Every few months, the swipe machine in the checkout line at the grocery store asks for a donation to support research for some medical condition. This month it happens to be for prostate research. Although most of us have heard of the prostate and have a general sense of where it is located, we really do not know what it does or how to take care of it. Of course only men have one. The prostate is located below the bladder and the urethra which carries urine through from the bladder. Its main function is to add fluid to the ejaculate, making up about 30% of the semen. It is also very vulnerable to a condition called benign hypertrophy which can impede urine flow. It also causes men to get up to urinate during the night, especially as they get older. The prostate is also susceptible to the development of cancer and is the number one overall cause of cancer in men. It has been stated that if a man lives long enough, eventually he will have one or both of these conditions. So, what is the best way to keep the prostate healthy? The most obvious, and no I did not make this up, is to use your prostate regularly. Regular release of prostatic fluid through ejaculation has been shown in recent studies to reduce the likelihood of developing cancer. However, there are many dietary foods and supplements that have been shown to promote prostate health and perhaps reduce the risk of prostatic cancer. The most notable supplements touted to help the prostate include anti-oxidants such as lycopene and saw palmeto. Other agents that have favorable effects on prostatic health include zinc, selenium, soy and omega-3. In addition, phytosterols, stinging nettle root, pumpkin seed oil, quercetin, pomegranate, and resveratrol have all been ascribed with beneficial effects on prostate health. There are many “prostate formulas’ on the market which contain some or all of these. Read the ingredients and make sure they have adequate amounts of lycopene, saw palmeto and the other substances mentioned here. In addition, eat a low-fat diet with more plant than animal based fats, eat fish, decrease dairy intake, add soy products and drink green tea. Get your prostate checked and at a certain age your doctor will start checking a PSA level in your blood as a marker of possible problems. These can be very treatable so don’t delay if you suspect a problem. Of course, the best cure is prevention.