Prostate Cancer Changed My Diet
After being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013, I began to take a serious look at my diet and what I was consuming. As I honestly looked at my situation, a good diet really boiled down to a few simple recommendations.
Including fruits and vegetables
First recommendation was that a good diet should be primarily plant-based. After that, it was suggested that my diet include plenty of fruits and vegetables, while making sure that there was a lot of color on my plate at every meal. Next was to really look at a diet that was high in fiber and low in fat. Finally, find a way to eat that is low in sugar.
I soon discovered that most fruits and vegetables can contain significant amounts of cancer-fighting and inflammation-reducing benefits, along with vitamins, antioxidants and natural fiber.1 The more I read, it's obvious that most men do not consume the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables that are needed. So, as I looked at where to begin my new form of eating, I really concentrated on trying to include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in every meal.
After reading multiple articles on diet, I thought it became pretty obvious that the consumption of red meat, dairy products, and animal fats may at some level lead to development of cancer, particularly prostate cancer.2 As a youngster, my family consumed large quantities of beef pork and lamb in the belief that that was a healthy diet when combined with vegetables. Candidly, I never really thought about plants as a protein source.
Cutting back sugar
Of all the things that were the most difficult to control was trying to cut back on sugar. I think most of us, when we think of sugar, think of the small bowl and the cabinet that we used to sweeten your coffee at breakfast. I soon discovered that added sugar was in so many products, but I was not aware of it.
When you start looking, you realize that sugar comes with many names. Malt sugar, molasses, honey, fruit juice concentrate, corn sweetener, and more serve to disguise it's all white sugar.
An interesting statistic that I discovered while reading an article from the National Cancer Institute is that an adult man, on average, consumes over 24 teaspoons of added sugar a day. I suspect we all understand that calories from the sugar increase your risk for diabetes. I also learned that the consumption of sugar can lead to heart disease and indirectly feed the growth of cancer, due to the risk of weight gain.3,4
Transforming my diet
So, my main goal when I changed my diet after my prostate cancer diagnosis was to first concentrate on eliminating white sugar wherever I could. I would add one caution, and that is that when you're trying to cut back on sugar in your diet, it's easy to have this backfire on you. Sugar cravings can be very strong, and it's very easy to start to substitute other foods and drinks to satisfy a sweet craving.
My best advice is that if you've been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it may be good to look at what you're consuming and try to look at an aggressive way to take sugar out of your everyday diet, while including more fruits and vegetables. I’ve said it in the past: the best approach, at least for me, has been trying to follow the Mediterranean diet, and so far things have been working well. And when you think about it, any diet that includes an occasional glass of wine can't be all bad.
Have you made personal connections through your journey with prostate cancer?