves that they may not necessarily do in a power aerobic or boxing class!, without having to sacrifice or subdue their masculinity. They learn to listen, acknowledge and appreciate their inner voice by being on the mat and after time, may even begin to explore and express what is inside more often and with more confidence.
Yoga is all about creating unity between your mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual selves; the physical benefits are just a bonus. Asana (postures) is what we do in order to sit and meditate comfortably with a still, undistracted mind. It’s not about being a flexible pretzel or about proving how much longer you can hold a pose than the person beside you… something (men especially) tend to forget when the voices of competition and ego bark loudly in their ears!
By bringing particular awareness to the perineum or Root Lock/Base Chakra that governs instincts, behavior, confidence and blood quality, prostate symptoms, and the sense of feeling unsupported, may be relieved. Once awareness is established, you then work into strengthening and governing energy through the Base Chakra which will restore foundational power in the spine and help men assert their masculinity in a confident yet calm way. The flow of Testosterone balances which helps to regulate sexual urges, desires and cravings; a person may become more kinesthetic ie more receptive and intuitive. And when the physical body rebalances, thoughts, responses and intentions transform into more appropriate, responsible behavior tendencies.
6 great yoga postures (that are safe and accessible for beginners) include:
(The best time to meditate is after yoga asanas, always on an empty stomach, and preferably at sunrise or sunset.)
1. Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose) – increases blood supply to pelvis, kidneys, prostate and bladder and brings awareness and energy into Mulabhanda/Root Lock.
2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) – strengthens the arms & legs, lengthens the spine, opens the chest and lungs and strengthens the heart. An excellent all-rounder pose!
3. Bhujangasana (cobra pose variation) – knees bent with feet pointing up to ceiling – this variation contacts the kidneys more deeply and helps with hormonal flow. Also helps to stimulate production of all male hormonal fluids by directly stimulating the bladder, kidneys and sex glands.
4. Supta Padangusthasana – (reclining big toe pose) – relieves backache, stretches hips and hamstrings and opens the lower back so energy can flow along the kidneys and bladder meridians.
5. Paripurna Navasana (boat pose) – tones the kidneys, abdominals and strengthens the lower back. Keep feet on floor or hug knees to chest as you balance to switch belly on.
6. Virasana (seated hero pose) – Meditate in this position to finish your practice. Excellent for calming and centering the mind and digestive fire. Focus on drawing up Mulabhanda. Alternative is Savasana (corpse pose) for mediation.
It is no surprise that in Western society we experience some of the highest statistics for prostate (and breast) cancers. Why? Perhaps we place too much emphasis on the body and associated material paraphernalia, when instead we could be focusing on connecting with and honoring, not only our own spirit and potential, but each others’ as well. Diseases that reflect ‘lack’ such as low self-esteem, depression, fatigue, sexual dysfunction and psychological imbalance are rife because we mostly operate from fear and loss rather than abundance and trust. Maybe if we reversed our thoughts and began thinking from a positive space more often, stopped to feel and appreciate the earth beneath our feet that gives us what we need, we could reduce those statistics and replace them with high self-esteem, vitality and chronic happiness! Are we brave enough to imagine, let alone create, such a world?
It all starts with us as individuals and that is why yoga is such an effective therapy. On our mats we are all equal, we all have the same bodies, we feel the same sensations and we recognize our failings and triumphs in the person practicing beside us. Yoga makes us feel and breathe and embrace. It makes us laugh at ourselves (something I think we don’t do enough of) and ignites our compassionate, human, nature. And with that kind of power burning inside of you, dis-ease will have a hard time staying alight.
If you think you have prostate problems, don’t assume you do, have it checked out by your GP. A digital rectal exam (DRE) and, or urine and blood tests, will confirm whether or not you have Benigh Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH) or other prostate problems, and an ultra-sound test can be done to check for prostate cancer.
And of course, the best treatment is PREVENTION.
Practice daily, 20 minutes should suffice, gradually build up to longer by holding poses for more breaths, and pay attention to your breathing, how you feed yourself and what you choose to hold onto in life.
For more health and well being articles and information visit www. fitforlifeonline.com.au