With Father’s Day coming, there is no better time to talk to your dad, husband and other male loved ones about men’s health. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), nearly 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year. Family history of prostate cancer is one instigating factor in developing this potentially deadly disease, but recent studies have also shown that poor dietary habits and obesity put men at an increased risk of dying from prostate cancer. Celebrate Father’s Day by sharing the following health and nutrition tips with the men in your life; you will be giving them a timeless gift that can help save their lives.
1. Lose weight and reduce body mass index (BMI)
Among the many chronic and potentially life-threatening diseases related to a high BMI value, research published in the January 2007 issue of the NCI Bulletin Cancer Bulletin indicates that compared with men with a BMI of less than 25, men who were overweight (BMI 25-29.9) had a 25 percent increased risk of death, and obese men (BMI 30 and higher) had nearly double the risk. With weight being largely dependent on lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, men can protect their prostate health with simple changes in food choices, daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight. (Click to calculate Dad’s BMI)
2. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
According to Karen Lamphere, MS, CN, a Washington based nutritionist, most diseases have an underlying etiology involving inflammation. Conditions like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, allergies, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer can be made worse or better depending on a person’s diet. Lamphere regularly prescribes an anti-inflammatory diet to her clients with inflammatory diseases.
Dr Barry Sears, creator of the Zone Diet and ZoneDiet.com, agrees: “A key factor in men reducing their risk of prostate cancer is reducing silent inflammation (inflammation below the perception of pain), because it is silent inflammation at the cellular level that ultimately drives all cancers. The Zone Diet was developed to reduce the production of excess insulin and the production of the inflammatory mediator arachidonic acid (toxic fat) that drives silent inflammation.”
3. Eat fewer calories
In addition to following an anti-inflammatory diet on a lifetime basis, Dr Sears recommends consuming fewer calories. Reducing caloric intake will not only lead to weight loss for men who are overweight, it can also have a dramatic impact on reducing inflammation. To successfully eat fewer calories, Dr Sears suggests following a diet like the Zone Diet that keeps hunger at bay in between meals. (You can also try these 50 ways to cut 100 calories.)
4. Up the omega-3’s
Another dietary component that has been shown to significantly reduce inflammation, consuming adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids can counter toxic fat in the body, according to Dr Sears. Omega-3 fatty acids are found primarily in fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel and tuna, as well as fish oils. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in smaller amounts in nuts and seeds. (More benefits of omega-3s)
5. Increase zinc
“Small amounts of zinc (15 to 30 milligrams/day) are essential for normal prostate health,” says Dr Sears. However, though an adequate amount of zinc is important, too much of the mineral can actually hurt prostate health. A recent study from Harvard Medical School indicates that daily intakes of zinc greater than 100 milligrams per day are associated with prostate cancer. “This may be due to the inflammation induced by excessive dietary intakes of zinc,” says the Zone Diet expert. Dr Sears recommends a prostate support supplement that contains a modest amount of zinc combined with the extract of the plant saw palmetto (learn how zinc and saw palmetto promote prostate health).
An anti-inflammatory diet combined with daily physical activity can reduce inflammation in the body that can lead to prostate cancer. Weight loss associated with a healthy diet and exercise will also reduce a man’s risk of developing the disease. Dr Sears cautions, “Of the two (diet and exercise), the diet has a more profound effect.”
7. Get tested
The American Cancer Society recommends that men have annual prostate screenings every year starting at age 50. Men at high risk, such as African American men and men with a strong family history of prostate cancer should begin testing at age 45. However, all men over 40 should speak with their doctors at the time of their annual physicals and develop a proactive prostate health plan that is right for them. Prostate cancer is highly treatable if it is detected early enough.