September is Prostate Awareness Month. In Canada, Prostate Cancer Canada is sharing the “#oneinseven” message, informing Canadians that 1 in 7 men will get prostate cancer in his lifetime. It’s a no brainer that men should be getting their prostate checked every year and tracking their PSA numbers so they are in control of their health. (And guys, us women have to go through uncomfortable doctor’s visits too so even if it’s uncomfortable or embarrassing, you gotta man up!). But just because an enlarged prostate can be a common occurrence as men age, it doesn’t mean it’s inevitable.
In Okinawa, Japan, which is home to the world’s highest concentrations of “centenarians” (those who live past 100 years of age) and accounts for 15% of the world’s “supercentenarians” (those who live to 110 and beyond), an Okinawan elder is 88% less likely to die from prostate cancer.
So what are these men (and women) doing that results in cancer rates (breast, ovarian, colon) that are far better than those in North America?
According to the book “Healthy at 100“, if you ask the elder Okinawans their key to longevity, they will most often point to the simple, nutritious and wholesome diet. They believe “Food should nourish life – this is the best medicine” and that we should “eat less in order to live longer”. They almost never overeat, which is an epidemic in North America – how often do you say “I’m so full” after you eat?
Some diet specifics compared to our American counterparts:
- MEAT/POULTRY/EGGS: Okinawans – 3%; Americans – 29%;
- DAIRY: Okinawans – 2%; Americans – 23% (NOTE: LOW OR NO DAIRY is a commonality in many prostate cancer references);
- FRUIT: Okinawans – 6%; Americans 20%;
- VEGETABLES: Okinawans – 34%; Americans – 16%;
- GRAINS – Okinawans – 34%; Americans – 11%;
- SOY FOODS: Okinawans – 12%; Americans .5%;
- FISH: Okinawans – 11%; Americans – .5%
“Healthy at 100″ also points out the following commonalities between the world’s longest living people and their diets:
- they are low in overall calories **remember, they are eating nourishing foods so this doesn’t mean you need to go out and consume diet foods and count calories! It means we need to eat better quality food (not diet food) with optimal nutritious value and less nutrient-deficient foods;
- they are high in GOOD carbs – whole grains, veg, fruit;
- they have very little IF ANY processed/refined foods, sugar, corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavours, or other chemicals;
- they are primarily FRESH foods, eating locally and seasonally;
- they are low (though not super low) in fat and fats come from natural sources;
- protein comes primarily from plants – beans, peas, whole grains, seeds, nuts.
So yes, your diet can affect your prostate. You may not fully understand what happens in the body to connect diet to your prostate, but you can probably understand the concept of Garbage In, Garbage Out…you wouldn’t put Coca-Cola in your gas tank and expect it to run at full capacity…why expect anything different from your body?
To the men we know and love, #weloveyou and #fuckcancer.