The month of November serves a deeper meaning for men than just gearing up for the holiday season. It is also known as “Movember” in many countries – a health awareness campaign where men grow their moustaches during the month to raise funds for cancer research. It is an innovative approach to raise men’s awareness of prostate cancer and to help men be proactive in reducing their risk of developing the disease.
According to World Cancer Research Fund International, prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men and the fourth most prevalent type of cancer overall. Risk factors such as being over the age of 50 and having a family history increases one’s risk. While you cannot change your age and family history, there are lifestyle influences that you can focus on to reduce your risk. These include adopting healthy eating habits and maintaining a healthy body weight.
When you have a busy life to lead, you may wonder how you can possibly find time to make lifestyle changes when they are often easier said than done.
Remember, small changes go a long way. To start, focus on one or two items before gradually adding on more:
Fruits and vegetables
A diet with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is definitely one of the best measures to give your prostate the attention that it deserves. Not only are they rich in vitamins and minerals, they are also notable for their antioxidant properties, which may play a role in fighting cancerous cells.
Tomatoes are generally associated with lycopene, an antioxidant that may reduce one’s risk for prostate cancer. Aside from being present in tomatoes and tomato products such as pasta sauces and ketchup, lycopene is also found in red peppers, watermelon, persimmons, grapefruits and apricots.
Another prostate cancer-fighting nutrient to include is selenium, a mineral found in Brazil nuts, in legumes like beans, peas, lentils, in poultry and eggs, and in seafood like fish and oysters.
Many selenium-rich foods are leaner protein sources, which are also generally lower in fat, as opposed to red meat and processed meats like salami, ham, bacon and sausages, which poses one’s risk for the condition.
Healthier fats, such as olive oil, avocado oil and flaxseed oil are not only friendly for the prostate, but are also beneficial for the heart and overall health. Skip the butter, lard and shortening, whenever possible.
The quantity of fat, however, is just as important as the type of fat. No matter which type of fat you choose, keep in mind that fat is fat, and should be consumed in moderation.
Ditch the supplements
When healthy eating seems complicated, one may consider taking a multivitamin a day or a nutrient-specific dietary supplement to keep the doctors away. Unfortunately, dietary supplements are not magic pills and are not always suitable for everyone. Taking calcium supplements, for example, may prevent you from getting osteoporosis but may also increase your risk for prostate cancer.
Although the correlation between calcium and prostate cancer risk remains debatable, you do not need nutritional supplementation, unless advised by your doctor or registered dietitian. If you are already including adequate amounts of dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt as part of your diet, you likely have your daily required calcium covered.
Cut back on the alcohol
An alcoholic drink certainly makes a meal more enjoyable, but the added pounds of body weight that it contributes in the long run will not uplift your spirits. Limit yourself to no more than 15 drinks per week, where one drink is equivalent to a 12 fluid-ounce beer (5 per cent alcohol), 5 fluid-ounce wine (12 per cent alcohol) or a 1.5 fluid-ounce spirit (40 per cent alcohol). Consider replacing your drinks with plain water and aim to drink up to 12 cups (250ml each) of water every ‘day’.
Finally, combining exercise with a balanced diet is the most effective approach in reducing your risk. Physical activity with moderate intensity, such as running and swimming, are not only for a healthy heart and soul, but also for a healthy prostate.
If you don’t have time to hit the gym, consider alternatives like brisk walking and taking the stairs. Tally your steps with a pedometer or a smartwatch and work towards walking up to 10,000 steps each day.