This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Men’s health may not seem as complicated as female health, due to the fact that there are fewer hormones involved. However, men still can and should support their health with a whole foods diet, herbs and supplements.
One of the most important factors in achieving optimal health and avoiding the health problems that commonly affect men is a primarily whole food diet that includes minimal, if any, processed and refined foods. This means avoiding pre-packaged and frozen meals, sodas and other sugary beverages, as well as large amounts of simple carbohydrates (white flour, white rice and white sugar). Drinking half your weight of water or non-caffeinated herbal teas in ounces is essential to staying hydrated. If you weigh 160 lbs., you should drink approximately 80 ounces of water daily to keep your body’s cells hydrated.
Along with maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly, these eight herbs and supplements are worth taking to support the health of any man over 50:
Lycopene is a carotenoid found in foods such as tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit and guava. This antioxidant is naturally found in the liver, prostate, skin, adrenal glands, lungs, colon and blood serum in humans. Epidemiological studies have shown that men who have higher amounts of lycopene in their bodies have a lower rate of getting prostate cancer. BPH is also greatly reduced in men who consume lycopene rich foods four-to-five times a week. If you are obtaining lycopene from tomatoes, the lycopene is more readily absorbable when cooked. Such is the case with spaghetti sauce.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is beginning to become well known in the Northern hemisphere. Maca is a root tuber that is not only high in protein, complex carbohydrates and iron, but is also nourishing and building to the body. Not only does it help improve stamina, it may also help to increase libido, sexual function, increase sperm count and potentially reduce the size of an enlarged prostate.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is essential in supporting healthy liver function, and depending on the health of the liver, can help rebuild parts of it as well. In order for the prostate to remain healthy, your liver should remain in optimal condition in order to continue to effectively remove toxins from the body. Milk thistle not only protects the liver, it acts as a detoxifying agent in the body.
Nettle root is also known as Urtica dioica. The root has been used traditionally and in studies either alone or in herbal blends to reduce the onset of prostatitis and BPH. It seems to have an effect on prostatitis due to its anti-inflammatory actions. As for BPH, it is usually triggered by an overproduction of estrogen and dihydrotestosterone, both of which lead to prostate enlargement. Nettle root appears to interfere with the chemical processes that result in the production of the hormones that are involved in BPH.
Pycnogenol, also known as Pinus pinaster, is best known for its role in supporting cardiovascular health by helping to dilate blood vessels, reduce inflammation and provide antioxidant support. There are studies taking place now showing how pycnogenol helps improve male fertility by specifically improving sperm morphology and function in infertile men. Pycnogenol is also worth considering due to its high antioxidant content, which helps reduce the free radical damage that may inhibit healthy sperm function and motility.
Saw palmetto, or Serenoa repens, is widely known to help support a healthy prostate. It is a plant similar to the palm. Saw palmetto is often used by men over forty, because that is the age at which an enlarged prostate becomes more likely to occur. Saw palmetto inhibits the action of the hormone dihydrostestosteron, which contributes to enlarging the prostate. This herb is also anti-inflammatory and may help increase urine output for men who are having difficulty. As a result, it may enhance male sexual function.
Not only does this mineral help support your immune system and adrenals, particularly when you’re stressed, but zinc is especially useful for men. Zinc is necessary for men to maintain healthy testosterone levels and prevent the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. Furthermore, due to its ability to regulate male hormones, increasing zinc intake has been shown to increase sperm count and motility.
Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Presumably, good quality fish oil will contain adequate amounts of the essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and have body-wide benefits. They may help reduce the inflammation that is a result of prostatitis. Taken regularly, omega-3s may also reduce the risk of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate, which can be bacterial or non-bacterial in nature. BPH is the enlargement of the prostate due to a proliferation of prostatic cells in the prostate leading to rapid prostate growth. Both are uncomfortable and can lead to other health problems such as difficulty urinating, urinary frequency, pelvic pain and fatigue.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benign_prostatic_hyperplasia on 10/15/10
Lycopene Health Benefits. Retrieved from http://www.enotalone.com/article/9343.html on 10/18/10
Maca Restores Sexual Health without Raising Hormone Levels. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/026413_maca_health_sexual_health.html on 10/18/10
More support for lycopene’s prostate benefits. Retrieved from http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/More-support-for-lycopene-s-prostate-benefits on 10/18/10
Nettle. Retrieved from http://www.rain-tree.com/nettles.htm on 10/19/10
Roseff, S.J. (2002). Improvement in sperm quality and function with French maritime pine tree bark extract. Journal of Reproductive Medicine, V47(10)821-824.