Ensuring your prostate health should be a priority for all men. Prostate cancer is one of the most common causes of death among men. In addition, an enlarged prostate can lead to problems like frequent and/or painful urination, pain in the pelvis and lower back, painful ejaculation, and the inability to control urination. A key to prostate health is knowing what foods you should and should not eat and then ensuring that you incorporate that knowledge into your eating plan. In this article, we identify four foods you should avoid for prostate health.
- Foods to Avoid
- Healthy Foods to Eat
- Benefits of Exercise
Foods to Avoid
Red and Processed Meat
Red meat is bad news for your prostate. The major problems are its high fat content and the carcinogenic toxins that are generated through the cooking process.
All processed meats are considered red meat. This includes salami, pepperoni, and lunch meats. Though they have not gone so far as to state that red meat is a cause of cancer, The International Agency For Research On Cancer has classified it as a carcinogen. In one study, it was seen that a 30% increase in red meat consumption led to an increase in the onset of prostate cancer.
Red meat is known to lead to an increase in prostate size. Eating red meat every day triples a person’s chances of ending up with an enlarged prostate. This condition, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, leads to numerous urination problems.
Cooking red meat has been shown to increase prostate cancer risk. In one study, men who ate burgers where the patty was well cooked had twice as high a prostate cancer risk compared to non red meat eaters than those who ate their burger patty medium cooked or rare.
The two carcinogens that have been identified through the cooking of red meat are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Heterocyclic amines (HCAs).
Reducing your red meat consumption to just a couple of times per week can help prevent cancer risk.
A large intake of high-fat dairy foods significantly increases the risk of prostate cancer. In a 2015 meta-analysis, it was shown that men who consumed more than one glass of cow’s milk per day had double the risk of prostate cancer compared to those who consumed one glass or less per day. Another study from 2018 showed that overweight men who previously had prostate cancer and consumed four or more glasses of milk per week had a 73% greater chance of a recurrence of their cancer compared to those who consumed less than four glasses of dairy milk per week.
As well as reducing your intake of cow’s milk, you should also cut back on ice cream, cheese, whipped cream, cakes, and pastries.
The negative effects of alcohol are well known. Alcohol has been identified as a risk factor for prostate cancer. It has also been linked to a number of other cancers, including colon cancer. While moderate drinking does not seem to significantly increase prostate cancer risk, heavy or excessive consumption does. Heavy consumption of alcohol is defined as twenty-two to fifty-six drinks per week, with excessive consumption being fifty-seven or more drinks per week.
Increased saturated fat consumption has been linked to a greater risk of prostate cancer. Saturated fats are found in meat, dairy products, butter, lard, eggs, and milk. A study out of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia found that people with high saturated fat levels in their diet were not only more likely to develop prostate cancer but were also less likely to survive the condition. On further investigation, the researchers found that, whereas normal cells feed on sugar, cancer cells feed off saturated fat acids. And the more of them they consume, the larger the cancer cells become. When saturated fat consumption was eliminated, the rate of cancer growth was reduced by between 30% to 50%.
It is important to understand that not all fats are bad for the prostate. The culprit is saturated fat. The worst offender is trans fat. Trans fats are a form of saturated fat. A trans fat is created when a vegetable oil undergoes the process of hydrogenation. This is done to extend the shelf life of the food by causing the food to harden at room temperature. Commercially fried foods, cookies, crackers, and margarines all contain trans fats. Trans fats can make even unsaturated fats act like saturated fats. You need to avoid them at all costs.
Trans fats do not fold upon themselves in the way that other fats do. Unfortunately, this leads to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, and many other chronic conditions. What’s more, trans fats increase bad LDL cholesterol levels and lower good HDL cholesterol levels.
A high intake of trans fats has also been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, lymphoma, liver cholesterol synthesis, as well as suppressing the excretion of bile acids.
Here are five foods that are high in trans fatty acids:
- French fries
- Fried chicken
- Onion rings
Healthy Foods to Eat
Here are four healthy prostate foods to replace the four that I’ve just recommended you remove from your diet:
Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. However, eating raw tomatoes is not the best way to get it. That’s because the lycopene binds to the walls of the skin of the tomato. Choose cooked or puréed products instead.
A number of phytochemicals found in broccoli have been shown to kill prostate cancer cells without having any detrimental effect on normal prostate cells.
Pomegranate juice is a rich source of antioxidants. Studies on animals suggest that this juice may be able to inhibit prostate cancer cells, though more research is needed to confirm its benefits for humans.
Fatty fish is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which has been linked with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. The best foods to include are salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and trout.
Benefits of Exercise
Exercising can also help to keep your prostate healthy. There is a definite link between being overweight and having prostate problems. Exercising can help to maintain a healthy weight. Men who are physically active are also less likely to develop an enlarged prostate.
It’s important to focus on your prostate health for a longer, happier life. Cut out some of the foods listed above and swap them for healthier options. Even small changes can make a big difference for your health.