3 ways to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of prostate cancer

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Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for men’s overall well-being and longevity, especially when preventing prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death for American men. Studies link overall weight and excess abdominal fat to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

“Excess weight parallels prostate cancer risk during the aging process,” says Andrew Woodward, MS, RD, CSO, oncology nutritionist at Loma Linda University Cancer Center. “A lot of people think that weight gain is inevitable with age, but that’s not the case. Instead, it requires becoming more intentional about physical activity and slowly reducing intake. calories to compensate for aging and slow metabolism.

According to Woodward, excess body fat increases the risk of prostate cancer through its production of cortisol, a stress hormone that increases inflammation in the body. Inflammation is thought to promote the growth of certain cancers, he says.

Insulin issues also help explain the link between belly fat and prostate cancer, Woodward says. Insulin is a growth factor hormone; high levels can promote cancer growth. Excessive abdominal fat can interfere with the body’s ability to use insulin as it should, a condition called insulin resistance. Woodward and other experts suspect that insulin dysregulation plays a role in the development of prostate cancer, a disease closely linked to hormones.

For September Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Woodward outlines three key nutritional ways to prioritize a healthy weight and actively reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Any form of voluntary weight loss must combine good nutrition with physical activity, adds Woodward. Myokines, specialized proteins released during exercise, can reduce body fat and boost the immune system, both of which help fight many cancers, including prostate cancer.

Replace starches with vegetables

Replacing a serving of starches — pasta, potatoes or rice — with a serving of vegetables — broccoli, cauliflower, or whatever — is an action that Woodward says can significantly reduce the number of calories consumed.

“If you do this swapping of starch for vegetables for every meal of the day, you’re reducing your caloric intake while getting the same volume of food,” he says.

One seamless way Woodward suggests making the switch is to explore vegetables prepared to mimic starches, such as cauliflower rice, zoodles (zucchini-based noodles), or spaghetti squash.

Keep a food diary

Woodward says that regularly recording the types, amounts, and timing of food intake can, over time, lead to discoveries about eating habits, portions, and eating habits.

“Sometimes people look at their food diary and identify instances where they could be eating less,” he says.

Food journaling can, for example, reveal a “mood-food connection,” says Woodward, such as eating under stress. Seeking the calming and soothing effects of carbs in times of emotional turmoil is a common trend, he says. Through a set of biochemical processes, amino acids from carbohydrates eventually convert into serotonin, a mood stabilizer.

“Food can become a drug of choice,” he says. “When people are having a bad day or their feelings are strong, they can eat inappropriately or overeat, which leads to weight gain.”

Increasing awareness of eating habits is one of the first steps toward identifying opportunities for improvement and healthy weight reduction, says Woodward. Food journaling can be as simple as pen to paper, he says. Alternatively, online resources like MyFitnessPal are available that provide calorie, protein, and macronutrient breakdowns.

Enjoy Plant-Based Foods

Overall, Woodward recommends men stick to a mostly plant-based diet — whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and other foods that grow from the ground — and avoid processed foods. , sugar and fatty foods. Many fruits and vegetables are rich in phytochemicals, powerful compounds that help fight cancer and reduce the risk of its development.


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Studies show that diets from Westernized countries lead to a six times higher risk of prostate cancer compared to diets from non-Westernized countries that are not as high in animal products like dairy and meat .

Woodward says each man’s journey to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is unique and personal.

“It’s not like one size fits all,” he says. “A diet that works for one person may not work for another. Each person must examine their complex relationship with food.

He recommends contacting a qualified nutritionist if you’re looking to better adjust your lifestyle to healthy weight goals. If you’re having trouble losing weight, he adds, talk to a doctor who specializes in obesity. Consider the Loma Linda University Health Promotion Center at 909-558-4594.

Learn more about prostate cancer-specific services and resources offered at the Loma Linda University Cancer Center online or call 1-800-782-2623.

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