A lot of us have visited the doctor and come home with a badly photocopied packet of information on how to reduce the prostatitis symptoms. Among those grainy-looking recommendations is a reduction of some of your favorite foods and drinks.
Not all of these are bad advice. But as the doctor who wrote this never mentioned having fought through CPPS, or having tried all of their recommendations, I’d like to add my own experience and answer some common questions I’ve been getting.
Caffeine is America’s favorite psychoactive drug. While some of us synthesize it in high school science labs, most Americans just buy coffee – and spend an average of $1100 on it annually. But can caffeine cause or worsen CPPS symptoms?
Caffeine can and will increase your body’s release of the stress hormone cortisol. And back when I first got CPPS symptoms, I drank two big mugs of full-strength ordinary coffee (400+ mg caffeine) PLUS another 12 oz. of cold-brewed coffee mid-morning (about 312 mg caffeine). The result was…the jitters. And I peed more – at least hourly.
But was my pain worse because of CPPS? Not decisively. But the jitters and perpetual peeing weren’t a welcome side effect, so I backed off to one cup of coffee and less cold press. I also stopped using caffeine after 1 PM. I didn’t want any residual effects keeping me up at night. If anything will contribute to stress and anxiety levels, it’s continually crappy sleep.
There are, of course, different tolerance levels. When I worked at Caribou Coffee years ago, I met a lot of Alcoholic Anonymous members who drained 40 ounces of cold press a night before heading to bed. And growing up, some of my father’s bus drivers downed two to three pots of coffee apiece every day (and often smoked a full pack of cigarettes).
My summary: caffeine does not cause CPPS, but it probably makes it slightly worse when consumed in high doses. Try reducing your intake and see what happens. If you need something to sip, try decaf, or half-caf.
Spicy foods, acidic foods, and hot peppers
You can treat all three of these as “acidic foods,” which have mostly the same consequences. It burns going in, it may burn inside, and it may burn coming out.
According to Dr. Song, “Hot peppers derive their spiciness from capsaicin, which can increase rectal sensitivity in people with irritable bowel syndrome, a condition that is frequently found in men with CP/CPPS.”
When the article mentions “rectal sensitivity,” they’re talking about “round two.”
A couple of years ago, two friends and I sat down to eat chicken wings with ghost pepper sauce. I tried them last, and I knew they were powerful because my chatterbox friend stopped talking after he ate one. Now, he’s a stoic warrior and all he did was smile, but when I ate one, my mouth became an oven, starting at warm and finishing at a portal into the flames of hell. I was not stoic. I was so pissed off that I remember swearing at my friends and renouncing our friendship.
After 11 minutes of agony, the pain subsided, and I wiped the tears from my eyes and took the laughing jerks back as friends. After we paid the tab, my stoic friend said, “good luck with round two.”
Round two is when you experience the spiciness a second time – as it leaves your body.
I never experienced that. But if you regularly polish a bag of chips with genuinely hot salsa, you probably will. I don’t know if it makes CPPS worse, but I do know that CPPS can include pain in the rectum, so adding more pain is like replacing a nail through the foot with a bigger nail through the foot. There are better ways to suffer.
However, if raw habaneros are your thing, they’re not going to affect most of your symptoms.
Acid reflux isn’t about acid surplus
Acidic food, hot peppers, and spicy food can all make your acid reflux worse. But here’s something you may not know: acid reflux isn’t caused by too much acid, but a lack thereof.
Your stomach is designed to create acid it can use to digest food. The pH levels do not reach the levels of xenomorph blood (think Aliens) as you create more of it. For most people, the problem with spicy and acidic foods is that your body doesn’t digest them fast enough, and the resulting gas as they ferment can actually push stomach contents back up the esophagus. And while the stomach is designed to be an acid pit, the esophagus is not.
If you’re having these problems, yes, reducing your acidic food will help, unless you like to pretend you’re the circus fire-eater. But if you have these problems, you probably already knew that, and yet you still have symptoms. At the forefront of nutritionists’ recommendations are:
- Reduce your consumption of grains, legumes, and sugars
- Supplement with a probiotic
- Consider adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your water before a meal
Now, back on track. Acidic food might make you more miserable if you’re getting acid reflux. So if it’s a problem, consider cutting back.
But here’s what I found: I used to get severe heartburn, and often food would get stuck in my throat. They had a common cause: anxiety. Stress is proven to affect acid reflux. So if you can learn to accept, adapt and overcome, that may be all you need to prevent acid reflux. If it’s not, you’ll need to know about wheat and gluten.
Wheat and Gluten
I am absolutely for avoiding wheat and gluten. I’ll put it to you this way: I used to be even more of a gasbag than I already am. I was a living fart monster. Any worse and I could have flown to and from work using my own propulsion. Jet engine companies would have paid me billions for my secret.
It was hard to conceal at Warrior’s Cove, where I used to train martial arts. But that was where somebody told me the answer. My aforementioned “stoic friend” walked in one day four-fifths of the man he used to be. He had dropped 65 pounds. His secret? The paleo diet.
Paleo has gone from being a fad to being almost passe. Ketogenic diets are all the rage now. But paleo is a better starting point for anybody to understand the philosophy as a whole. And among its most profitable ideas is getting rid of grains, legumes, and added sugars. Among that list, under grains, are wheat and gluten.
Gluten is the name for plant proteins found in all grains. Wheat is the most common, but gluten is also in rye, barley, and even beans. At varying levels depending on genetics, the human body confuses it for an intruder and increases inflammation. Not everybody is “gluten sensitive” or gets irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) from eating it, but everyone will experience some level of inflammation from eating gluten.
When I stopped eating grains, I stopped farting every three minutes. In fact, I stopped swelling up after training. It opened up a whole new level of performance for me. I lost weight, put on muscle, and felt better.
But you can’t just “cut out” these foods. If you’re getting ⅓ of your calories from grains, your body is going to say something grumpy if you just cut them out.
If you’re not read up on keto or low-carb high fat diets (which is essentially what I do), try replacing those grains with sweet potatoes and more vegetables, and don’t be shy about eating meat and extra fat. You can fine-tune the details later to lose extra weight. Just start by cutting out the worst offenders.
I’ll put (most of) you at ease. You don’t have to give up on your booze. But there are three circumstances to take seriously when it comes to alcohol, because two of them will make CPPS worse, and the other one is another sign you need to face-kick your inner demons.
If you’re drinking two or more drinks a night, your body may wake up more frequently as it processes the alcohol – and you will definitely wake up more often to pee.
If you’re drinking four or more drinks per night, you may be using alcohol to avoid facing a larger, deeper problem. I’m not saying you’re a drunk (although it is fun to pretend to be an old man yelling “you goddamned drunk!”), but there are varying levels of alcoholism, and consistently getting buzzed is one of them.
And don’t tell me “I drink because I have CPPS,” because CPPS starts with anxiety and poor movement patterns. Anxiety starts with other, unaddressed problems. You need to attack those to smash both CPPS or any form of chemical dependency.
Finally, beer is liquid grains. Grains are a solid way to trigger inflammation, and the same goes for any grain-based alcohol. Temporarily decreasing or eliminating your beer intake will improve your CPPS symptoms, but more than that it will speed your recovery.
This is hard news for beer connoisseurs. My suggestion is to save the beer for one day a week, and then buy the absolute best and savor it.