Health Articles


Maintaining Prostate Health
At age 55, John felt that he was in peak condition. He didn't think it was unusual that he often had get up in the night to urinate, and that urination was more frequent during the day, with reduced speed and flow. A year later, when his symptoms worsened, John paid a visit to his doctor and was told that he had benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): an enlarged prostate gland. John suddenly faced a choice between taking drugs-with dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and reduced sexual drive and performance as side effects -- and surgery, with a high risk for complications and a possible negative impact on the quality of his life. The bad news is that 75-80 percent of American men develop prostate problems some time during their lifetime and face similar hard choices. Fortunately, there are measures men can take to help avoid that scenario.

The Ayurvedic View
Every person goes through three stages of life, called kalas in ayurveda, each associated with one of the three doshas-ayurvedic operators that govern all the activities of the mind and body. In the Kapha stage (childhood and young adulthood), qualities of Kapha dosha predominate; in the Pitta stage (adulthood), Pitta dosha is dominant; and in mature adulthood and beyond, the Vata stage of life occurs. "Prostate enlargement is a transitional health problem that can occur when a man is going from the Pitta stage of life to the Vata stage of life, which takes place from 50 to 60 years of age," says Vaidya R.K. Mishra, Director of Research at Maharishi Ayurveda Products International, Inc. "The dry, fluctuating qualities of Vata dosha cause testosterone production to fluctuate, and this in turn can cause enlargement of the prostate and other prostate problems." In addition, the drying, fluctuating effect of Vata reduces the prostate's production of a thin, milky, alkaline bodily fluid that increases sperm mobility, lubricates the urethra, and prevents infection. Thus bacterial infections of the prostate often occur at this age (or at any age when Vata dosha is out of balance).

Enhancing Prostate Health
"Because prostate enlargement is caused by an imbalance in Vata dosha, it's important to avoid Vata-aggravating foods," says Vaidya Mishra. These include dry, cold, and light foods and bitter, astringent, and pungent tastes. Instead, favor the Vata-pacifying diet, which includes sweet, sour, and salty tastes and warm, oily foods. Proteins are important for prostate health. Quinoa and amaranth are high-protein grains that also have high zinc content, and thus both strengthen the prostate. The link between zinc and prostate health has been recognized by the American Medical Association. "Certain spices, such as cumin, improve absorption and assimilation, enhance digestion and eliminate impurities (ama)," says Vaidya Mishra. Fenugreek boosts fat and sugar metabolism, keeps the fat and blood tissues ama-free, and strengthens the immune system. Coriander is known for removing toxins from the body through the urine. It also keeps the urine free of ama, and thus helps prevent prostate infection. Turmeric is a well-known anti-inflammatory, helping to relieve pain and modulate the immune system. As the most effective antioxidant spice, turmeric has a cholesterol-lowering effect. And fennel helps balance hormonal levels. Vegetables can also help. "Asparagus helps balance testosterone levels, and dikon radish helps purify the urine and improves flow," says Vaidya Mishra. Anything that aggravates Vata dosha -- too much stress, staying awake past 10:00 p.m., and rushing around during the day -- should be avoided. Starting the day with an ayurvedic oil massage (abhyanga) is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to balance Vata dosha. "Too much continuous sitting can also cause imbalances in the prostate, so plan to take a short walk every hour or so if your job is sedentary," advises Vaidya Mishra. It's also wise to keep the elimination balanced by drinking more water, eating more vegetables and adding fiber to the diet, such as psyllium seed husks.

Note : This ayurvedic information is educational and is not intended to replace standard medical care or advice. Copyright MAPI, 2002.

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