Plant-based diets may improve the sexual health of men diagnosed with prostate cancer, new research suggests.

It found that eating more fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts, and reducing meat intake, was associated with less common side effects that can affect prostate cancer patients, including erectile dysfunction and loss of bladder control.

The research – carried out by a team from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, which analyzed data from more than 3,500 men with prostate cancer – is the latest in a long line of studies linking diet plant-based health and wellness. well-being benefits. So how else could adopting a more plant-based diet be good for you?

What are the broader benefits of a plant-based diet?

“There are several potential health benefits of a plant-based diet,” says Vassiliki Sinopoulou, registered dietitian and senior research assistant at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

“A diet low in meat and animal products may be associated with lower consumption of saturated fat, increased vitamins and other health-promoting substances, and healthier body weight levels.”

It's not just avoiding saturated fats in animal products that benefits your health – it's also the added nutrients and fiber you get from consuming more fruits, vegetables and beans.

“Polyphenols are beneficial substances found in foods of plant origin. They can be found in berries, nuts, olives, broccoli, and other fruits and vegetables that we all recognize as healthy. Polyphenols can also be found in foods with perhaps more controversial reputations, such as chocolate, coffee, tea and wine,” adds Sinopoulou.

“For example, they can have anti-inflammatory effects and also help our bodies regulate blood sugar levels, help with heart problems and have anti-cancer properties.”

Adopt a well-rounded lifestyle approachIt's important to remember, though, that when it comes to supporting your health, what we eat is only part of the picture. Plant-based coach and holistic wellness advocate Jeffrey Boadi (jeffreyboadi.com) suggests thinking about your lifestyle in general rather than fad diets and quick fixes.

“Focus on how your daily actions — around nutrition, training, and sleep — support your long-term health, rather than quick tricks,” says Broadi, who switched to plants in 2017.“I switched to a plant-based diet after finding a lot of information about how it could be beneficial for long-term health,” he adds. “I fell in love with the process of cooking from scratch and creating delicious dishes that could continue to fuel my education and lifestyle. My preference is to opt for whole foods, but I’m not dogmatic about it – especially in social settings.”

Keep things simple

Boadi doesn't think healthy eating needs to be difficult, but for it to be truly beneficial, it needs to be part of your everyday life.

“Nutrition and fitness are important, but it's a long-term game, which is why it should become part of your daily lifestyle without a granular focus on short-term results,” he explains.

“Food should nourish, be enjoyed and even bring people together. It is not intended to create anxiety, cause people to seek out unsustainable crash diets, and only focus on short-term goals that do not support their health.

“Daily health-promoting habits practiced consistently (daily exercise, good sleep habits, adding lots of color to your plate, and spending time with friends and family) are much more productive and effective in the long term.”

Opt for “real” foods over processed ones

Going vegan doesn't automatically make you healthier either, especially if you're still relying on processed foods and not getting that all-important variety of whole ingredients.

“The rise of plant-based diets has seen a huge increase in the number of ultra-processed plant-based foods that are ready to eat with no or minimal preparation. These foods can have similar profiles to “bad” meat products and can negate the benefits generally associated with plant-based diets,” says Sinopoulou.

“Ultra-processed plant-based foods can lead to higher body weights, just like other ultra-processed foods. Taking the time to prepare a healthy, nutritious salad is more beneficial than eating a pre-prepared vegan burger that is high in calories from meat substitutes.

“There are many plant sources rich in calcium. Spinach, soybeans, chickpeas, almonds, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots and oranges are some good examples.”

What about protein?

Getting enough protein in our diets is always important – and it can be possible even on an entirely plant-based diet.

“If you cut out meat and meat products, then legumes (beans, lentils, peas), mushrooms, soy (tofu, soy milk), nuts and seeds will be your friends,” says Sinopoulou. “There is also protein in bread, pasta, potatoes and many vegetables.

“Plant-derived protein used to be viewed as being of lower quality than protein from meat products, however, this is now considered antiquated thinking as we know that the muscle mass of people who meet their protein needs from plant-derived sources is no different from carnivores.”

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