From Florida Hospital - Apopka
We all know eating your fruits and vegetables is a good thing. But when it comes to prostate cancer, the need for healthy eating becomes that much more important.
So, how exactly do you monitor your diet during and after treatment? For starters, it is very helpful to have a friend or family member help you with the change in diet.
“As we know, some healthy cells are impacted during prostate cancer treatment along with the cancerous cells,” says Sherri Flynt, registered/licensed dietitian at Florida.
“Good nutrition helps to repair and rebuild healthy cells that were damaged. It helps to boost the immune system and helps to rebuild lean muscle mass. There’s also evidence that eating a healthier diet, following cancer treatment, may help to reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence,” explains Flynt.
Flynt’s diet tips:
Slowly add more fruits and vegetables to your diet “Fruits and veggies contain vitamins and minerals (vitamin E and Selenium), fiber, and antioxidants (lycopene), and they’re low in calories,” says Flynt.
She adds: “There’s research to suggest these are beneficial to consume for those who have prostate cancer.”
You can find lycopene in tomatoes (canned, dried or juice), guava, watermelon and pink grapefruit. For vitamin E, try spinach, beets, greens, pumpkin, red peppers, asparagus, collard greens, mango and avocado and for selenium, eat broccoli, cabbage, spinach, shiitake mushrooms, lima beans and pinto beans.
Consider ways to alleviate the treatment side effects
“The side effects will depend on what treatment is used and not everyone has the same side effects.”
Diarrhea – Increase fiber intake (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds) and stay hydrated
Loss of appetite – Small/frequent meals, drink between meals instead of with meals (fluids can cause a feeling of fullness), rest before meals to improve appetite, engage in physical activity
Fatigue – Small/frequent meals, stay well hydrated, be physically active, ask for help to do everyday chores, rest before meals
Nausea/vomiting – Bland and dry foods, small/frequent meals, sip on beverages with calories (let carbonated beverages go flat before drinking), avoid fatty, greasy, spicy foods
Weight gain – Consume more lower calorie foods such as whole grains, fruits and veggies, increase fiber and get adequate amounts of protein as they increase the sense of fullness, be physically active
Increased cholesterol levels – Consume fewer foods with saturated and trans fats, increase intake of plant foods, increase physical activity.
Remain physically active during treatment
“During cancer treatment, physical activity has been shown to improve endurance, decrease fatigue, boost self-esteem, preserve lean muscle mass and boost the immune system,” says Flynt.
Current research hasn’t shown that losing weight will stop the progression of prostate cancer, but it can help to reduce the risk of a recurrence. Be sure to work with your physician or a dietitian to determine what is a healthy weight for you, and put a plan in place to move toward that weight, she advises.
Opt for plant protein when you can
“There are several advantages of plant protein. It has higher fiber content, virtually no saturated fats, high antioxidant/phytochemical content and is sometimes lower in calories. Gradually increase the amount of plant foods consumed on a daily basis and limit processed foods.”
Drink green tea
“Green tea contains polyphenols, which have been shown to protect cells from damage and they may block the growth of prostate cancer cells and promote cell death.”
Limit sugary drinks and sugar in general
“Added sugar has no nutritional value, just calories and should be limited. There’s evidence that sugary beverages and foods may contribute to weight gain (a risk for prostate cancer and recurrence) and that a high-sugar diet tends to promote inflammation in the body that also increases the risk for most cancers. Also, it seems that high-sugar diets are low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts/seeds and plant proteins that may decrease risk for cancer,” cautions Flynt.