Nutrition for Prostate Health

Differences in diet and lifestyle may account for the variability of prostate cancer rates in different countries. Good nutrition may help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer, slow progression of the disease and prevent aggressive disease.

In this section, we discuss guidelines for a healthy diet for good prostate health and guidelines for a healthy diet while in treatment for prostate cancer. These tips, however, should never be used as a replacement for treatment

Healthy Diets

We do know that improved nutrition reduces risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, which can improve overall quality of life.  It’s estimated that a third of cancer deaths in the United States can be attributed to diet in adults, including diet’s effect on obesity.  Additionally, a healthy diet helps to increase energy levels, facilitate recovery and enhance the immune system. According to the World Health Organization, a person with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more is considered obese.

Experts now believe choices about our diet account for the vast majority of prostate cancer cases. It’s important to evaluate diet choices when it comes to risk of prostate cancer. Scientists have slowly uncovered a list of cancer super foods and supplements to optimize in your diet while also discovering foods and supplements that actually contribute to cancer risk and aggression.

Diets for Prostate Health

Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

Your diet should be:

Primarily plant based
Include plenty of fruits and vegetables
High in fiber
Low in fat
Limited in the amount of simple sugars

In addition to a Healthy Diet:

Drink adequate fluids
Be physically active to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight

Diet Tips for Prostate Health

Fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of cancer-fighting and inflammation-reducing substances like vitamins, polyphenols, and antioxidants, mineral and natural fiber. Most men and women do not consume the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables. If you are working to change the way you eat, aim to make manageable changes.

Try to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  • Cruciferous Vegetables (includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale and cabbage) have phytochemicals that reduce Oxidative stress or oxygen free radicals in the body which means a lower risk of prostate cancer and its aggression.
  • Carrots are rich in nutrients and contain antioxidants beta-carotene and falcarinol that reduce the risk of cancer.
  • Tomatoes are a rich source of a phytochemical called lycopene which attacks free radicals helping the body lower the risk of prostate cancer and its aggression.
  • Mushrooms help fight cancer by building the immune system with a supply of compounds called beta glucan and proteins called lectin which have shown to attack cancer cells.
  • Pomegranates, particularly pomegranate juice, have shown to slow PSA doubling time and may help prevent prostate cancer recurrence after primary treatment.
  • Grapes and grape juice are rich sources of resveratrol, a type of natural phytochemical that belongs to a larger group of phytochemicals called polyphenols that possess potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Grapefruit contain several phytochemicals including narigenin, limonin, beta-carotene and lycopene.
  • Oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits help protect against DNA-damaging free radicals because they contain hundreds of bioactive compounds including flavonoids and monoterpenes.
  • Avocados contain the highest amount of the carotenoid luteinutein of all common fruit.
  • Peppers and Jalapenos contain a chemical, capsaicin, which neutralizes certain cancer substances.
  • Apples are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and contain quercetin, a flavonoid that shows both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Berries (Raspberries and Blueberries) are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, manganese and a good source of fiber and blueberries are among the fruits highest in antioxidant power because of the many phytochemicals they contain.
It is recommended to consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (Preferably 8 to 10 servings) for their cancer protective effects. 1 serving of fruits or vegetables is:
  • ½ cup of fruit or vegetables
  • 1 cup of raw leafy greens
  • ¼ of dried fruit or vegetables
  • 6 fluid ounces of fruit or vegetable juice
It is recommended to consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily.
  • Choose food made with whole grain over processed foods
  • Choose breads with 3 or more grams of fiber per slice.
  • The first ingredient on the label should be whole or sprouted grain flour or unbleached white flour.
  • Include whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, corn, whole wheat bread, barley, bulgar, kasha, millet, faro, and quinoa.

Diets high in red meat, dairy products and animal fat have frequently been connected with the development of prostate cancer. Red meat is particularly tied to aggressive prostate cancer.

Key Points about Fats
  • Most researchers agree to aim for 20% of your total daily calories from fat
  • With less than 10% of total calories from saturated fats
  • Less fat is better
  • When using oil to cook, Olive Oil is preferred
  • Avoid hydrogenated fats
  • Increase dietary omega-3 fatty acids
Seek Plant Protein
  • Plant-Based protein like beans, flax and nuts contain quercetin and lignans that suppress the growth of many kinds of cancer including prostate cancer.

Green tea contains polyphenols and flavonoids which are strong antioxidants. Tea is the best source of catechins which are being studied for their anti-cancer properties. Green tea has shown to slow and/or prevent the development of prostate cancer.

Cutting down on sugary carbonated beverages and drinking water can speed metabolism and flush the body of cancer-causing substances.

Organically grown food is free of harmful chemicals and pesticides, including BPA, a known prostate cancer carcinogen. Organically grown foods have more nutrients and usually taste better.

Maintaining Good Nutrition During and After Treatment

Maintaining a healthy diet can help you prepare for and recover after cancer treatment.  It may also help to prevent the prostate cancer from coming back. Watching your weight may reduce your risk of dying from prostate cancer. Recent studies have indicated that the risk of dying from prostate cancer is more than double in obese men diagnosed with the disease compared with men of normal weight at the time of diagnosis. Obese men with local or regional disease have been shown to have nearly four times the risk of their cancer spreading beyond the prostate or metastasizing.

Prostate cancer treatment may affect your appetite, eating habits, and weight, but it is important for you to maintain a healthy weight, get essential nutrients, and remain as physically active as possible. If you have difficulty eating due to side effects from treatment, there are ways to make eating more comfortable. Working with a registered dietician/nutritionist (RDN) can help make sure you are getting the nutrition you need.

Unfortunately it is possible for side effects from surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy to cause you to lose your appetite, eat less and loose weight. On the other hand, some treatments, such as androgen deprivation therapy may cause weight gain for some men.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. For many men, this means avoiding weight loss by getting enough calories on a daily basis. For men who are overweight and are obese, this may mean losing some weight. If you are trying to lose weight, it should be moderate, meaning only about a pound a week.
  • Get essential nutrients the body needs, such as protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, such as carotenoids, and water. Not only will your body function better, you will feel better.
  • Be as active as you can, such as taking a daily walk. If you sit or sleep too much, you may lose muscle mass and increase your body fat, even if you are not gaining weight.

If you are struggling to eat enough or are eating too much, nutrition counseling may help you get essential nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals into your diet and maintain a healthy body weight. Ask your health care team for a referral to a registered dietitian or nutritionist. Dietitians and other members of the health care team work with people to meet their nutritional needs.

Cancer treatment often causes side effects, such as nausea, mouth sores, and taste changes that may make it difficult to eat or drink.  Follow these tips to help you get the nutrition you need:

  • If water tastes unpleasant to you, take in more liquid through items such as soup, tea, milk or milk substitutes such as almond milk, or a sports drink. Or, flavor your water by adding fresh cut fruit.
  • If food tastes bland, try seasoning it with flavorful spices such as garlic, cayenne, dill and rosemary.
  • Eat several small meals throughout the day instead of trying to eat large amounts of food at one time.
  • Enhance your protein intake with protein from foods such as fish, egg whites, cheese, beans, or high protein smoothies.
  • Suck on mints, chew on gum, or try fresh citrus fruits if you have a metallic taste in your mouth. Brushing your teeth before eating, using plastic utensils and cooking in glassware can also help.
  • If you have mouth sores or a gum infection, use a blender to make vegetables and meats smooth. Try juicing or making smoothies. Some side effects are often treated with medication, so talk with your doctor or another member of your health care team for more information.

People receiving cancer treatment need to be aware of food safety, because some treatments may weaken the immune system and lead to an infection. An infection occurs when harmful bacteria, viruses, or fungi, such as yeast, invade the body and the immune system is not able to destroy them quickly enough.  Here are some basic food safety tips to reduce the risk of infection.

  • Wash your hands before and during the handling and preparing of food.
  • Wash vegetables and fruit thoroughly before eating them.
  • Handle and store food appropriately. For example, keep raw meat away from other foods when cooking.
  • Eat thoroughly cooked foods. For example, do not eat eggs that are not cooked solid, and do not eat raw fish, oysters, or shellfish.
  • Avoid drinking unpasteurized beverages, such as unpasteurized cider, raw milk, and fruit juices.
  • Make sure food you purchase is not past its “sell-by” or expiration date.

Choosing to eat a diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables and other unprocessed, low-fat foods will help you regain strength after prostate cancer treatment. Nutritious eating can also reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. In addition, recent research suggests that making healthy food choices in your survivorship may lower your risk of recurrence and help you live longer. According to many experts, the types of foods recommended to help prevent prostate cancer are the same ones that protect against prostate cancer recurrence. These experts recommend eating plant-based food (such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), lean protein, and low-fat products, and avoiding highly processed foods and red meats as much as possible.

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