This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
One of the most important factors in achieving optimal health and avoiding the health problems that commonly affect men is a matter of eating a clean, whole food diet. This means a diet that includes minimal, if any, processed and refined foods and avoids things like pre-packaged and frozen meals, sodas and other sugary beverages.
But what about your hormonal health?
Men’s health may not seem as complicated as female health, due to the fact that there are fewer hormones involved, but to achieve optimal health, men should aim to support all aspects of their health in ways that are safe, effective, present few risks and improve quality of life.
Along with maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly, these 8 herbs and supplements are worth taking to support the health of any man over 50:
Beta-sitosterol is one of the nutrients European doctors routinely look to when their patients are struggling with the frustrations of prostate enlargement. While it doesn’t shrink the prostate gland, clinical research has found that beta-sitosterol effectively alleviates the symptoms of prostate of enlargement, giving many men long awaited relief. A review of four clinical trials found that men who took the supplement had a better urine flow rate compared to men on a placebo.
Fenugreek, a plant whose seeds are commonly used in Indian, African and Arabic cooking, has been used for centuries for its positive impact on everything from blood sugar maintenance to cholesterol balance. But where it really has claim to fame is in its ability to re-boot the mojo of men who feel their mojo dropping.
Fenugreek seeds are rich in a chemical compound known as saponins. According to the authors of one study, among the common saponins found in fenugreek is diosgenin, a steroid-like precursor for the synthesis of a number of sex hormones. The study, published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, reported that fenugreek boosted libido in 82% of men who consumed the dietary supplement in the six-week study. In addition, 63% of the men taking the fenugreek noted an improvement in the quality of sexual performance and 67% of men indicated the herbal extract enhanced their sexual recovery time.
Tongkat Ali is the root of a shrub that has been used to enhance virility for centuries — and gold standard clinical research has found it really works. A 2012 study found that tongkat ali significantly improved scores on the Aging Males’ Symptom scale (AMS), an international assessment tool used in screening for low-testosterone, among men who were experiencing adverse sexual symptoms caused by testosterone loss. Even more impressive is how effectively tongkat ali also increased serum testosterone concentrations: The percentage of men with normal “T” levels rose from 35.5% to an amazing 90.8% in just four weeks.
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.
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.
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.
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.