( By Dr. H.K.Bakhru )
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Nearly one-third of all men over 50 years suffer from prostate troubles of one form or another. The percentage rises with age and reaches 75 after the age of 80 years. Prostate and bladder disorders can lead to numerous other ailments such as arthritis, kidney disorders and uremia. It is, therefore, of utmost importance to detect the disease in its early stages and commence treatment.
The prostate gland is a male gland, comparable in shape and size to a large chestnut. It is reddish brown in appearance. It measures approximately one and a half inches in width and about an inch in length and weighs approximately 25 grams. It is situated at the base of the urinary bladder and around the commencement of the urethra, the membranous tube for the passage of the urine. It is thus vital in relation to the emptying of the bladder and bears a close relationship to the rectum.
The prostate gland is composed of both muscular and glandular tissues. It is firmly attached to the pelvis by a dense fascial sheath. Like all muscular and glandular tissues in the body, it is adequately supplied with blood vessels , arteries, veins and nerves. The gland plays an important role in normal sexual life and its function is to secrete a fluid which is added to semen during sexual intercourse.
There are various types of prostate disorders. Of these, the most important are prostatitis or inflammation in the prostate gland and hypertrophy or enlargement of the prostate gland. Prostatitis may be acute or chronic. It is a painful and distressing disorder, but can be cured with proper treatment, without any adverse effects. Enlargement of the prostate gland or hypertrophy is the most common complaint affecting the gland. This occurs mainly in men of middle or advanced age. The enlargement develops so gradually over a long period that it often assumes serious proportion before it is detected.
There are two warning signals to indicate the possibility of prostate disorders. The first is the interference with the passage of urine and the second is the need to void the urine frequently during the night’s sleep. Both these symptoms are very definite. Other symptoms are a dull aching pain in the lower back and pain in the hips, legs and feet.
Prostate enlargement affects the glandular system as a whole. The patient experiences all the symptoms of disturbed health such as lack of energy and physical, mental and nervous disturbances. Proper treatment of the disorder is, therefore of utmost importance.
The position of the prostate gland makes it liable to congestion and other disorders. In an erect position, pressure falls on the pelvic region just where the prostate gland is situated. With ageing, the body gets heavier and loses its flexibility which makes the pressure on the pelvis even greater and increases the vulnerability of the prostate glands. Prolonged periods of sitting down, as in certain occupations, also increases the pressure on the pelvic region resulting in congestion of the tissues in and around the prostate gland. With the passage of time, changes such as inflammation or enlargement occur in the gland. Acute prostatitis may also result from exposure to cold and chill and from an infectious disease. Chronic prostatitis is an after-effect of the acute condition. It may also result from continual irritation of the gland due to excessive sexual treatment.
Another important cause of prostate disorders is constipation. In constipation, the faeces becomes hardened and the rectum or lower bowel overloaded. This causes undue pressure on the prostate gland. It also entails a great deal of straining to pass stools and this adversely affects the prostate gland due to its proximity to the rectum.
The dietetic treatment for prostate enlargement consists of detoxicating the system by proper fasting and diet. To begin with, the patient should forgo all solid foods and subsist on water only for two or three days. The intake of water should be as plentiful as possible. Nothing should be added to the water except a little lemon juice, if desired. The water may be taken cold or hot and it should be taken every hour or so when awake. This will greatly increase the flow of the urine.
An enema may be taken once a day during fasting to clear the lower bowel of accumulations. After thorough cleansing of the bowels, hot and cold applications may be used directly on the prostate gland and its surrounding parts. The heat relieves the tissues and a brief cold immersion tones them up. The patient should take alternate hot and cold baths. These are of great value in relieving pain and reducing congestion. While taking hip baths, it should be ensured that the buttocks and pelvis are well covered with water. The hot bath should be taken first for ten minutes, followed by cold bath for one minute only.
After the short fast, the patient should adopt an all- fruit diet for three days. The fruits should include apples, pears, oranges, grape-fruits, grapes, sweet limes, mangoes, melons and all other juicy fruits. This will help to clear toxins from the body and will also enable excess fat to be reduced to some extent.
The exclusive fruit diet should be followed by a diet, consisting of two meals of fruits and one of cooked vegetables for further seven days. The vegetable meal should be taken in the evening and could consist of all kinds of cooked vegetables, preferably steamed. There-after, the following general diet may be adopted :
Breakfast : This should consist of fresh fruits in season such as grapes, oranges, apples, bananas, pears, peaches and grape-fruits. A handful of raw seeds and nuts may be added to the fruit meal which has a cleansing and stimulating effect.
Lunch : This meal should be largely a raw salad which should consist of tender vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, endive, watercress and cucumber. Carbo- hydrates, in the form of whole wheat chappatis or rice may be added to this meal. Fresh lemon juice should be used in salad dressing as it is both rich in vitamins and minerals. In addition to citric acid, it contains the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C together with calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, choline and sulphur. With lemon juice, vegetable oil and a little sea salt, an excellent dressing can be made that adds taste as well as food value to the salad.
Dinner : This meal should consist mainly of cooked vegetables like green beans, carrots, peas and potatoes which should be combined with protein foods like cottage, cheese, legumes such as dried beans, lentils, peanuts and sweet fruit, fresh or dried.
The short lemon juice fast, followed by all-fruit diet and a further period on fruits and vegetables may be repeated after two or three months , if necessary, depending on the progress being made.
The patient should use, liberally, raw seeds and nuts, especially pumpkin and squash seeds, sunflower seeds and almond. All these foods are rich in high quality protein. Unsaturated fatty acids and zinc are essential to the health of the prostate. The patient should also use liberal vitamin E - rich foods as vitamin E is an important factor for prostate health.
Heavy starches, sweet stimulants and highly seasoned food are entirely forbidden, as they cause direct irritation on the prostate gland and bladder. The diet should also exclude spices, condiments, salt in excess , sauces, red meats, cheese, asparagus, water cress, greasy or fried foods, alcohol, tobacco and too much tea or coffee. The patient should avoid hurried meals and must chew his food thoroughly and slowly. Water should be taken between means and not at mealtimes.
The patient should avoid sexual excesses, irregularities in eating and drinking, long periods of sitting and vigorous exercise. He should guard against constipation by taking plenty of fruits, bran and nuts. All efforts should be made to tone up the general condition of the body.
With a general improvement in health, the condition will be greatly relieved. Surgery should be resorted to only if the condition does not improve even after the dietary treatment and other measures outlines here.