Balance – Prostate and bladder health
The most common non-life threatening conditions among men above a certain age are an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – with approximately 50 % of men over 50 years of age being affected.
The prostate, also called prostate gland, is located at the bottom of the bladder. It produces the seminal fluid, which serves as transport and nutrient medium for the sperm.
Prostate tissue may begin to enlarge at as early as the age of 35. By the time they reach 75 years of age, a prostate enlargement (BPH) can be found in almost all men. It is believed that this is caused by a decrease in testosterone production which thereby results in a shift in the ratio between testosterone and estrogen. Because the prostate envelopes the upper part of the urethra, through which the urine exits the bladder, an enlargement of the prostate may obstruct the flow of urine. BPH does not necessarily become pathological. If the only symptoms experienced are those which relate to urination, it is referred to as benign prostatic syndrome (BPS). This is the case in around 25 to 30 percent of men affected.
The following symptoms are caused by an increased restriction of the urethra and the resulting problems passing urine:
Frequent, nocturnal urination
Sudden, uncontrolled urination
Weak urinary stream
Having to stop and start repeatedly while urinating
Difficulty starting to urinate
Feeling that the bladder is not empty after urinating
An increase in urinary tract infections
The causes are, most notably, hormonal changes, particularly those in testosterone and estrogen levels which change with age. Both hormones promote growth of the prostate, especially near the urethral glands of the prostate, such that the urethra becomes increasingly constricted.
Natural remedies and their effects
In addition to a generally healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet is key to maintaining healthy prostate and bladder function.
Certain nutrients can have health-promoting effects on the prostate. If started early, a proper diet can contribute to the prevention of prostate disease. People who already suffer from a prostate disease should focus on optimizing their diet, since well-balanced nutrition acts to support medically prescribed therapies effectively.
With regard to supporting prostate health, phytohormones (also known as plant hormones) are considered important. These herbal estrogen-like substances are able to inhibit excessive estrogen production in the body. They are able to limit the effects estrogen has on the body by binding to and effectively blocking the estrogen receptors of the prostate, without stimulating growth-promoting processes. Consequently, there are no receptors which remain available for the endogenous estrogens. Estrogen production is no longer stimulated, which in turn reduces or even prevents the growth of the prostate gland. As a result, complaints surrounding urination can be remedied. Furthermore, phytoestrogens are a type of antioxidant and therefore have a cytoprotective effect. The richest source of lignans are flax seeds. Compared to other vegetable sources, flax seeds contain 75 times to 800 times the amount of lignans.
Lignans also have strong effects on bladder function. Among their roles are:
fulfilling important protective and repair tasks
protecting the bladder from bladder diseases
reducing the constant urge to urinate
soothing an irritated bladder and
strengthening the bladder muscles.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Flax seed oil is rich in ALA, a polyunsaturated fatty acid which is invaluable to the body as it provides an important building block for our cells. Thus, it supports the development of all types of cells in the body and is the basis for the fluidity, flexibility, and activity of our cell membranes. It is an indispensable component of all metabolic processes. To understand the importance of cell membranes retaining their flexibility and fluidity of the cell membranes, imagine red blood cells. Only thanks to their flexibility can they penetrate even the smallest of capillaries in order to supply our skin and mucous membranes with optimal enough oxygen and nutrients to maintain their function.
When selecting a source of healthy fatty acids, the main focus should be on its quality. This is the only way - as Dr. Johanna Budwig pointed out again and again – to ensure that our cells receive the full benefits of the electron richness from the oils. A great importance must be attached to the selection of the seeds, their crop rotation, the extraction, and any further processing. Therefore, Dr. Johanna Budwig clearly defined and documented quality standards. For the extraction of oil, she developed a very gentle process, the "Original Dr. Budwig pressing method" – which is still known under that name today.
Nutrition and Co.
Generally speaking, it should always be a priority to ensure that one takes in plenty of fluids. Drinking at least two liters per day flushes the kidneys and urinary tract. Ideal beverages for keeping hydrated are water, mineral water, or herbal teas. Diuretic drinks such as alcoholic beverages, coffee, and black tea should only be consumed in moderation.
A diet which is high in fiber and contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, and whole grain products provides a solid foundation for good health. Simultaneously, the amount of animal fats consumed should be kept at a minimal level.
Saturated fats from animal sources can increase the risk of prostate disease. Unsaturated fats of vegetable origin, on the other hand, tend to have a soothing effect on prostate and bladder diseases.
An adequate daily intake of electron-rich, polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids may help to protect against prostate disorders. At the same unfavorable fats such as trans fats, as well as an excess of omega-6 fatty acids, should be avoided.
To improve the energy levels in all types of cells in the human body, Dr. Johanna Budwig recommended a breakfast which is rich in both omega-3 fatty acids and sulfur-containing amino acids.
The Budwig Cream - developed by its namesake - combines nutritionally valuable flax seed oil with quark (cottage cheese may be substituted). Flax seed oil contains a high proportion of the vegetable omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. Quark, on the other hand, is rich in sulfur-containing amino acids. Together these ingredients form a strong unit: the positively charged amino acids in the quark and the negatively charged fatty acids from flax seed are attracted to one another. In this combination, the quark acts as an "omega-3 protector." It shields the omega-3 fatty acids in flax seed oil from oxidation, whereby they are able to enter the human body- to a great extent unchanged. As a result, they are much more available for use by the cells and their membranes.
A breakfast containing high-quality flax seed oil compositions and quark provides the body with sufficient energy in the morning and provides the basis for vital cellular respiration processes.
Take good care of your digestive tract!
Whether our cells actually benefit from the food we consume each day, depends largely on our intestinal health. The decisive factor is our intestines’ ability to absorb the nutrients that we eat. Dr. Johanna Budwig, thus, recommended daily consumption of fresh sauerkraut juice or sour milk to maintain our intestines and their intestinal flora. Furthermore, the regular consumption of dietary fiber plays an important role in healthy bowel function. Therefore, an integral part our daily diet should include 1-2 tablespoons of shredded and fortified flax seed, blended into a Budwig cream, made of quark and flax seed oil, or in Muttersaft (pure, unflitered, unsweetened first-press juice from a fruit or berry) such as Fermentgold.
Oil compositions which contain added flax seed particles and, therefore, a higher content of lignans are considered especially beneficial.
"Today, the combination of quark and flax seed oil represents a tremendous thing. Thanks to new scientific findings, within this simple formula lies the realization that we can counteract many health problems caused by improper food or other toxic effects." (Dr. Johanna Budwig: "The Oil-Protein Diet")
In terms of the incidence of prostate and bladder diseases, a comparison between the eating habits in the industrialized countries and those of Asian and southern European countries yields very interesting results.
In Asia, significantly fewer men are affected by BPH, while in the western industrialized countries, more than 90 % of men above 70 years of age have BHP. This is in stark contrast to Japan and China, where it affects less than 10%. In the case of people with Japanese or Chinese heritage, however, who had emigrated to the United States, the incidence of prostate disease within two generations had more than doubled. Men who come from Mediterranean areas are not as severely affected. Studies have shown that this is due to the local eating habits, which involve a lot of fresh food, with a high proportion of vegetables as well as high quality vegetable oils.
Denis L. et al.: Diet and its preventive role in prostatic disease. Eur Urol. 1999;35(5-6):377-87.