Recommended Diet for Urological Health

Andrew Siegel MD   7/9/2022

Patients often ask about the best diet to optimize their urological health. Today’s entry addresses this question.

Healthy eating is a foundation of wellness. Our diet provides us with fuel, energy, and the raw materials and nutrients that our body needs to replenish cells and tissues that are constantly turning over.  We are literally what we eat and what we eat eats.

The all-too-common Western diet — calorie-rich, nutrient-poor, loaded with processed and ultra-processed junk and fast foods, sweets, and liquid carbohydrates — is a key factor contributing to avoidable, chronic health issues.  On the other hand, a nutrient-dense diet with an abundance of whole, largely plant-based foods and a limited intake of harmful processed foods will promote health and wellness and can prevent, treat, and even reverse many chronic diseases. Clearly, a healthy diet is fundamental for maintaining good health in general, and vascular health — including sexual health — in particular. 

Eat food, not too much, mostly plantsare the famous seven words attributed to Michael Pollen, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  Food means real, natural, wholesome, unprocessed nourishment as opposed to processed, refined, fast foods; not too much means reasonable and moderate quantities; and mostly plants emphasizes foods grown in the soil — whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, nuts, etc. — with moderation applied to animal, dairy, and egg consumption. Naturally vibrant colors are clues to foods with high nutrient, fiber, vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content, e.g., blueberries and other berries, kale, spinach, peppers in a variety of colors, etc.

“Processing generally increases the shelf life of foods, but not of people.”

Mediterranean-style Diet

A Mediterranean-style diet is colorful, appealing to the senses, fresh, wholesome, and satisfying.  It provides optimal nutrition and helps support a healthy weight since it is lower in calories and higher in nutrients and fiber.  It emphasizes less meat and more fish, an abundance of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, and healthy vegetable fats from olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, etc.  Herbs and spices are used to flavor food, rather than salt.  It allows for a great variety of food choices prepared in a healthy style, not fried or laden with heavy sauces.

Greek style salad with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, feta cheese and falafel with a spritz of red wine vinegar, credit to my wife for preparing and keeping me healthy!

Such a diet can help prevent numerous chronic health issues, including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and some cancers. This style of eating promotes quality and quantity of life and is environmentally sustainable, putting less strain on our already taxed ecosystem with the reduction in consumption of animal products resulting in less greenhouse emissions.

80/20 or 90/10 Diet

I know no one who consumes a perfect diet 100% of the time. At work, at home, in social situations, etc., we are bombarded with unhealthy temptations.  I do not advocate denying indulgences, but rather suggest consideration of an “80/20” or “90/10” strategy.  This means that 80-90% of the time you adhere to a healthy eating style, but 10-20% of the time you give yourself a break, take a brief step off the wagon, and indulge in limited amounts of whatever temptation you fancy. This avoids deprivation and is “a vaccination to prevent the disease.” 

Healthy eating is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle that should also include exercise, adequate quality and quantity of sleep, and avoidance of harmful habits including smoking, excessive alcohol, and excessive stress. 

Vitamins and Supplements

Fact: Micronutrient supplements in isolation behave differently in the body than the natural micronutrients present in whole fruits and vegetables that contain a cocktail of vitamins, fiber, phyto-chemicals, and other nutrients that likely act synergistically to provide health benefits. So, in general, you are better off getting your vitamins and micronutrients via natural food sources as opposed to from a box of pills.

Recent studies have shown that for most people, vitamins and supplements are a waste of money. They have been rarely proven beneficial and at times have been found to be harmful, e.g., beta-carotene can increase lung cancer risk in those at risk and vitamin E may increase risk for hemorrhagic stroke. The exception is pregnancy or if one has specific deficiencies that need to be corrected, e.g., use of calcium and vitamin D to prevent fractures, iron to prevent/treat anemia, etc. Resources are better spent on nutritious foods and quality workout shoes, as eating healthy and exercise are evidence-based practices as opposed to pills with supposedly magical properties.

Urology-healthy Diet

A urology-healthy diet is no different from a heart-healthy or colon-healthy diet or for that matter any bodily system-healthy diet.  That stated, there are some foods that at times can irritate the urinary tract and may possibly exacerbate pelvic pain, urinary urgency, and urinary frequency. If you have these kinds of symptoms, you may want to consider eliminating or reducing one or more of the following irritants and then assessing whether your symptoms improve: alcoholic beverages; caffeinated beverages including coffee, tea, colas and other sodas and certain sport and energy drinks; chocolate; carbonated beverages; tomatoes and tomato products; citrus and citrus products including lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits; spicy foods; sugar and artificial sweeteners; vinegar; acidic fruits including cantaloupe, cranberries, grapes, guava, peaches, pineapple, plums, strawberries; and dairy products.

Healthier Substitutions to Consider

  • Bialys instead of bagels
  • Seafood and lean poultry instead of red meat (and when you do eat red meat, consume only the leanest cuts with grass-fed is preferable to corn-fed)
  • Lean turkey meat instead of beef for hamburgers, meatballs, chili, etc.
  • Vegetable protein sources (e.g. legumes: peas, soybeans, and lentils) instead of animal protein
  • Avocados instead of cheese
  • Olive oil instead of butter
  • Real fruit (e.g. grapes, plums, apricots, figs) instead of dried fruit (raisins, prunes, dried apricots, dried figs)
  • Real fruit (e.g. orange, grapefruit, apple, etc.) instead of fruit juice (OJ, grapefruit juice, apple juice, etc.) since real fruit has less calories, more fiber and phyto-nutrients and is more filling
  • Whole grains (e.g. wheat, brown rice, quinoa, couscous, barley, buckwheat, oats, spelt, etc.) instead of refined grains
  • Tomato sauces instead of cream sauces
  • Vegetable toppings (e.g. broccoli) on pizza instead of meat toppings (pepperoni)
  • Unshelled peanuts instead of processed peanuts (unshelled are difficult to over-consume because of labor-intensity of shelling, the act of which keeps us busy and occupied)
  • Flavored seltzers or sparkling water instead of soda and sweetened beverages (lemonade, iced tea, etc.)
  • Baked, broiled, sautéed, steamed, poached, or grilled instead of fried, breaded, gooey
  • Baked chips instead of fried
  • Wild foods instead of farmed (e.g. salmon)
  • Plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream on baked potatoes and instead of mayo in salad dressings and dips
  • Frozen yogurt bars, which make a delicious 100 calorie or so dessert instead of ice cream
  • Soy, rice, almond, or other nut-based milks instead of dairy
  • Low-fat or non-fat dairy products instead of whole milk products

Additional Healthy Eating Advice

  • Cook healthy meals at home instead of dining out
  • Eat slowly, deliberately, and mindfully
  • Eat as if you were dining with your cardiologist and dentist!
  • Get sufficient quality and quantity of sleep to help keep the pounds off
  • Avoid late night meals and excessive snacking
  • Eat only when physically hungry with the goal of satiety, not fullness
  • Stay well hydrated as it is easy to confuse hunger with thirst
  • Exercise portion control, especially at restaurants where portions are often supersized
  • Order dressings and sauces on the side to avoid drowning salads and pasta with needless calories
  • Keep healthy foods accessible
  • Perishable food with a limited shelf life is much healthier than non-perishable items that last indefinitely, as do many processed items
  • Read nutritional labels as carefully as if you were reading the label on a bottle of medicine
  • Avoid foods that contain unfamiliar, unpronounceable, or numerous ingredients
  • Avoid foods that make health claims, since real foods do not have to make claims as their wholesomeness is self-evident
  • Avoid food with preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, artificial colors, etc.
  • “Organic” does not always imply healthy or low-calorie
  • Use small plates and bowls to create the illusion of having “more” on your plate
  • Let the last thing you eat before sleep be healthy, natural, and wholesome (e.g., a piece of fruit)

Wishing you the best of health,

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Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro AreaInside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community. He is a urologist at New Jersey Urology, the largest urology practice in the United States.  He is the co-founder of PelvicRx and Private Gym.  His latest book is Prostate Cancer 20/20: A Practical Guide to Understanding Management Options for Patients and Their Families. 

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Video trailer for Prostate Cancer 20/20

Preview of Prostate Cancer 20/20

Andrew Siegel MD Amazon author page

PROSTATE CANCER 20/20 is now available at Audible, iTunes and Amazon as an audiobook read by the author (just over 6 hours). 

Dr. Siegel’s other books:

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual, and Urinary Health


MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health

PROMISCUOUS EATING— Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

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