Worst foods for prostate health

replacementWhen you are concerned about your prostate health, it is just as important to know what NOT to eat as it is to know the best foods to eat for prostate health. Certain foods can increase your risk for prostate cancer or prostatitis or can contribute to enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Here are a few of the worst foods for prostate health.

1. Canned Tomatoes

Filled with the antioxidant lycopene, processed tomatoes are so healthy for men in terms of prostate health. However, canned tomatoes have bisphenol-A (BPA) in them because the cans they come in are lined with this chemical. Due to the acidic nature of the tomatoes, BPA leaches from the lining into the tomatoes. This toxic chemical is linked a higher risk of prostate cancer, reproductive problems, heart disease, neurological effects and more. It is better to make tomato sauces from fresh tomatoes. Look for tomatoes in BPA-free packaging such as glass.

2. Red Meat And Processed Meats

Eating red meat (such as beef, pork and lamb) increases your risk for prostate cancer by 12 percent and can give you a 33 percent higher risk for advanced cancer than men who eat very little red meat. Bacon and other processed or cured meats, such as deli meats, contain nitrates. These preservatives are also associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer and bowel cancer.

You might think that a deli-meat sandwich makes a healthy lunch, but many deli meats come from animals treated with growth hormones and antibiotics, and also contain dyes and chemical flavorings. The red deli meats are worse for you than the lighter meats such as turkey. Look for organic meats or, even better, try to eat wild-caught fish, such as salmon. The best protein for prostate health is plant-based protein.

3. Well-Done Meat

Meat and prostate cancer are uncomfortably linked, and how you cook your meat can add more complications.

When you cook meat — especially red meat — at high temperatures, certain compounds form. These compounds have been linked to cancer of the prostate. Meats that are grilled, barbecued and in iron skillets are cooked at high temperatures. These methods have been linked to prostate cancer and even advanced cancer.

4. Dairy Products And Calcium Supplements

Dairy products are bad for men’s health for several reasons.

Diets high in meat and dairy are associated with prostate cancer. While we don’t know exactly why this is, it could be linked to hormones, calcium and leucine. (Leucine is an amino acid found in dairy products — and meat — that is essential for growing prostate cancer cells.)

But what about calcium? Yes, strong bones are important for men; but it is best to get calcium from nondairy dietary sources. Reasons to avoid calcium supplements include increased risk of heart attack, kidney stones and prostate cancer. Instead, look for nondairy calcium sources of calcium such as figs, fermented tofu, chia seeds, almonds and sesame seeds along with green vegetables like kale, bok choy, spinach and broccoli. These foods also contain minerals and micronutrients that help your body metabolize calcium and strengthen bones.

If you do eat dairy, look for organic dairy products. Organic dairy products come from cows that have not been treated with synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics or steroids. Organic cows eat a more natural diet of grass without fillers, corn or soybeans.

5. Unfermented Soy

Unfermented soy is not the health food you might think it is. About 90 percent to 95 percent of the soy grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered to make soy protein isolate. This type of soy is found in products like protein bars, fruit drinks, soups, sauces, cereals, supplements and meal-replacement shakes.

You may not even realize that on package labels, unfermented soy is disguised under such names as bouillon, textured protein and natural flavor. These lower-quality soy products can increase a man’s risk of heart disease, thyroid problems, mental decline, infertility and cancer.

On the other hand, fermented soy products have many health and prostate benefits for men. Look for fermented soy products such as soy sauce, fermented bean paste, miso and tempeh.

6. Microwave Popcorn

Popcorn is a healthy snack. It is high in fiber and low in calories, but it should be air-popped or cooked on the stove instead of microwaved in a bag. Microwave popcorn bags are lined with the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which gets into the popcorn. This chemical is an endocrine disruptor that can affect your sex hormones.

PFOA can cause health problems for men like infertility, thyroid disease, prostate cancer and testicular cancer as well as ad high LDL and total cholesterol levels. It also can cause immune system problems.

7. Sugar And Artificial Sweeteners

Both sugar and artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose) have been associated with cancer and allergies. Scientists have found that cancer cells use more sugar (glucose) than do normal cells. Besides possible cancer risks and increased inflammation in the body, eating sugar can lead to other health problems like obesity and insulin resistance. These conditions are high risk factors for cancer.

The Prostate Diet

You can reduce your risk of prostate cancer by following a diet that eliminates (or has very little) meat. It should focus on low-fat, high-fiber sources of protein. One such diet that you may want to look into is The Prostate Diet for prostate cancer. This diet focuses on whole, natural foods, a Mediterranean-style diet, prostate supplements, omega-3-rich foods such as wild (not farmed) salmon and plant protein.

Eating a diet like The Prostate Diet can provide you with the right fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber to support and maintain heart health as well as prostate health, giving you a whole-body approach to wellness.

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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.