What Does LUTS Refer to and Who Experiences It?
LUTS—or Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms—refers to a grouping of symptoms related to the lower urinary tract (bladder, prostate and urethra). In men, these symptoms often result from enlargement of the prostate and are associated with the disorder benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The MayoClinic sums up the experience of BPH as follows: “An enlarged prostate gland can cause uncomfortable urinary symptoms, such as blocking the flow of urine out of the bladder. It can also cause bladder, urinary tract or kidney problems.”
Put bluntly, LUTS is an uncomfortable health issue that more than half the adult male population will develop, the likelihood of which increases with age. According to reports, more than 80% of men over the age of 60 will experience LUTS.
But LUTS doesn’t have to be an inevitability. Making strong lifestyle choices and being proactive with health can go a long way toward keeping LUTS at bay or avoiding it altogether. Here are five tips for doing just that.
In a literature review on how different lifestyle factors impact LUTS, Pao-Hwa Lin, PhD and Stephen J. Freedland, MD suggest that obesity is "associated with larger prostate size" and is therefore a major player in the development of LUTS; obesity may also interfere with therapies used to mitigate LUTS.
Exercise and diet are both key elements of the obesity equation. We’ll touch on healthy eating below, but the importance of regular physical activity should not be understated. Studies referenced in Lin and Freedland’s review suggest that regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can both help men avoid developing LUTS altogether and reduce LUTS-related symptoms once they’ve appeared. On the flip side, studies are also clear that sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of developing LUTS.
Whether exercise helps abate LUTS by reducing overall body mass or if it contributes to a reduction in symptoms in and of itself, many professionals working in the urology field recommend including regular physical activity as a part of any plan to address LUTS and associated disorders.
Skip the Steak and Eat Your Greens
As noted, obesity is a critical factor in the development of LUTS and its symptoms; it is therefore important to eat well and keep the waistline down in order to stave of LUTS. While eating too many calories, in general, is often cited as a contributor to the development of LUTS, several studies suggest red meat is particularly damaging [1,2].
On the flip side, eating a high-vegetable diet correlates with prostate health and reduced incidences of LUTS. Researchers T.G. Adedeji et al suggest in a recent article from the African Journal of Urology that one of the reasons there is a lower incidence of LUTS in Asian countries versus Western ones may be “the consumption of a mainly plant-based diet in those Asian countries whereas the Western diet is predominantly animal-based.”
You don’t necessarily need to go vegan to protect your prostate, but consider opting for leaner protein options, fill half your plate with vegetables at every meal and avoid overeating. Steak may be tasty, but there are many ways to prepare delicious, well-balanced and calorically appropriate meals without sabotaging your urinary tract.
Swap Your Morning Coffee with Grapefruit Juice
This may be the hardest challenge of all, but reducing the amount of caffeine you drink in a day is a great way to keep your urinary tract more regular. If you use endless cups of joe as a tool get yourself to wake up in the morning, you may be increasing your odds of developing LUTS or antagonizing the symptoms. Indeed, studies show that “men who consumed more than 2 cups/day of coffee were more likely to develop progression in LUTS.” (Interestingly, the same was not true for women—sorry, guys).
Looking for a good substitute for your breakfast java? Opt for orange or grapefruit juice. Those same studies that recommend you lay off the coffee also note that “consumption of orange or grapefruit juice was associated with protection from LUTS progression in men.” (Just make sure you don’t overdo it on the OJ; more than 250 mg/day of vitamin C—as is found in citrus juices—may actually irritate the bladder.)
Another smart move? Consume around 1500/mL of water during the day and avoid drinking too much of anything at night—a full bladder may cause nighttime waking. (Of course, you don’t need us to remind you to take your hydration seriously, do you?)
See a Doctor (Just Do It)
Reducing your weight, exercising often and eating well can go a long way toward mitigating lower urinary symptoms or reducing the risk of developing LUTS in the first place. However, if symptoms persist or intensify, seeking out a professional opinion is critical.
Surveys suggest that men are half as likely as women to go see a doctor; surveys also suggest that over half of men say “their health just isn’t something they talk about” and this is especially true for urinary tract problems—only three percent of men are willing to engage in a conversation on this sensitive topic. There are a number of reasons men may avoid getting a professional opinion—they may fear being vulnerable, want to avoid receiving bad news, or feel they just don’t have enough free time.
However, going to the doctor is an essential part of living a long and healthful life. If you’ve started experiencing LUTS—whether the symptoms are great or small—a trip to the doctor could be...just what the doctor ordered. LUTS and BPH, left untreated, could escalate into more severe disorders; LUTS may also cause “irreversible bladder or kidney damage.”
A doctor may recommend lifestyle adjustments as suggested above; depending on the severity of the symptoms, however, they may also discuss medication options and timing or help you develop a specific plan of attack with diet and exercise. In any case, receiving challenging news is always hard, but being equipped with as much information as possible really can be the difference between life and death.
Take the Right Supplement
At SciLife BioSciences, we developed the VitaYears™ Prostate Support Supplement to help support normal urinary tract function. Ingredients like pygeum extract and beta-sitosterol help reduce urgency and nighttime waking while zinc, selenium and boron may help support prostate health according to scientific research. SciLife™ is committed to helping men live their fullest lives, free from the pain and inconveniences associated with LUTS and other prostate-related disorders. Taken as part of a healthy lifestyle, our Prostate Supplement can help you begin your journey back to vital living.