Fighting prostate cancer

Posted on: 26 February 2013 by 50connect editorial

More ways in which changes to your diet can lessen the risk from prostate cancer.

diet and prostate cancerFruits and vegetables contain nutrients and compounds that help the body destroy cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) before they damage cells, thereby reducing cancer risk. While the exact mechanism remains unclear, it has been suggested that the antioxidant properties (the ability to neutralize harmful free-radicals in the body) of certain vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin C seem to offer protection.

The most valuable sources of these vitamins include dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, and yellow/orange/red vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, red and yellow peppers, and sweet potatoes, and citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit.

Along with valuable vitamins and minerals, these colorful fruits and vegetables are rich in plant chemicals (phytochemicals) that are currently the subject of a great deal of research. For example, lycopene consumption from tomato-based sauces, drinks, and spreads is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

Garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, and other allium vegetables contain organosulfur compounds that have been shown in some laboratory studies to prevent tumour cell growth. Both of these phytochemicals are best absorbed with a little processing (i.e., cooking or crushing) which releases their valuable properties. Also, another family of vegetables called the cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts contain indoles, which also seem to block carcinogens from your body cells.

How many fruits and vegetables should I eat?

The list of these proposed compounds goes on and on. From my review of the research, I believe there is much value in the synergy of all of these compounds in how they may work together to fight all cancers - including prostate cancer. I counsel the importance of a variety of fruits and vegetables with a focus on the groups mentioned above. While your initial goal should be to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, shooting for at least nine servings per day should be a long-term goal for yourself, given all the benefits.

Fitting in fibre

Although fibre is a nonabsorbable carbohydrate, benefits are found in the ability of dietary fibre to promote the clearance of hormones and fats from the body via the gastrointestinal tract. In other words, they help you stay regular. Reproductive hormones such as testosterone circulate throughout the body and reduction in the level of these hormones may have a dramatic impact on the progression of prostate cancer. One study showed plasma testosterone levels to be significantly lower in middle-aged men who ate high levels of dietary fibre from cereals, grains, fruits and vegetables when compared to men eating a typical Western diet filled with processed foods, and a much lower fibre content.

Most of the richest sources of fibre come from foods that have undergone minimal or no, processing, such as whole grain breads and cereals, legumes, whole fruits and vegetables. While the typical American diet averages about 10 grams of dietary fibre per day, the general recommendation is intake of 25 to 35 grams of fibre per day. If you are not used to a high-fibre diet, introducing fibre-rich foods too quickly, and without adequate fluid, can cause gas, cramping and bloating. My suggestion is to start slowly and work your way up to the recommended intake.

Serve up soy

Many researchers strongly believe the significantly lower incidence and slower progression of prostate cancer in Asian countries is largely due to a diet rich in soy-based foods such as tofu, tempeh, and soy milk. Recent studies focus on the properties of specific phytochemicals in soy called isoflavones, which can only be found naturally in soy foods. Isoflavones have estrogenic properties that may counteract the development of hormone-sensitive tumours such as in prostate cancer.

Additionally, genestein has been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit the growth of both hormone-dependent and independent prostate cancer cells.

Despite the convincing evidence, the introduction of soy into the diet is usually met with some resistance because it seems foreign to many. An initial goal can be to incorporate an average of one serving of soy per day, with an ultimate goal of 25 to 40 grams of soy protein per day. The fact is, certain soy foods are also excellent low-fat sources of antioxidants and fibre, and with the variety of foods now available, it is easier than you think to enjoy both the taste and health benefits of soy foods.

Remember, diet changes do not happen overnight. The best thing to do now is set small goals for yourself. Review the guidelines above and choose one area at a time. You may want to concentrate on the fat in your diet first and once you’ve reached that goal, move on to fruits and vegetables. Each food that you add or eliminate is yet another success in using your diet to fight prostate cancer.

Read more about prostate health

Prostate cancer awareness- know the facts

Prostate cancer explained

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