We have all heard the expressions “You are what you Eat,” “It’s Mind over Matter,” and “Let Go and Let God.” Probably used many times over each and every day, these snips of wisdom lead me to another common expression: “There is more here than meets the eye.” Why? Well, just as folklore has been passed down for centuries due to the lessons behind them, there is sometimes a good deal of merit in common, everyday phrases that one often takes for granted rather than examining their meaning more closely. I am writing to have you think about these important phrases for a reason close to my heart: Survival.
Through the years, which now number well over a decade, I have had the honor of working with thousands of prostate cancer patients. Some were quite young, diagnosed when their peers were busy remodeling their homes, running marathons and climbing that corporate ladder, to those that are my dad’s age, 88, great and still golfing – to those blessed with even more birthdays. It has always been enlightening to me to work with men across the country from every income and work sector and hear about their lives, their family and loved ones – and their personal dealings with prostate cancer.
While my job is providing information to ‘fight the good fight’ against disease, including reviewing diet, sleep, stress, supplements and yes even spirituality and mental outlook, it became quickly apparent that cancer knows no name, age or income level, affects more than 240,000 men a year and how each man chooses to deal with this is a very personal choice indeed.
So while 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime…and the cold hard fact is that 1 man in 36 will succumb to this cancer – the good news is that more than 2 million men in the U.S. who have been diagnosed at some point are still alive today.
There is no sugar-coating the facts: second only to lung cancer as the cause of death of American men, prostate cancer is a force to be reckoned with. I am personally gratified to have been around just long enough to have witnessed thousands of men addressing this cancer, instituting the changes necessary for survival and listening to their stories of success. But the road can be long and I am convinced that it is that elusive combination – harmony of body, mind and soul – that pulls most through.
So Where to start your Game Plan for Survival?
Right now.. Right here…Today. Just as time moves on, cancer cells proliferate and our goal is to attack and stop them. My hat is off to medical science and inroads that have allowed men to treat their cancer and maintain their quality of life and dignity but it is then up to each man to keep their cancer at bay – or better yet – send it into remission. Therefore, borne from my personal experience and research, I offer you my thoughts on beating the odds and emerging a Survivor. Some survival strategies you are possibly already implementing, others may be new, enlightening and helpful. Regardless, my goal is to have you come away thinking about what I call the “Three Bases to Survival” and that Home Run!
FIRST BASE: Take the “Die” out of DIET
It is not that complicated so start taking control! You need not count out your baby broccoli sprouts each day and dread your new diet – just the opposite. The goal is to make it simple and enjoyable while yielding the prostate specific results you need.
It is fairly common knowledge that a good diet can prolong life, keep your memory sharper and improve your overall sense of well-being and health. Just as a diabetic or heart disease patient should follow certain guidelines, the prostate cancer patient should adhere to a regime that improves his overall odds of survival and keeps that cancer walrus away. Is it always easy? Yes and No. Knowing what one should be doing and actually doing it are two different things.
Just like starting that “after the holidays” diet, starting your diet for survival may need a few swings of the bat to warm up. But once started the benefits are immense. With the wealth of information available via the internet, notable TV docs, and support groups, the building blocks for a healthy diet can stack up faster. Here are a few key moves to make your game plan easy to achieve:
The Essentials: No need to waste your time on the obvious: ingesting little diary, read meat and refined carbs and sugar is the rule of thumb. And that means with little exceptions. I think most readers know cutting down on salt, alcohol, fatty and processed foods is a given. All are documented to be detrimental and should be avoided. The mission is to Starve the Cancer and Feed Good Health so keep the following around and show cancer who is boss:
Fermented Soy: While for quite a long time it was thought soymilk was beneficial, we now know that “fermented” soy leads the pack and protects the prostate a great deal better. Many studies done at Columbia, UCDavis, Cornell, and MDAnderson – to name a few – have shown this type of soy many indeed slow the growth of prostate cancer cells.
So what is “fermented soy?” Miso, tofu, tempeh and natto are fairly good examples. No, this is not another language these are foods that were mostly consumed by Japanese men – who have very little incidence of prostate cancer – and now are available to all. Does this mean you need to run to the nearest Japanese restaurant or stock your shelves with these staples? Not at all. Many health food stores and even supermarkets today offer a variety of soy yogurts, packaged tofu in the product section (a good substitute in dishes calling for chicken, meat, and fish due to its high protein). Just sauté’ or stir fry with beneficial veggies such as mushrooms, cabbage, kale, broccoli (all high in anti-tumor capacity) and add some spices such as ginger, garlic, turmeric – delicious and prostate positive!
So while studies have shown the benefits of fermented soy, if you are not inclined to the taste of these foods, Pulse Nutritional offers a health care professional capsule form (GCP) that provides a clinical dose of the studied original product. “(It’s a promising approach,” said Ralph de Vere White, Professor of Urology, director of the UC Davis Cancer Center, and principal investigator of the GCP studies. “If we can find a chemopreventive agent capable of slowing or stopping the progression of early, localized prostate cancer, it would be an important development in our treatment of the disease.”) Read on the PULSE web of its influential role in lowering the PSA.
Legumes: No Beans about it….they are high in protein and cancer-fighting capability! Choose chic peas, kidney beans and lentils for extra protection. What should be understood here is that while dairy should be limited, things like kidney beans, and the aforementioned tofu, kale, broccoli are ALL good sources of calcium. So you are covering a lot of territory here – eat foods proven to fight prostate cancer and still get your calcium from sources other than dairy products.
Note: For those taking hormone block treatment (which increases a risk of bone thinning) added Calcium and Vitamin D (such as in our Bonecal) would be very helpful. Exercise is also helpful for your bones and covered later in this article.
Lycopene: Start Seeing Red! And a good place to start is with facts supporting research on lycopene. Prostate specific – although new research is now showing benefit to one’s heart, eyes and skin. Excellent sources are “heated” tomatoes (sauces, natural soups – add some olive oil for better absorption); watermelon, guava, papaya and dried apricots. (grapefruit is another good source but those taking statins for cholesterol, drugs for erection problems or warfarin should consult their doctor first as you may need to avoid this source).
Don’t smother that food in ketchup either as the salt and sugar content is usually high. Processed tomato soup also does not provide the highest quality or absorption needed. So DO YOUR PART here. When it comes to Lycopene – fresh, unprocessed sources deliver all the benefits! Again, as 30mg is advised per day for prostate protection and this may be difficult to derive from your diet, Pulse recommends the Karmonas Cancer Institute compilation of this supplement with the original Lyc-O-mato material for proper absorption. Our Lycocell is available to PAACT members at a discount and will provide the clinical dose in the proper form. But I cannot stress enough to also derive from your food as much as you can. It may take more effort to make a sauce or homemade soup but the increased benefits are worth it.
Take FIVE!…. Servings of fruit and vegetables that is – each day. Sounds like a lot but it really adds up fast. Blueberries on your oatmeal (along with cinnamon to control glucose levels); lunchtime salads with spinach, watercress, avocadoes, okra, green pepper; snacking on pineapple, bananas, red grapes; and try squash, sweet potatoes or sweet corn with your dinner. It really starts to become a lot simpler to achieve when you add up the choices!
Fundamental Fluids: Drink to Your Health! Having a little red wine in my personal opinion is helpful for stimulating appetite and easing digestion plus it is rich in the anti-oxidant power found in grape skins. Of course there are numerous other fluids that should become a staple: water (always integral); pomegranate juice (pure, unsweetened); green tea (6 cups per day are really necessary to benefit) and other unsweetened juices (blueberry, cranberry, raspberry, etc.) All good choices. Of course, if you are caffeine sensitive make that green tea a decaf!
Proteins & Fats: YES you Can! I have no objection to those that wish to follow vegan diets or others they find are helping, but I personally observed many men who followed a low-fat, high fiber diet do very well indeed. This type of diet can help slow prostate cancer cell growth by up to almost 30% as reported by researchers at UCLA’S Jonsson Cancer Center and UCLA’s Dept. of Physiological Science. Combined with exercise, this diet “is the first study to directly measure its effects on inhibiting prostate cancer cell growth” said Dr. Aronson, a researcher at UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center and senior author of the study. “Based on the results of our study, we have begun a new clinical trial at UCLA to evaluate new nutritional programs that men with prostate cancer may hopefully use in the future to prevent progression of their disease” said Dr. Aronson.
So what does this mean regarding your meal planning? Well it means combing the fruits and vegetables we spoke of earlier with lean white meat such as chicken or fish, with of course the skin removed. While the jury is still out regarding removing red meat completely from one’s diet, it is suggested that it is eaten very moderately (once per week) and cuts that are lean. So that occasional steak on your
birthday or Father’s Day should not be banned due to fear you will be worsening your condition.
Regarding fats, we all need some fat for our bodies to function optimally and properly. Or course, obesity increases risk of all types of disease and health/heart problems so we do not mean getting your fats from potato chips, cake and ice cream!
Good Fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) are healthier and can be found in fish, nuts, olive and vegetable oil. I prefer extra virgin olive oil and it makes a great marinade when combined with spices such as garlic (a natural antibiotic), ginger (blood purifier), turmeric (great for your prostate!), etc.
Omega-3 is unsaturated fat in oily fishes wild salmon, mackerel and sardines), some nuts (i.e. brazil, hazelnut, walnuts, pecans) I prefer men eat wild caught rather than farm-raised fish and limit the oily fishes to 3-4 servings per week. These foods are also thought to slow down the growth of prostate cancer and recurrence after treatment. So in summary – eat the “good” fats and avoid the bad! And Enjoy!
SECOND BASE: Exercise….Move it or Lose It!….
…..Literally. While the amount and type of exercise you can do depends on your general overall state of health and any treatments you may have undergone or are presently undergoing – one fact remains certain – exercise is essential to your gaining ground on cancer and improving your quality of life and extension of life.
While I must preface this by saying all should consult their physician regarding the type of exercise plan they are planning/undertaking, once established it should be followed faithfully, at least 3-4 times per way if possible, and every day if doable! Here are the basic parameters:
Pace Yourself: While the more you can do – particularly if enjoyable – is best, it is always wise to take things slowly at first and to listen to your body – if it is saying it needs to rest at time, then by all means rest. As long as you can complete at least 3-5 times per week of a 20-30 minute session of exercise such as walking, cycling, swimming, light resistance exercise, gardening, golfing…this is very beneficial to your body AND your mind. Activities such as Yoga and mediation are also very good.
Stretch it Out: Before any activity you have undoubtedly heard the expression – stretch before starting. This is very important to both the young and old to avoid any muscle strains or injuries. It helps limber you up and gets the blood flowing for a healthy, successful workout. Again men on hormone treatment may find resistance exercise (light weights, fast walking, and swimming) best to help maintain bone mass).
Keep the Beat: The goal should be 3 to 5 times per week of optimally 30 minutes of exercise designed to get your heart beating faster and keeping it elevated for that length of time. The key is to remember that you should ALSO be able to speak while doing so – in other words if you are taking a brisk walk with a friend, you should also be able to converse while doing so and not be huffing and puffing the whole way. Now, granted, you may huff and puff the first week you start your regime but after a while your body and heart should adjust and you should be able to walk and talk (and even chew gum!) at the same time. Give this a try….you heart and body and mind will thank you!
Keep on Keepin’ On: That is what exercise is all about. The more you exercise, the more you energy you will generate and the more you will be motivated to continue your energy routine. Energy begets energy and this is a fact….so keep on moving and reap the many benefits: strength of bones, heart, lungs….clarity of mind….uplifting of spirits for natural endorphins produced by exercising. There really is no down side! If you have special limitations, just make your routine times shorter and use lower intensity exercise with periods of intermittent rest. But keep it going and reap benefits big-time!
Last but not least, Use Common Sense!
The above tips give you an idea of your targeted goal, but always use precautions and good old common sense: keep hydrated with drinking water; wear sensible clothing and foot wear; avoid exercising on unsafe terrain or uneven/slippery surfaces; never exercise when feeling sick and always STOP if experience any discomfort. For men undergoing radiotherapy and have skin irritation, chlorine in swimming pools should be avoided.
I cannot stress enough that everyone is an individual so consult your GP or other specialist to decide what type of exercise is correct for you. Then go out there and run the bases!
Third Base: Heaven Can Wait! . . .
….but good mental/spiritual outlook cannot. So if your mental frame of mind is stuck in neutral…time to put it into drive! For years now our pastors and others of religious clergy/leaders have touted the positive effects of prayer on our health. And many of us out there have put that premise to good and positive use. But what about our doctors? Well, what a decade or so ago would have been thought strange has been happening across the country: our own physicians have begun recommending prayer, meditation and other spiritual practices/activities to their patients as a “positive” ingredient to our healing and health.
Opinion Polls now show that between 9 out of 10 of Americans has a belief in God or a higher universal spirit. More and more physicians surveyed agreed that being aware of their patient’s personal religious/spiritual beliefs is important, and currently more than 85 out of around 125 American medical schools offer courses on religion, spirituality and health.
At Duke University in NC, Dr. Harold Koenig, psychiatrist and co-director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health believes there is some strong and excellent evidence that prayer can help patients cope with serious and/or terminal illness, find meaning in their lives, and reduce the risk of clinical depression. He goes on to say that he feels faith can improve a person’s immune response and help increase life expectancy.
Why do I think? Well, for readers interested, after working with hundreds of PAACT members and other cancer patients across the country, I have found that good mental attitude and a belief in God or a higher power has only enhanced their overall life and health. While I personally may be of Christian persuasion, I am not saying one must believe as I do….I just emphasize the word: FAITH….and my acronym for that: Favorable Attitude Increases Total Health!
~~~~~ So Slide into Home Base a Survivor! ~~~~~~
I sincerely hope you come away from this article learning a little more than beforehand…that you put the above suggestions to good use. I also hope that you inherit that strength of spirit that allows the soul to sour!
For sure, being a Survivor takes some effort – physically and mentally. I personally am fortunate to have spoken to, and met, countless men that in my estimation belong in the Hall of Fame.
True Survivors that have my utmost admiration.
Be Healthy and Happy and feel free to consult with me at Pulse Nutritional at any time by calling toll free 1-800-789-9109 or if you have a simple question, email email@example.com
Patricia Anne Mastroddi-Emond, Pulse Nutritional