health care

8 Dietary Guidelines for Prostate Health

1. Consume at Least Five Servings of Fruits and Vegetables Daily

  • They contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber as well as various cancer-fighting phytochemicals, such as carotenoids, lycopene, indoles, and flavonols.
  • There is consistent evidence that diets high in fruits and vegetables are associated with decreased risks of many cancers. While results for prostate cancer risk are not yet conclusive, they are promising.
  • Men who consumed at least 28 servings of vegetables per week had a reduced risk of prostate cancer compared with those who ate fewer than 14 servings per week.
  • There is some evidence that vegetables — particularly cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy — may be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
  • Men who ate three or more servings of cruciferous vegetables per week had a 41 percent decreased risk of prostate cancer compared with men who ate less than one serving per week.
  • The benefit of fruits and vegetables in regards to cancer protection may be related to high amounts of carotenoids in certain fruits and vegetables, according to some key population studies.
  • One study indicated that fructose, or fruit sugar, resulted in a lower risk of prostate cancer.

What to Do: Consume at least five, preferably eight to 10, servings of fruits and vegetables daily for their cancer-protective effects. One serving equates to:

  • 1/2 cup fruit or vegetable
  • 1 cup raw leafy greens
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit or vegetable
  • 6 fluid ounces of fruit or vegetable juice

2. Consume 25 to 35 Grams of Fiber Daily

A plant-based diet is naturally high in fiber, which has a number of benefits:

  • Fiber may bind to toxic compounds and carcinogens, which are then later eliminated from the body.
  • A high-fiber diet works to reduce hormone levels that may be involved in the progression of prostate cancer.
  • One study indicated that a high-fiber, low-fat diet followed only for 10 days resulted in serum changes that reduced the growth of prostate cancer.
  • Prostate cancer mortality is inversely associated with consumption of cereals and nuts or seeds, according to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
  • A diet rich in natural fiber obtained from fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains such as whole-grain cereals and bread may reduce cancer risk and reduce the risk of prostate cancer progression.

What to Do: Aim for 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily. To get more fiber, choose bread with three or more grams of fiber per slice. The first ingredient on the label should be whole or sprouted grain flour, not white flour or unbleached white flour. Also, include whole grains — such as oats, barley, quinoa, amaranth, bulgur, and millet — in your diet.

3. Eat a Low-Fat Diet

  • The increased cancer risk observed in developed countries may be, in part, due to the fact that a high-fat diet stimulates increased testosterone levels, which is known to be associated with prostate cancer growth.
  • A comprehensive review reported that 24 of 32 studies found positive, although not all statistically significant, associations between dietary fat intake and prostate cancer risk.
  • Prospective studies to date, however, have failed to find a consistent association between prostate cancer and overall fat intake.

Aim for 20 percent of your total calories from fat, with less than 10 percent of total calories from saturated fat.

The type of fat is significant. According to research conducted by UC San Francisco Medical Center, several studies indicate a positive association between saturated fat intake from meat and dairy products and prostate cancer.

Intakes of red meat and dairy products appear also to be related to increased risk of metastatic prostate cancer. Therefore, it is wise to reduce or eliminate consumption of red meat, milk and other dairy products.

What to Do: Reduce or eliminate consumption of red meat, milk and other dairy products. Limit the use of butter, mayonnaise, baked goods and regular salad dressing due to their high saturated fat and total fat content. Consider rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice or salsa as alternative salad dressings. Limit cheese consumption. Cheese is typically between 60 to 80 percent fat, much of which is saturated fat.

4. Eat Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce your risks for prostate cancer and cancer progression. They induce apoptosis (cell death), suppress cancer cell initiation and compete with arachidonic acid, which limits harm from arachidonic acid. One study indicated that men who consumed cold-water fish three to four times per week had a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

A more recent study found similar results. Men who consumed fish three or more times per week also had a lower risk of prostate cancer, especially for metastatic prostate cancer where the effect was even greater.

Researchers in New Zealand reported that men with high levels of EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fats found in fish, had a 40 percent lower risk of prostate cancer than those with low blood levels.

A 30-year follow-up study found that men who ate no fish had a two to three times higher frequency of prostate cancer than those who ate moderate or high amounts of fish. The mechanism of cancer reduction may occur through the inhibition of arachidonic acid-derived eicosanoid biosynthesis.

Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include coldwater fish — such as salmon, trout, herring and sardines — flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans, and canola oil.

What to Do: Consume fish at least twice weekly to obtain an adequate amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

5. Consume Nuts

Nuts are highly concentrated in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are neutral in terms of stimulating cancer growth and may be beneficial for heart disease. They are, however, high in fat.

What to Do: Minimize consumption of nuts due to their high-fat content. This includes peanuts, macadamia nuts, and pistachios.

6. Limit Simple Sugars

High-sugar foods are usually:

  • Highly processed and refined
  • Low in nutrient value
  • Low in fiber

Furthermore, these foods appear to increase serum insulin and serum IGF-I levels, which may stimulate cancer cell growth.

What to Do: Simple sugars should be consumed in limited amounts. Avoid sweets such as candy, cookies, cakes, and pies. Limit your intake of products made with refined flours.

7. Drink Plenty of Water

  • Carries nutrients and waste products
  • Participates in chemical reactions
  • Acts as a lubricant and cushion around joints
  • Acts as a shock absorber in the eyes and spinal cord
  • Aids in the body’s temperature regulation
  • Maintains blood volume

In addition, the body needs more fluid when eating a high-fiber diet.

What to Do: Drink plenty of water daily to help meet fluid needs. Note that caffeine acts as a diuretic, increasing water loss. Your fluid needs increase with high consumption of caffeinated beverages.

8. Avoid Consuming Too Many Calories

Some evidence indicates that a high caloric intake increases one’s risk of various cancers, including prostate cancer.

A case-control study reported a 115 percent increase risk in local prostate cancer and a 96 percent increase risk in regional/distant prostate cancer for those consuming higher calorie diets (2,439 or more calories a day) compared with individuals consuming a lower calorie diet (less than 1,322 calories a day).

In a separate study, researchers reported a nearly four-fold increase in prostate cancer risk in men who consumed the most calories (more than 2,624 calories a day) compared with men who consumed the least calories (1,064 calories a day).

An earlier study found that caloric intake was positively associated with preclinical prostate cancer risk; as caloric intake increased, cancer risk rose significantly.

The greatest risk was for subjects who consumed more than 3,475 calories a day. All of this suggests that the mechanism involved may be related to the decrease in IGF-I observed when caloric intake is restricted.

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