A healthy lifestyle can reduce the risks of certain cancers and research indicates that many types of cancers are linked to unhealthy eating patterns and a sedentary lifestyle. Here to explain more, Dietician Fahmida Jafri reveals how to incorporate a diet that may just help reduce your risk of cancer.
What it means
To eat healthy and to avoid the risk of cancer, Jafri recommends that an individual should maintain a healthy weight within normal BMI range. “There should be more whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits included in the diet as well as a reduction in sugary, processed foods,” she says, as well as the inclusion of plant proteins, healthy fats, and fiber rich foods in the daily diet.
Not limited to what we consume, she urges regular physical activity. “Keep yourself active; get involved in outdoor sports, walking, jogging or swimming at least three times a week, minimum one hour per session,” Jafri explains. “Also, the best lifestyle includes a good sleep cycle, no dependencies, less stress, and good rest.”
According to Jafri, non-starchy vegetables, whole fruits and whole grains are linked with a lower cancer risk. She elaborates, “It is believed that the pigments in vegetables and fruits are the most protective against cancer. So enjoy a variety of these foods as they are often rich sources of a variety of nutrients.” Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits, and make at least half of your grains whole grains. Focus on the colorful fruits and vegetables such as eggplant, broccoli, kale, squash, oranges, kiwi, and so on, she says, to gain maximum benefits from their anti carcinogenic properties. “Many fruits and vegetables have cancer-fighting potential; for example, lycopene, a phytochemical found in cooked tomatoes and tomato products, has been shown to slow the growth of breast, lung, and endometrial tumors and to reduce prostate, stomach, and pancreatic cancer risks.”
The protein debate
Protein is the nutrient of importance for immunity and sustained health, she tells. “However, people recognize animal based protein with less importance given to plant proteins; both types have their own advantages.” To avoid inflammation and risk of cancers, it is strongly recommended to include plant proteins as 50 percent of your total protein intake. Research indicates a link between the consumption of red meat and processed meat to colon and other cancers, she says, so it is wise to choose lean meat over processed meats, reduce the portion size/frequency and importantly, include plantbased protein in the form of kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, and so on.
The American Cancer Society says high saturated-fat diets are associated with an increased risk of colon, rectal, prostate, and endometrial cancers. They also state that the consumption of red meat has been linked to colon and prostate cancers. And gram for gram, fat has more than twice the calories of carbohydrates and protein, meaning excessive amounts is likely to cause weight gain. Instead, Jafri urges to consume fish two to three times a week in order to replace the high in saturated fat meat products. “Choose oils rich in MUFA, low-fat dairy and products free of trans-fats to avoid inflammation,” she notes, and include ground flaxseeds which contain soluble fiber, alpha linolenic acid (a form of healthy omega-3 fatty acid), and are the richest source of lignans (phytoestrogens that function like antioxidants).
Anti-cancerous diet checklist
- Strive to eat 10 servings (about half cup is a serving) of fruits and vegetables a day, choosing carotene-rich produce like carrots and cantaloupe, dark green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, and citrus when possible.
- Broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts contain sulphorane which a powerful antioxidant.
- Foods such as broccoli, berries, and garlic showed some of the strongest links to cancer prevention.
- Strawberries and raspberries are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and ellagic acid, a phytochemical.
- Spinach is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that remove unstable molecules called free radicals from your body before they damage it. They’re found in spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, and some studies show they could protect against cancer of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. H