Prostate cancer can be a devastating diagnosis. Each year, thousands of people pass away due to prostate cancer.
Among men, this is considered one of the more common types of cancers to affect the body. An estimated 248,530 prostate cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2021. In the same year, it is estimated that 34,130 men will die due to prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is localized in the majority of cases. This means the cancerous cells only affect the prostate gland. In some men, however, metastasis occurs. This means the cancer cells start to spread to other parts of the body.
There are different treatments available for prostate cancer. Some lifestyle factors can also make a difference. Adopting a prostate cancer diet, for example, could help manage the disease. This type of diet may also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
We take a look at what people should eat if they received a prostate cancer diagnosis. In this post, the tips we offer are also helpful for men who find themselves at a high risk of this cancer.
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Diet And Prostate Cancer
“We are what we eat – this is a phrase that has become quite popular, yet many people fail to realize how true it is. While many references to the phrase relate to evolution, the foods we eat ultimately contribute to good or bad health.
Certain foods can contribute to low-grade inflammation, obesity, and even the development of cancer. Some experts believe that a poor diet is behind some of the most common chronic diseases.
With this in mind, we should consider a possible relationship between diet and prostate cancer. With the right diet, the body gains access to the nutrients it needs to function properly. This type of diet would also reduce exposure to chemicals that may lead to the growth of cancerous cells.
Research On The Relationship Between Diet And Prostate Cancer
There are a few studies that have looked at this potential link. These studies have found that what a person eats does seem to impact their likeliness to develop cancer. One study, in particular, considered the effect of diet on IGF-I levels in the human body. The study only lasted for 11 days but offered valuable insight.
The participants in the study were introduced to the Pritikin diet. This diet focuses on whole grains, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Fat content in the diet is much lower than some of the other diets that people tend to follow. All participants in the study were men.
IGF-I was tested before and after the study. A significant reduction in IGF-I was found after the male participants followed this diet for just 11 days.
IGF-I is a factor that is related to the risk of cancer in the body. There is a relation between IGF-I and prostate cancer too.
Current evidence suggests that a special diet may be able to:
- Reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men
- Reduce the likeliness of prostate cancer progressing
- Improve the outcome of a prostate cancer treatment plan
With these factors in mind, men should learn about the foods that promote prostate health while also fighting against cancer. Additionally, a man needs to understand what foods in their diet contribute to a higher likeliness of this disease.
Dietary Guidelines For Prostate Cancer
Consider these guidelines recommended for men managing prostate cancer. By optimizing their current dieting habits according to these guidelines, the risk of cancer can be effectively reduced. There will also be a reduced risk of cancer progression in men who have been diagnosed with the disease before.
Here is an overview of the guidelines set out for prostate cancer patients:
- The diet should primarily focus on the inclusion of plant-based food. You can still include animal foods in your diet, but in moderation.
- It is important to eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. In fact, it is advised to have as many as 10 servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
- Fiber should also form an important part of a man’s prostate cancer diet.
- Men should aim to reduce the number of fats in their diet. You should avoid saturated fats as much as possible.
- The consumption of simple sugars also needs to be limited. These sugars are harmful to the body, leads to low-grade inflammation, and may aggravate prostate cancer.
- The man should also ensure they drink enough fluids to keep their body hydrated at all times.
The Western diet is known for its high consumption of red meat, processed meat, pre-packaged foods, butter, candy, sweets, and fried foods. This diet is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and obesity, leading to additional health complications.
Many of the dietary guidelines follow the principles of a Mediterranean diet. This diet focuses on fresh and whole foods instead of food items that have been processed.
10 Foods To Eat
The positive aspect of modifying your diet after a prostate cancer diagnosis is the flexibility it offers, with fewer restrictions than one might anticipate.
Here, we provide a comprehensive list of food categories suitable for a prostate cancer-friendly diet. These foods are good for the body, high in nutritional value, and offer enough fiber to help support the digestive tract. Many of the foods are rich in antioxidants too. Antioxidants are chemicals that fight off free radicals – compounds that have been associated with cancer.
1) Vegetables And Fruit
Fruits and vegetables should form the basis of a prostate cancer diet. The cancer patient should try to include as many foods in this category as possible. All types of fruits and vegetables are good. These foods are high in vitamins and minerals. They also offer additional plant-based chemicals, which may yield a variety of benefits for the body.
Some foods contain cancer-fighting ingredients as well.
Here are a few tips for choosing fruits and vegetables.
Mushrooms are an excellent plant-based source of vitamin D. This vitamin has many important roles to play in the body. In one study, researchers found that men with a low level of the vitamin had a 200% increased risk for aggressive prostate cancer. Those with higher levels of vitamin D are more likely to be diagnosed with localized prostate cancer than a more advanced or aggressive type of the disease.
3) Cruciferous Vegetables
One study found that cruciferous vegetables seem to be linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer. Researchers looked at numerous population-based studies that were previously conducted. They found that populations with a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables have lower prostate cancer rates among men. A few examples of cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, bok choy, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage.
Some studies show tomatoes may also hold cancer-fighting properties. Researchers currently suggest that lycopene produces this action in tomatoes. Lycopene is a natural pigment that causes tomatoes to have a bright red color. You can also opt for tomatoes that have been processed into a paste or juice. The cancer-fighting properties are not lost with these processes.
Grapes have a chemical called resveratrol. This chemical has been a focal point in numerous studies. It is a powerful antioxidant that seems to promote human well-being. Some studies have also found that resveratrol in grapes and red wine may help to fight off cancer. Laboratory studies show that resveratrol may inhibit cellular damage associated with the development of cancer.
Beans are also good for people with prostate cancer. Some laboratory tests showed that specific phytochemicals found in beans might slow down the growth rate of tumors. These studies also found that the phytochemicals could protect nearby cells against damage from tumors, meaning the chemicals may reduce the risk of cancer spreading to other tissues.
7) Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark green leafy veggies also hold chemicals that may serve as cancer-fighting agents in the human body. These foods include spinach, lettuce, chard, chicory, mustard greens, and kale. The vegetables are rich in carotenoids, as well as fiber and folate.
The ellagic acid in raspberries and strawberries can also be useful in men with cancer risk. This chemical could possibly reduce the growth of prostate cancer cells. It could also help by inhibiting the activity of substances known to contribute to cancer.
Fiber needs to be included in any diet that a person decides to follow. It is a type of carbohydrate that the body does not process or absorb. Instead, the fiber content in food travels throughout the gastrointestinal tract. It helps to clean the gut and keep the digestive system working properly.
There are a few reasons why a man with prostate cancer should include fiber in their diet, including:
- Fiber binds to carcinogens. These compounds cause damage to cells. The cellular damage caused by carcinogens may result in the development of cancer.
- In addition to binding to carcinogens, fiber also sticks to certain toxins in the body. When attached, the fiber expells from the body, along with these compounds.
- Fiber assists in regulating the number of hormones that are present in the body. While hormones are essential, high amounts of certain hormones, such as testosterone, may increase prostate cancer risk.
- Research indicates that fiber may contribute to slowing the growth rate of cancerous tumors in the prostate gland. In one study, there was a reduction in cancer growth after just 10 days of introducing individuals to a high-fiber diet.
It is advised to get between 25 and 35 grams of fiber each day. Some breads are high in fiber. Whole grains are also great sources of fiber, such as amaranth, oats, millet, quinoa, barley, and bulgur. There are other ways to increase fiber intake too. By including a variety of fruits and vegetables in a diet, fiber intake would already increase.
10) Healthy Fats
There are different types of fat that we consume. Some of these fats are good for the body, but not all are. Certain fats are actually bad for health. These fats may contribute to obesity, cause inflammation, and result in a higher risk of prostate cancer.
Omega 3 fatty acids are some of the healthiest fats a person can include in their diet. Some studies show that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for men who are at risk of prostate cancer. A significant reduction in prostate cancer risk is seen among men who consume enough omega-3 fatty acids. In some studies, the risk lowers by approximately 40%.
Fish is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids. There are different kinds of fish that a person can choose to consume for this healthy fat. Salmon and herring are two popular options. Sardines and trout also contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
In addition to fish, there are other ways to increase a person’s intake of omega-3 fatty acids too. This includes consuming flaxseeds and soybeans. Walnuts are also known for being high in these fatty acids, along with canola oil.
Foods To Avoid
The fact that there is a wide variety of foods that can be consumed when prostate cancer is a concern means men have a lot to experiment with. There are, however, some restrictions that men should realize. Certain foods need to be limited or sometimes completely removed from a diet. These are the foods that contain compounds that may increase the man’s risk for prostate cancer.
There are two particular topics when looking at foods to avoid. This includes fat and simple sugars.
- Saturated fat and trans fat have been linked to heart disease, obesity, and other health problems. These fats also affect hormones that regulate the healing processes in the body. When this happens, cancer can grow at a faster rate. A link has been established been the consumption of red meat and prostate cancer. Red meat contains a lot of saturated animal fat, which is why a low fat diet comprising of fish and plant-based foods is highly recommended. There are also dairy products that contain saturated fats, such as milk and butter. Salad dressing is another culprit when looking at foods that are high in saturated fats.
- Simple sugars refer to foods that are processed. These simple sugars have no positive role in the body. They can, however, result in high blood sugar levels and cause a spike in insulin release. Foods that are high in simple sugars will generally be very low in nutrition and fiber. This means they do not contribute to any positive factors related to the person’s health. They can, however, result in a higher risk of cancer. Examples of foods that are high in simple sugars include cookies, pies, cake, and candy.
Apart from simple sugars and saturated fats, a man should also be aware that alcohol can reduce immunity and cause other complications. Men are still able to have a drink now and then but should try to limit the amount of alcohol they consume. Too much alcohol also leads to other problems, such as depression and high blood pressure.
Other Dietary Tips
Knowing what to eat and the foods that should be avoided is important for any man with a risk of prostate cancer and those who have been diagnosed with the condition. There are, however, other factors that also need to be considered.
In the context of diet and prostate cancer, considering the calorie intake is crucial. Being overweight can increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. Therefore maintaining a healthy weight through diet and regular physical activity is vital. A lot of men only focus on the fact that they should follow a healthy diet. While this is essential, take note that the right amount of calories may also be useful.
Calorie intake and prostate cancer risks
There are studies that have shown the effects of different calorie intake values on prostate cancer risk. In one study, researchers considered two groups of people. The first group consumed a minimum of 2,439 calories on a daily basis. The second group consumed a maximum of 1,322 calories per day.
2400+ Calories daily likely increase risks
Following statistical research, it was found that a higher calorie consumption increases the risk related to prostate cancer. The risk for localized prostate cancer increased by 115% among those who consumed more than 2,439 calories each day – this data was compared to the group who consumed a low number of calories.
Another study considered the difference between a diet that included 1,064 calories and another diet that had 2,624 or more calories. The risk of prostate cancer was four times higher among the men who consumed the higher number of calories.
With these factors in mind, it is important that men consider their calorie intake, along with the food they consume. Eating too many calories may negatively impact the prostate gland and essentially increase the likeliness of cancer cells growing in this part of the body.
It is not necessary to restrict calories too much. The first step should be for the man to determine how many calories he needs each day. This number should not be exceeded. If the man has excess weight, he should consider adopting a calorie deficit diet temporarily. This means he will eat fewer calories than he burns. The result is a reduction in body weight. Once this goal has been achieved, the man can return to a balanced calorie diet.
Fluids also form a critical element in a person’s prostate cancer diet. Numerous research studies find that people often do not drink enough water every day. Fluids in the body play numerous roles in general health. When a person drinks enough fluids, nutrients can be distributed through the body more effectively. Fluids also help to ensure waste products in the body can be removed, reducing the effects of a toxic buildup.
Apart from carrying waste products out of the body and distributing nutrients to all cells, there are other reasons why fluids are important too. Some of these reasons include:
- There are certain chemical reactions in the body that depend on the presence of adequate fluids.
- Fluids serve as cushioning at the joints. This reduces pressure when moving. The fluids also act as a type of lubricant in joints at the hip, fingers, knee, ankle, and other parts of the body.
- The presence of fluids protects the spinal cord. The fluids that are present in this area create a shock-absorbent effect. Fluids have a similar role to play in the eyes.
- Fluids also maintain blood volume. When a man fails to drink enough fluids, their blood volume may start to decline.
- Temperature regulation in the body also depends on fluids. When there are insufficient fluids, then temperature regulation may become faulty.
Hydration aids in transporting nutrients from food to various parts of the body, including the prostate gland. When a man drinks an adequate amount of fluids, then the cancer-fighting chemicals in food can reach the prostate gland. These chemicals primarily consist of antioxidants, which help to reduce the effects of free radicals on cells.
What a person eats plays a significant role in their general well-being. Certain foods have been shown to increase the risk of cancer cells forming in the human body. On the other hand, some foods may be effective for prostate cancer prevention.
Men with prostate cancer should adopt a diet that consists of healthy foods. Avoiding certain foods can also be useful for these men. We looked at the formulation of an appropriate diet for men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and those who want to reduce their risk.