Managing chronic prostatitis through diet

Men who suffer from chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) find out the hard way that most traditional medical treatments do nothing to permanently eliminate their prostatitis pain and symptoms. Many of the causes of chronic prostatitis are not bacterial in nature, so antibiotics are ineffective. Certain prescription medications provide some symptom relief, but they don’t actually treat the cause of prostatitis itself and can add unwanted side effects as a new problem to face.  Symptoms may come and go for months or even years, but they never seem to completely be resolved.

Men suffering from CP/CPPS often become stressed, frustrated and even hopeless about how to escape this chronic condition. The solution is to follow a more naturopathic approach that looks at whole-body health, starting with diet and nutrition. Many cases of CP/CPPS actually stem from problems occurring elsewhere in the body and outside of the prostate itself.

Taking a look at your diet and eating habits is one natural way that may help you determine the cause and possible solution to your prostate health problems. Research has uncovered common foods and drinks that can exacerbate prostatitis symptoms, as well as certain foods, health care products and beverages that can provide relief. Knowing the foods to avoid for prostatitis and incorporating healthier alternatives is a good way to approach CP/CPPS without the use of drugs.

Foods to avoid

Some researchers conducted a study to determine the prevalence of perceived food sensitivity in men with CP/CPPS. The men who participated filled out a questionnaire that covered the way that food, beverages and other substances affected their pelvic pain symptoms. Of the 95 men who returned surveys, 47.4 percent of them reported that consuming certain substances aggravated their symptoms. Researchers concluded, “many patients with CP/CPPS have demonstrable food, beverage, and dietary supplement sensitivities. Dietary changes should be considered in the treatment of these patients.”

The following foods and beverages that were found to exacerbate prostatitis symptoms (in order of most commonly associated to less commonly associated with exacerbating prostatitis symptoms) are as follows:

  1. Spicy foods
  2. Coffee
  3. Hot peppers
  4. Alcoholic beverages
  5. Tea
  6. Chili

Other foods and substances that exacerbated prostatitis symptoms include:

  • Acidic foods
  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Caffeine

Could the caffeine in your morning coffee be the cause of your problems? Is it the wheat in your toast?  Do you eat a lot of spicy food? Try cutting these foods out to see if your symptoms improve.

Bowel and prostate health

Your prostate health and bowel health are connected to each other. That is why some of the foods to avoid for prostatitis may cause prostatitis pain, inflammation and worsening of CP/CPPS symptoms.

For example, cayenne peppers (which contain capsaicin) and other spicy foods can cause pain and problems for men who suffer certain health conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Irritable bowel is frequently found in men who have CP/CPPS, and spicy foods can increase rectal sensitivity in IBS patients. You should avoid them if they cause prostatitis symptoms for you.

Besides learning about foods to avoid for prostatitis, you should also look into the substances that can alleviate CP/CPPS symptoms. The study that found foods and drinks that exacerbate prostatitis symptoms also looked at different ingestibles that help relieve CP/CPPS symptoms.

Ingestibles that were found to help relieve prostatitis symptoms include:

  • Docusate (stool softener)
  • Psyllium (dietary fiber)
  • Water
  • Herbal teas
  • Polycarbophil (stool stabilizer)

When looking at your dietary and whole-body health it is important to include in your diet foods that promote good intestinal health. Probiotics should be part of a daily healthy diet that supports both digestive and prostate health. Foods containing probiotics include buttermilk, fermented vegetables (sauerkraut and kimchee), yogurt and kefir. You can also take a quality daily probiotic supplement designed for men’s health.

The term probiotics refers to the beneficial, or helpful, microflora found in the gut. They include the “good” yeasts and bacteria that normally reside in balance with other bacteria in the intestinal tract. When a person takes antibiotics, the drugs kill of both the good and bad bacteria, and this allows more harmful bacteria to take over.

One popular hypothesis is that widespread use of antibiotics can increase a man’s risk for developing CP/CPPS. In addition to probiotics, you can support your intestinal health by increasing your fiber intake and staying well hydrated with water and herbal teas. Avoid drinking caffeinated teas and beverages.

As most traditional therapies are not effective for dealing with prostatitis, it is important to consider your lifestyle, diet and whole-body health. Looking at your diet and digestive health and how these elements affect your prostate health is a good start for finding relief from your chronic prostatitis pain and other symptoms.

Probiotics are often used in conjunction with phytotherapy, another naturopathic approach for prostatitis patients. Phytotherapy involves using the dietary supplements bee pollen extracts and quercetin. These well-researched antioxidant-rich supplements have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Elimination diets

Elimination diets can help you identify the problem foods in your diet that could be contributing to your health problems. With an elimination diet you stop eating certain foods for a few weeks. If you find relief from your symptoms, the foods you eliminated may be the cause. If the symptoms return after you reintroduce the problem foods, then you know that they are a problem for your prostate health and you should avoid them.

Elimination diets are also helpful in determining if you have a food intolerance or an allergy that is responsible for or contributing to your CP/CPPS symptoms. Wheat and gluten are common culprits when it comes to CP/CPPS, which is why having prostatitis is one of the reasons to try a wheat-free diet. If you have a food allergy or intolerance, it can create inflammation of the prostate and may lead to CP/CPPS or a flare-up of existing prostatitis symptoms.

Whether you are concerned about some of the foods found to cause or exacerbate prostatitis symptoms or you think you may have a food allergy or intolerance, it is worth trying an elimination diet. You can also start keeping a food journal to keep track of what you eat. This can help you recognize whether your symptoms are related to a dietary pattern. It can be challenging to identify a food allergy or intolerance. There is usually a delay between eating the offensive food and the body’s response, which can vary by a few hours to even a few days.

Be patient and observant when looking at your diet, because what you eat can affect both your health and how you feel. Experimenting with your diet can help you figure out which foods and beverages are best for you to avoid or most helpful to you. This important step in gaining control of your health can help you manage your prostatitis naturally and without the use of medication

 

Reference:

Herati, A. S., et al. Effects of Foods and Beverages on the Symptoms of Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. UROLOGY 82 (6), 2013. 1376-1380.

Dr. Geo Espinosa

By Dr. Geo Espinosa

Dr. Geo Espinosa is a naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist and certified functional medicine practitioner recognized as an authority in holistic urology and men’s health. He is Clinical Assistant Professor and holistic clinician in Urology at New York University Langone Medical Center. As an avid researcher and writer, Dr. Geo has authored numerous scientific papers and books including co-editing the Integrative Sexual Health book, and author of the best selling prostate cancer book: Thrive, Don't Only Survive.