In a previous article, Understanding Prostate Health Issues, we provided information about the prostate and how specific prostate issues may affect you. As you age, your risk for prostate issues increases.
In this article, we discuss diet and lifestyle tips for keeping you and your prostate healthy.
Focus on a Healthy Diet Pattern
Instead of focusing on certain foods or nutrients, think about your diet as a whole. Are you eating plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains? Or do you tend to skip vegetables and fruit and turn to more processed foods (such as chips, cookies, processed meats) for a quick meal or snack?
Some days are harder than others to eat well. Aim to follow these guidelines on most days to achieve an overall healthy diet.
Eat More Vegetables and Fruits
Eating enough vegetables and fruit is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself healthy. Most vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients beneficial for prostate and overall health. Another benefit of eating more fruits and vegetables is that their fiber and water content fills you up and may keep you from making unhealthy choices.
To incorporate more vegetables and fruit into your diet, consider adding an extra serving of vegetables to each meal, and have fruit as a healthy snack. Choose from all color categories (green, yellow/orange, red/purple, and white) to get a good variety of nutrients. Here are some ideas.
- Start your day off right with a delicious vegetable omelet or egg scramble. Sautee some onions, peppers, spinach, kale, or vegetables of choice and cook together with your eggs. Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and seasoning, and you’re ready for breakfast.
- Top your yogurt, oatmeal, or whole-grain cereal with blueberries, strawberries, or other fruit to add a touch of sweetness and a nutritional boost. Create a spectacular salad with dark leafy greens and lots of colorful vegetables. Add a sprinkle of cheese, sunflower seeds, and balsamic vinaigrette (or dressing of choice) for a vegetarian lunch.
- Snack on broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and other vegetables dipped in hummus.
- Enjoy a seasonal fresh fruit for a snack or dessert, such as peaches, watermelon, or berries in the summer, or apples in the fall.
- Roast various vegetables to bring out their flavor and enjoy them along with a good source of protein such as fish or poultry. Add a baked sweet potato for a delicious, satisfying dinner.
Replace Animal Fats with Healthy Plant-based Fats
Aim to eat less animal fat (think high-fat meat and dairy) by replacing it with healthier fats (such as avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and canola oil). Researchers do not fully understand the relationship between animal fat intake and the risk of prostate issues. However, we know that diets low in animal fat but higher in plant sources of fat, such as the Mediterranean Diet, have numerous health benefits. This style of eating can lower blood pressure while boosting heart, brain, and prostate health.
Reduce the amount of animal fat in your diet by choosing leaner cuts of meats such as chicken breasts, an eye of round steak or brisket, and cutting off any fat you see on meats before cooking. One exception to limiting animal fats is omega-3 fats from fish. These essential fats have anti-inflammatory effects and many health benefits. Include these superfoods (omega-3 rich fish such as salmon, albacore tuna, and sardines) in your weekly diet.
Use olive oil for cooking rather than butter, margarine, or lard. Sprinkle nuts or seeds on your salad and add avocado to salads and sandwiches. Use lemon juice or balsamic vinegar with a little olive oil as a healthier salad dressing. As you can see, just a few small changes can help boost the healthy fats you eat.
Make Most of Your Grains Whole
Whole grains are grains that have all three parts (the bran, germ, and endosperm) intact, in the same proportion as when the grain was growing in the field. Most whole grains are naturally rich in minerals, B vitamins, and fiber. In contrast, refined grains have been stripped of one or more of their parts. As a result, refined grains have substantially less fiber, protein, and other nutrients than whole grains.
Whole grains have many health benefits, including for the heart, prostate, and blood sugar control. Examples of whole grains include oats, whole wheat, buckwheat, quinoa, and several others. Here are some tips on eating whole grains.
- Buy whole-wheat or whole grain bread over white. Be careful only to choose those that list “whole” on the label. There are plenty of wheat breads on the store shelves that are not whole-grain and are low in fiber and nutrients.
- Eat oatmeal or whole-grain cereal for breakfast. When choosing cold cereal, look for kinds that have at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
- Try a new quinoa dish, such as this fiber-rich black bean quinoa recipe.
- If you like to bake, experiment with different whole grain flours (whole wheat, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, brown rice, oat, amaranth, and others) in place of all-purpose flour.
- Replace white rice and pasta with brown rice and whole-wheat pasta.
Limit Added Sugars
Eating too many sugary foods can lead to weight gain and various health problems. Added sugars are sugars or syrups that are added to foods when they are processed or prepared. Naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in fruit, vegetables, and milk, are less of a health concern.
Many of us eat a lot more added sugar than we need, and it is easy to understand why. Most of our packaged or processed foods and beverages contain more sugar than you might guess. Even foods that do not seem sweet (such as pasta sauce, ketchup, and other condiments, flavored yogurt) are likely to contain added sugar. Overeating added sugar makes it difficult to stick to a healthy eating pattern. Sugar provides you with calories, but no essential nutrients.
You don’t have to give up all added sugar. Instead, make some healthy choices to limit your sugar intake.
- Limit soda, juices, and other sweetened beverages. If you are used to drinking these every day, start by decreasing the size of your drink (from 16 to 8 ounces, for example), and drinking it less often.
- If you add sugar to coffee or tea, decrease the amount slowly until you can eliminate it.
- Replace sugar-sweetened beverages with low or no sugar alternatives such as water, fruit-flavored seltzers, or tea.
- Check labels for added sugars, which are now listed in Nutrition Facts Panels. Added sugars can be listed in the ingredients as many names, including brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, and turbinado sugar.
Exercise Every Day
A healthy prostate is not all you have to gain from regular exercise. Exercise helps reduce stress and tension, keeps hormone levels healthy, and improves bone health and immune function. Exercise can also help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, which benefits your prostate.
If you do not already exercise, speak with a healthcare provider to determine what activities are best for you. You can slowly increase your physical activity level in some simple ways. For example, park your car further away from where you are going, and take the stairs instead of the elevator.
A good goal is to aim for 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity five days a week for 150 minutes each week. Eating a healthy diet and living an active lifestyle can promote prostate and overall health, reducing your risk for prostate issues.