Healthy Lifestyle for Prostate Health
As a general rule, a lifestyle beneficial for cardiovascular or heart health is also beneficial for prostate health. In fact, many of the recommendations below are just as important for overall health while also improving prostate health. Cardiovascular death is the most common cause of death in trials of men with prostate cancer and not prostate cancer itself. While no evidence exists to suggest that diet or herbal treatments can cure prostate cancer, the following lifestyle changes are the optimal way to reduce risk of death from both prostate cancer and other common causes such as heart disease.
- Weight Loss: Obesity has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease and prostate cancer. Reducing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is extremely important for both heart and prostate health. In an average male, a waist circumference greater than 35 inches is suggested to be overweight and greater than 40 inches considered obese.
- Exercise: Guidelines suggest approximately 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day and lifting weights or other resistance exercises several times per week. Aerobic and resistance exercise are equally important.
- Low fat (but not no fat): Certain fats such as saturated fats and trans-fatty acids (partially hydrogenated fats) should be replaced in the diet by healthier types of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats (e.g., omega-3 fatty acids). Comparing food labels at the grocery store is a good start to lowering the “bad” fats.
- High fruits and vegetables: Many individual fruits and vegetables have received media attention. However, a diversity of fruits and vegetables in the diet is the best recommendation, and dietary supplements that claim to substitute for fruit and vegetable consumption are not recommended.
- High fiber: Twenty to 30 grams per day of total dietary fiber from food (not supplements) is recommended. While many good sources of dietary fiber are available, flaxseed is a very inexpensive, low calorie fiber that also has other health benefits. A full daily supply of dietary fiber can actually be obtained with a single bowl or bran cereal or flaxseed.
- Soy protein: Clinical studies suggest two to three servings of soy protein (about 25 grams) per day may significantly reduce cholesterol levels and delay the onset of prostate cancer or prostate cancer recurrence.
- Fish: Two servings weekly of canned, broiled, baked, raw or smoked (but not fried) fish is an excellent source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, healthy fats and minerals, including selenium. Tree nuts and healthy plant cooking oils (i.e. soybean, canola, olive oil and safflower) are also abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and healthy protein and minerals.
- Routine Health Maintenance: Evaluation by a primary care physician on a regular basis for preventive medical care is helpful to monitor cholesterol, lipid profile and blood pressure and more. A patient’s cholesterol and lipid profile is an excellent way to monitor overall health risk with the goals being to lower triglycerides, overall cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL (good cholesterol).
The above recommendations are based on current available scientific evidence. Remember, it is not one lifestyle change or medication or supplement in extreme that will alter general or prostate health, but rather the sum of what is done in moderation that has the best chance of positively impacting health outcomes.
While many commercially available products claim to improve prostate health or to decrease the risk of prostate cancer, it is important to remember the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act allows companies to sell nearly anything without meeting FDA standards to prove the agent is safe or effective. In other words, most of these products do not have adequate evidence to support their claims, and some could be harmful.