Eat right for a healthy reproductive system

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Fruits and vegetables are essential for a healthy reproductive system. / Lydia Atieno

Did you know that diet has a significant impact on both male and female reproductive health? Well, for a healthy functioning of your reproductive system, dieticians and nutritionists advise that paying more attention to what one consumes is very important.

For painless menstrual cycle

Joseph Uwiragiye, the head of the nutrition Department at University Teaching Hospital, Kigali, (CHUK), says a diet that provides daily fiber for an adult contributes significantly to preventing the pain and other variations of the menstrual cycle.

“To achieve this, consuming foods rich in fiber is ideal. Fiber is found only in plant-based foods such as fruits, greens and legumes, which are responsible in relieving pains during menstruation,” he says.

Uwiragiye notes that soy is also good as it contains phytoestrogens that regularise the menstrual cycle, prevent excessive prostate growth and reduce the risk of cancer.

In general, he says, all vegetable oils are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which, if taken as dietary supplements can reduce cramping and uterine pain.

Rene Tabaro, a dietician and nutritionist at King Faisal Hospital, Kigali, says different types of fruits contribute to a healthy reproductive system.

“Fruits such as oranges are good for reproductive system, because they help in stimulating the central nervous system, reduce cholesterol and increases circulation of blood,” he says.

However, he recommends that one should consume such fruits when they are fresh, with all vitamins and nutrients that are essential for improving reproductive health in general.

In women, according to Tabaro, increasing intake of fiber, vitamin A and E, while on the other hand reducing or eliminating completely foods such as meat, those with saturated fats and stimulated beverages, keeps one from developing diseases such as fibrocystic mastopathy, which is a breast disease.

For those with the problem of impotence, Ally Kambale, a general practitioner in Kigali, says the best way to go about it is increasing the intake of foods with antioxidants, wheat germ and zinc.

He cautions that staying away from alcohol beverages, cholesterol, saturated fat and stimulant beverages will ensure one staying away from the condition.

Just like Tabaro, Kambale says fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which help in preventing arteriosclerosis and improve blood flow to the arteries which supply the erectile tissue of the male organs.

He adds that green leafy vegetables are filled with nutrients the body needs to sustain a healthy reproductive system.

“For instance, they contain multivitamins including high calcium, vitamin D and magnesium. Spinach is also for the reproductive system because it has a large amount of vital minerals, including iron,” Kambale says.

Uwiragiye also says one should also consume ginger and garlic.

“They are ideal because they increase blood circulation and stimulate energy flow throughout the body. In fact, they help in opening up of blood vessels, accelerate blood flow and stimulate the nervous system,” he notes.

Prostate gland

According to Isaac Bikorimana, a nutritionist at Kibagabaga Hospital, Kigali, maintance of sexual potency requires one to eat foods rich in vitamins A, C and E.

“This is because such foods are vegetable in nature with great antioxidant power that ensures a good reproductive system,” he says.

Bikorimana points out that men at the age of 50 and above are prone to getting a condition known as prostatic adenoma, which is the enlargement of the prostate gland.

To avoid this, he advises that eating foods such as tomatoes, soy, nuts, zinc and fiber while reducing intake of spices and coffee can postpone and relieve hypertrophy of the prostate gland.

“For instance, tomatoes are also prescriptive in recipes for the male reproductive system due to the presence of lycopene, a carotene-based substance that gives tomatoes their red color, and serves as an antioxidant and protector of the prostate gland,” he says.

Bikorimana adds that the reproductive functions for both sexes can also be enhanced in natural ways.

“Breast and prostate cancer are just among the common cancers in today’s generation, the main cause being the lifestyles people are leading. But with the right feeding, all this can be prevented,” he says.

Bikorimana says the formation of thromboses in the arteries can be prevented when one consumes soy. Soybean further inhibits the formation of thrombin, a substance that initiates platelet stickiness.

According to nutritionists, consuming soybean prevents and relieves the symptoms that come along with menopause.

Additionally, soybean also favours hormonal balance, making it an excellent nutritional source for pregnant women.

The combination of protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and phytochemical elements help in protection against breast and prostate cancer.