Prostate health is a common concern for men, and for good reason. An enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), affects about 50% of men over age 60. Current estimates on prostate cancer indicate that about 1 in 7 men born today will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in his lifetime. Fortunately, there are a lot of lifestyle changes that can protect prostate health, as well as general health.
- Eat your vegetables. Vegetables are full of a rainbow of cancer- fighting compounds, fiber, nutrients, and other substances that fight inflammation. They reduce your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, and also help keep your diet on track.
- Limit carcinogens. Carcinogens are substances that encourage the growth of cancer. These are most potent in tobacco products and charred or grilled meats. When grilling, cook food to a safe temperature without overcooking, and try more plant-based options like grilled vegetables, corn on the cob, tempeh, or veggie burgers.
- Skip the sugar. Simple sugars contribute to weight gain, and may also support prostate cancer growth. Try to limit the sugary drinks, fruit juice, and sweets. Focus instead on higher fiber carbohydrate options like vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.
- Be more active. Regular exercise will not only help you reach a healthy weight, but also increases antioxidant compounds in your body, and reduces your risk of both BPH and prostate cancer.
- Protect your muscles. Muscle mass can decrease as we age, especially if we become less active or take hormone therapy for prostate cancer. Incorporate strength training, consume adequate amounts of lean protein, and avoid crash diets that rob your body of adequate fuel.
- Work toward a healthy weight. Excess body fat, especially abdominal or “belly” fat, increases your risk of both BPH and prostate cancer. Try to reduce excess body fat gradually through increased physical activity and positive diet changes.
Taking control of your diet may benefit not only your prostate, but also your overall health and well-being.