Finding the best diet for prostate health

When you look  around the world there are certain groups of men who have lower prostate cancer rates than other groups. Men from the Mediterranean and Japan have statistically low prostate cancer rates. These men may be from vastly different cultures and regions, but there are certain habits and elements of diet and lifestyle and eating they share in common. These similarities may be linked with their positive prostate health.

Unfortunately there is no quick-fix diet for good health. There is no big money to be made promoting the diets of these regions. The best “diet” for prostate health actually involves a healthy lifestyle and way of eating that follows the lines of the Mediterranean diet and the Japanese diet, which are part of an overall “prostate diet.”

The prostate diet

The prostate diet is a sensible eating plan that that is designed to promote good prostate health. This eating plan helps protect against cancer and inflammation. Every day you make choices about what to put in your body, and these choices can support or work against good prostate health.

The foundations of the prostate diet include eating whole and natural unprocessed foods, choosing healthy fats over unhealthy fats, eating many fruits and vegetables, and choosing plant proteins over animal proteins. The Prostate Diet includes foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, cancer-killing foods, and supplements. The prostate diet also promotes good hydration with water and involves consuming green tea, which has many health benefits for the prostate.

The Mediterranean diet

The prostate diet has a lot of overlap with the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet involves certain foods (such as whole, fresh, and natural foods) but it also represents a style of eating and living. This diet is based on the natural way of life for people living in and around Spain, Greece and Italy. This lifestyle involves a high activity level, an anti-stress attitude, and a slow and leisurely eating style. It even encourages drinking a moderate amount of wine. And surprisingly, all of these elements contribute to positive prostate health.

The characteristics of the Mediterranean diet include:

  • Consuming healthy oils such as virgin olive oil.
  • Eating oily fish three to four times per week.
  • Having a high intake of fruit and vegetables.
  • Drinking 1-2 small glasses of red wine with meals.
  • Eating nuts.
  • Limiting consumption of meats and natural saturated fats.
  • Eating legumes.
  • Unprocessed carbohydrates.
  • Eating 3-4 eggs per week.
  • Avoiding trans-fat (hydrogenated oils).
  • Avoiding processed foods.

The benefits of the Mediterranean diet  include helping to fight cancer and reduce inflammation. This diet is high in antioxidants, especially lycopene, which is found in tomatoes. This diet is easy for many men to follow because it is very satisfying and filling, due to the healthy fats and fiber. Because eating at a leisurely pace allows the body more time to feel full this lifestyle discourages overeating. This diet can help prevent obesity, which is a risk factor for both prostate cancer and enlarged prostate.

The Japanese diet

There are elements of the Japanese diet that also have some surprising things in common with the Mediterranean diet. It is important to note that men who live in Japan have a three times lower prostate cancer rate than men living in the U.S. You can find out how Japanese men prevent prostate cancer through diet, lifestyle and a high consumption of green tea. Incorporating some of these dietary and lifestyle changes into your life can help improve your prostate health as well.

Even though the lifestyle and culture of people living in Japan vs. the Mediterranean are quite different, certain elements of their habits and eating style and have some similarities that are worth noting. They share certain prostate-friendly foods, high activity levels, and attitudes about stress, which makes them more alike then they seem on the surface.

Men in both these areas of the globe walk to more places than they drive; certainly more than most men in the U.S. Men in either of these regions do not consume much processed food or sugar, and they eat a lot of fish, especially fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. Men in Japan drink a lot of green tea, which is in sync with the foundations of the Prostate Diet.

Eating for health and pleasure

If you want to have long-term success at following any diet or healthy habits, you need to enjoy what you are eating. If you are bored or deny yourself by limiting your diet to just a few types of foods you won’t enjoy it and won’t stick to it. That is why following a Mediterranean diet and including elements of the prostate diet and the Japanese diet (along with staying active with regular exercise and supplementing with good prostate supplements) will provide you with the variety and flavor you crave while giving you the best odds for following a prostate-friendly lifestyle.

High-protein diets and other foods to avoid

Eating good quality protein is important, but high-protein diets that are low on carbohydrates are not good for you or your prostate long-term. Many men turn to the Atkins diet and other fad weight-loss diets because they help with rapid weight loss initially. However the bad outweighs the good when it comes to your health.

Eating a high-protein diet is bad for prostate health and may increase your risk for prostate cancer. The World Health organization says, “diets high in red meat, dairy products, and animal fat have frequently been implicated in the development of prostate cancer.” Too many of the quick weight-loss diets and liquid protein diets do not provide variety, are not satisfying, and do not stress the importance of exercise. These short-term weight-loss diets limit your choice of foods and often leave out very healthy fruits, vegetables, and fiber that are important to good prostate health. There is not one magic super food, but there are many nutrient-dense foods that all work together in one healthy eating plan.

You want to eat to promote prostate health, but there also may be foods that you should avoid, especially if you suffer from prostatitis. You should avoid certain foods that can irritate the prostate. Men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome may notice that certain foods aggravate pain or urinary symptoms. These common culprits include caffeine, alcohol, acidic and spicy foods. Even something like wheat, that seems innocuous, can increase prostate inflammation and worsen prostatitis symptoms.

Pay attention to how foods affect your prostate health. If you notice changes to your prostate or urinary health after you these foods, try eliminating them from your diet. If you remove them and symptoms improve, try reintroducing them after a few weeks. If you bring the foods in question back and the symptoms return, you might consider cutting those foods out of your diet altogether.

Following these guidelines may help you support good prostate health. An added bonus is that these diets also promote good heart health and can boost your sexual health as well.

Dr. Geo Espinosa

By Dr. Geo Espinosa

Dr. Geo Espinosa is a naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist and certified functional medicine practitioner recognized as an authority in holistic urology and men’s health. He is Clinical Assistant Professor and holistic clinician in Urology at New York University Langone Medical Center. As an avid researcher and writer, Dr. Geo has authored numerous scientific papers and books including co-editing the Integrative Sexual Health book, and author of the best selling prostate cancer book: Thrive, Don't Only Survive.