Closing Up a Month of Men’s Health
According to the CDC, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States and one of the leading causes of cancer death among men. In fact, out of every 100 men, 12 – 13 will get prostate cancer in their lifetime, and 2 or 3 will die.
Though all men are at risk, African American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer are even more at risk, the former generally having a more aggressive form of cancer at a younger age. Other risk factors include age (the older men get, the more at risk they are) and being overweight.
All men should discuss prostate cancer, their individual risks of it, and possibly getting screened for it with their health care providers. Not everyone has symptoms, no screening is exact, but being aware of key symptoms like difficulty starting urination, weak and interrupted flow of urination, frequent urination during the night or difficulty emptying the bladder, erectile disfunction among others are red flags and can help with early detection.
As with so many other chronic illnesses and cancers, there are more things under our control than we imagine. So, here comes the dietitian and personal trainer broken record: A healthy, active lifestyle with good food choices is the best way to fend off chronic disease and cancer, including prostate cancer.
Adding a super kale shake to your diet won’t fend off cancer cells, but embodying a healthy lifestyle, an overall pattern of healthy eating, just might. Here are 6 eating and exercise tips to healthier living.
- Be mindful when you eat. The goal isn’t “clean your plate”, instead eat until you’re sated. This means when it’s time to eat, eat. Sit down at the table. Turn off the phone, TV, computer. If you eat lunch at the office, leave the office and go to a nearby park (if possible). Make meals sacred, whether you’re alone or have a family. Each bite is keeping you alive and healthy.
- Go for colors! Deep leafy greens, bright orange mangoes, dark purple cabbage and blueberries, bright red berries. Make fruits and vegetables a mainstay of your diet. Half your dinner plate should be piled with fruits and vegetables. The more variety, the better.
- Cut back on red meat and look for healthier sources of proteins (fish, eggs, chicken, and vegetable proteins like soy, lentils and beans). And keep processed meats to an absolute minimum (hot dogs, salami, bologna etc.) Begin by substituting your burger and steak once/week with another healthier option. Make choosing white meats a habit. You might be surprised at how much you’re enjoying other protein sources.
- Go for whole grains, whole grain pasta and rice, quinoa, chia, heavy, hearty breads. Take simple carbs out of the picture, replacing them with complex carbohydrates. Substitute your white bread with wheat bread. These little changes can make a big difference over time.
- Olive oil, fatty fish, avocadoes are chock-full of healthy fats. Try to balance your diet with these healthy fats, cutting back on animal fats (butter, cream, red meats), and trying to eliminate trans fats (mostly found in packaged foods). Spread avocado, almond butter, or drizzle olive oil on your toast in the morning. These fats are full of flavor, and the variety will keep you healthy and engaged with your food!
- Get moving! We’ve become a nation of professional sitters. We don’t even have to get up to change the channel anymore. According to Harvard Health, though a direct link between exercise and reducing prostate cancer hasn’t been proven, studies show that exercise reduces the probability of erectile dysfunction, improves symptoms of chronic prostatitis, and there is an inverse relationship between physical activity and prostate symptoms. Make movement part of your daily routine. Set a movement alarm on your computer at work. Get up every hour to walk around the office. Take the stairs. Walk to work, or bike. Make walking the first option or everything you do (save money on gas!). Learn to actively sit, great posture and a strong core can keep back pain away. Incorporate movement into everything you do.
Healthy living is changing our habits, our lifestyle, to make healthy eating choices and exercise habits an integral part of everyday life. These overall patterns of healthy eating and exercise will not only protect us against prostate cancer but a whole slew of chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, mental health problems and more.
June, we celebrate the men in our lives. What better way to do so than with some positive lifestyle changes?