Sperling Prostate Center

Not For Your Prostate Only: Time for a Dietary Wakeup Call?

The scary data tells it all. To judge by the statistics, the U.S. is a nation of fat, sick people. Take, for example, these numbers from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • In less than a 10-year period (2000 to 2018) the prevalence of obesity increased from 30.5% to 42.4%. This means over 1/3 of persons are living with serious health risks.
  • In 2008, the annual medical cost of obesity in our country was $147 billion—and that was over 10 years ago, so we can be sure it’s higher now.
  • At that time, obese people had medical costs of $1,429 more than those with healthy weight.

Obesity is determined by body mass index (BMI), calculated based on the relationship between your height and weight. You are considered overweight if your BMI is 25-29.9. You are obese if it’s 30 or higher. Obese bodies put their owners at risk of the leading causes of premature death: cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. These are preventable!

Prostate cancer and diet

One of the cancers that correlates with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammation is prostate cancer (PCa). Compared to your heart health and systemic diseases like diabetes, the health of your prostate may seem like a relative pipsqueak. But make no mistake, your diet may be setting you up for prostate cancer. In fact, what you chew and swallow daily may be more dangerous than exposure to known carcinogens like pesticides and air pollution. One summary of The China Study explains, “The food you eat affects the way your cells interact with carcinogens, making them more or less dangerous.”[i] Not only do many foods contain pesticides, but animal proteins are shown to be cancer-promoting –including prostate cancer. Thus, nutrition is a key element in regulating biochemical and genomic cancer processes.

In an article on the effect of poor dietary habits on your brain, author Angela Laguipo succinctly describes the so-called Western Pattern Diet that characterizes American eating:

The Western Pattern Diet (WPD) or also known as the Standard American Diet (SAD) is a modern-day style diet that mostly contains high amounts of processed foods, red meat, high-fat dairy products, high-sugar foods, and pre-packaged foods, that increase the risk of chronic illness.[ii]

If this description is all too familiar, it’s time for a dietary wakeup call. You may not be on verge of an all-out revolution into a radical vegan diet, in which no animal products are consumed (and yes, that includes fish, dairy and eggs). Current research consistently suggests that going vegan is physiologically in your prostate’s best interest, not to mention your entire body. Today, there is more enthusiasm than ever among foodies for a whole foods plant-based diet. However, for the omnivores who love dining on mammals, poultry and fish as part of their food pyramid, the concept of a “plant-forward” transition may be more psychologically palatable.

How to become a plant-forward eater

Changing one’s food habits is never easy. Most of us formed our conceptual and emotional neural pathways about eating during childhood. While maturity may bring more open-minded menu explorations, the early neural pathways never become completely extinct and resurface in times of fatigue and stress. Therefore, gradually re-educating our taste buds is a wise approach to nutritional change.

Plant-forward eating is just such a gradual transition. Here are some guidelines from Yale University on How to Eat a Plant-Forward Diet:

  1. Start slow. Think about substituting things like crunchy raw veggies or fruits for your current boxed and bagged snack foods. Occasionally try a plant-based meat alternative.
  2. Convert animal protein to the status of a side dish. Change the proportions of ingredients on your plate or in dishes like stew or lasagna to reduce meat.
  3. Opt for high-protein non-meat foods like nuts, quinoa, legume seeds and soy in your meal and snack preparations.
  4. Reinvent vegetable dishes with new spices and flavors in order to evoke a sense of adventure.

Your prostate will thank you

In the big picture, a plant-forward shift in your meals is good for your heart, metabolism, brain, pancreas, liver, kidneys and all other organ systems. Your immune system will be less taxed dealing with the crud in your own body that accumulates from the Western Pattern Diet, liberating it for optimum defense against microbes and rogue cells. At the molecular level, your body’s ability to regulate genomic functions will improve. And, that little pipsqueak prostate will avoid the inflammation within and surrounding it that invites its glandular cells toward destructive mutations.

Stay tuned for more blogs that capitalize on current research into diet and wellness. It’s a hot topic that can benefit all of us.

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] Dorothy Greet. “China Study Cheat Sheet.” Cape Gazette, Jan. 12, 2015.
[ii] Angela Laguipo. “What the Western diet is doing to your brain.” Medical.netNews, Feb. 20, 2020.


About Dr. Dan Sperling

Dan Sperling, MD, DABR, is a board certified radiologist who is globally recognized as a leader in multiparametric MRI for the detection and diagnosis of a range of disease conditions. As Medical Director of the Sperling Prostate Center, Sperling Medical Group and Sperling Neurosurgery Associates, he and his team are on the leading edge of significant change in medical practice. He is the co-author of the new patient book Redefining Prostate Cancer, and is a contributing author on over 25 published studies. For more information, contact the Sperling Prostate Center.

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