Originally published 7/25/2019
My initial interest in how food influences our body’s capacity to fend off disease—or even cure it—has intensified since we posted the blog below. Its guidance is as valid now as it was two years ago. Now my interest is increasingly turning to plant-based nutrition. Plant-based diets promote the health of every system in the body, but this update focuses on one addition to the “recipe” below, and its implications for prostate cancer (PCa).
A little more than a year after the blog below, we posted another on the glories of a compound called sulforaphane (SFN), abundantly present in broccoli and brussels sprouts. SFN is a bioactive phytochemical. This means it can have multiple actions in the body, including modulating cellular antioxidant systems as well as “… enzyme-induction or inhibition, regulation of selective gene expression, interfering with cell cycle and signaling pathways, influencing the tumor microenvironment and induction of apoptosis [programmed cell death] or autophagy [self-consuming].”[i]
Rutz, et al. (2020) wrote, “Prostate cancer patients whose tumors develop resistance to conventional treatment often turn to natural, plant-derived products, one of which is sulforaphane (SFN).”[ii] They laboratory tested the anti-tumor properties of SFN on two different PCa cell lines to analyze the signaling pathways by which SFN had a destructive effect on them. They found “considerable anti-growth, anti-proliferative, and anti-clonogenic influence of SFN” on both PCa cell lines, then took it a step further by assessing the cell cycle phases and their regulating proteins. Some processes were the same in both cell lines, while each also had its own unique responses, but the net anti-tumor result was the same.
Naturally, based on such studies, we must add broccoli (or brussels sprouts) as a fourth key ingredient for prostate health. However, if your taste buds balk at the sulfur-like taste of these vegetables, you may find comfort in an alternative: SFN supplements in the form of over-the-counter nutraceuticals. Author Christine Houghton says SFN is “coming of age” as a clinically relevant nutraceutical.[iii] She points out that many antioxidants have had disappointing results against chronic diseases in evaluative studies. Fortunately, SFN “emerges as a phytochemical with comparatively high bioavailability.” Since the body can make use of SFN even as a supplement, it produces favorable outcomes “in conditions for which there are few satisfactory pharmaceutical solutions.” She states that broccoli sprout supplements are now commercially available with SFN amounts that are virtually equal to doses used in clinical trials. That said, don’t make a guinea pig of yourself. All phytonutrients are best utilized by the body in the natural form in which they occur, so this circles back to plant-based diets. Always talk to your doctor before trying products. Watch for new postings on whole-food, plant-based diets as we post them.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” This wisdom from the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates applies to the whole body, including the small but mighty prostate gland. The prostate, a walnut-size gland nestled right below the bladder, is an essential part of a man’s sexual health. It manufactures the fluid that carries a man’s sperm at the time of orgasm, so it plays a key role for pleasure as well as babymaking. You can maximize prostate health by eating the right foods.
For decades, researchers have been looking for links between prostate cancer (PCa) and diet. They haven’t had to look hard. A growing body of evidence links PCa risk with poor nutrition, making a powerful case for healthy eating. The right foods have protective and preventive benefits. A few simple swap-outs in your diet can make a huge difference. Here are three foods that are standouts:
- Lycopene – This is a pigment that gives certain fruits and vegetables color to help absorb the sun’s energy and protect them from stress. It has similar benefits for your prostate. Numerous studies show a strong connection between dietary lycopene and a reduced risk of PCa. Eat more foods with high lycopene levels such as cooked tomatoes, watermelon, guava, purple cabbage, asparagus, papaya, and carrots. Did someone say carrots? A new study found that for each 10-gram serving of carrots per week, the risk of developing PCa was reduced by 5%.
- Chicken and fish – Red meat (beef, lamb, bison and pork) is not your prostate’s friend. It contains a sugar molecule called Neu5Gc. When you eat red meat, Neu5Gc is incorporated into body tissues, including tumors, where the immune system registers it as a threat and attacks it, creating inflammation. Neu5Gc is not itself cancer-causing, but prostate inflammation is linked with developing cancer. The solution? Chow down on more chicken and fish—but be careful, as cooking any meat on very high heat can produce carcinogenic compounds.
- Nuts to you – But only in the best possible way. Eating more nuts has several advantages. They are high in antioxidants so they keep cells healthy, boost your immune system, and reduce the effects of aging. Consuming healthy oils and nuts reduces inflammation and insulin which may help head off PCa progression. Just a single ounce of nuts per day may lower your risk of developing lethal PCa by 18%, and lower your death risk by 11%. (NOTE: Peanuts are NOT nuts – they are legumes. Don’t be fooled.)
Any one of these foods will boost your prostate health, and they are heart-healthy, too. To help you take a positive step on the road to prostate health, here is a tasty recipe that combines three of them:
Honey-Dijon Salmon and Asparagus
From Taste of Home
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
2 ¼ teaspoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Dash of white pepper
2 4-ounce salmon fillets
¼ cup chopped walnuts
½ pound fresh asparagus
- In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, butter and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Stir in the honey, mustard and pepper.
- Place each salmon fillet on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. x 12 in.). Drizzle with honey mixture and sprinkle with walnuts. Place asparagus around salmon. Fold foil around salmon and seal tightly. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
- If desired, serve with a side of rice, preferably brown or wild rice. Yield: 2 servings.
As the above recipe shows, having a healthy prostate can be a delicious proposition. As the French say, a votre santé!NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.
[i] Ullah MF. Sulforaphane (SFN): An Isothiocyanate in a Cancer Chemoprevention Paradigm. Medicines (Basel). 2015 Sep; 2(3): 141–156. [ii] Rutz J, Thaler S, Maxeiner S et al. Sulforaphane Reduces Prostate Cancer Cell Growth and Proliferation In Vitro by Modulating the Cdk-Cyclin Axis and Expression of the CD44 Variants 4, 5, and 7. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Nov 18;21(22):8724. [iii] Houghton, CA. Sulforaphane: Its “Coming of Age” as a Clinically Relevant Nutraceutical in the Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Disease. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019; 2019: 2716870.