Optimizing Quality of Life During and After Prostate Cancer Treatment

image of healthy foodsLifestyle changes are among the top recommendations for the prevention of prostate cancer and recurrence according to the American Cancer Society. Their recommendations include eating at least 2 ½ cups of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables each day, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight. You may also limit calcium supplements, avoid eating overcooked or charbroiled meats, and include more cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower) and cooked tomato products that are rich in lycopene.

How can nutrition and exercise help during treatment? If you are having side effects from your treatments, adjusting your diet or lifestyle can help alleviate them.

If you are undergoing radiation and diarrhea is plaguing you, avoid hard-to-digest foods such as citrus or acidic foods, foods high in insoluble fiber (such as wheat and bran), fatty and greasy foods and beverages with caffeine. Focus instead on foods rich in soluble fiber and pectins that have a binding effect such as white rice, applesauce, pears, oatmeal and other oat-based foods.

Fatigue and fluid retention are associated with the prostate cancer drug docetaxel (Taxotere).  Getting enough calories is crucial if you are experiencing fatigue. Strive to eat 3 regular meals per day with at least one protein-rich food, such as meat, fish, poultry, beans or nuts, at each meal. Add snacks as needed to make sure you don’t lose weight.  Equally important to preventing fatigue is fluid intake. Try for at least 8-10 cups (64-80 ounces) per day. If you are experiencing fluid retention, such as puffy, swollen legs, avoid foods high in sodium like bacon, sausage, lunchmeat, pre-packaged meals, frozen dinners and canned vegetables or soups.

Hormone therapy is another prostate cancer treatment with potential side effects, including fatigue, weight gain, decreased muscle mass, and loss of bone density. Exercise is probably the best thing to prevent them. A combination of aerobic exercise (such as walking) and strength training (such as resistance bands or weights) is recommended.  Aerobic activity can be done daily, but leave a day of rest between strength training workouts to allow for repair and muscle building. Due to the increased risk of diabetes, heart attacks and rises in cholesterol, diet remains key. Focus on:

  • whole grains
  • lean meats (low in saturated fat)
  • meatless protein-rich alternatives
    • beans
    • nuts
    • soy foods,
  • lots of fruits and vegetables