Cancer is one of the most dreadful diseases spreading like an epidemic today. With the change in the lifestyle and more reasons to take stress, cancer is on a roll. Research shows that a large percentage of cancer-related deaths, may be even the majority are directly linked to lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, a lack of exercise, and an unhealthy diet. But to actually lead an anti-cancer life one needs to focus on good healthy food and an active routine.
The food you eat has a powerful effect on your health, including your risk of cancer. You may land up eating many foods that fuel cancer, while neglecting the powerful foods and nutrients that can protect you. If you change your diet and behaviors, you can minimize your risk of disease and possibly even stop cancer in its tracks.
As per the American institute of Cancer the percentage of cancer that can be prevented by healthy diet and regular activity and correct weight are given below:
Cancer Site %
Endometrium (lining of the uterus) 70
Mouth, pharynx and larynx 63
Breast, female 38
Food Guidelines to prevent cancer:
â€¢ Focus more on plant based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, pulses etc. you can add them in your diet in many ways like: start your day with fruits and nuts, have some whole grain cereal for breakfast, make sure to have a big portion of salads like lettuce, tomatoes, beetroot, cucumbers etc pre lunch and dinner , carry snacks like fruits, trail mixes( sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, walnuts etc), opt for sandwiches with multigrain breads and lot of veggies in it.
â€¢ Fiber is the key component to prevent cancer. All plant based foods are rich in fiber which helps to keep your digestive system clean and healthy and pushes the cancer causing compounds out of the gut before they can harm you. You can add fiber to your diet by: replacing white rice with brown rice, eating the fruits with skin, choosing popcorn over potato chips etc.
â€¢ Avoid processed foods or any form of treatment done to them. Whole is the best. The more you eat food in original form the better protection it gives. For example instead of drinking orange juice, peel and eat the orange or prepare oatmeal porridge with raisins rather than having an oatmeal raisin cookie.
â€¢ Cut down on red meat and whole fat milk as research shows that vegetarians are about fifty percent less likely to develop cancer than those who eat meat. That is because meat and milk lack fiber, antioxidants and nutrients that have cancer protective properties and is high on saturated fat which is linked with increased risk of cancer. But you donâ€™t need to eliminate meat completely. A good visual reminder is to have 2/3rd of your plate filled with plant foods and 1/3rd of it with meat and dairy products. You can cut them down by: choosing a palm size of it, adding some salads or beans to it rather than using it as the main element. Choose fish or lean chicken as they are low on fat, avoid processed meats like sausages, salamis etc.
â€¢ Choose your fats smartly. Saturated and trans fats are demons for health so limit them. Saturated fats are found in butter, ghee, eggs, whole fat milk and red meats and trans fats are found in processed and junk foods like burgers, pizzas etc. on the other hand unsaturated fats like MUFA and PUFA are found in oils thatâ€™s are liquid at room temperature like olive oil, ricebran oil, etc and other sources are avocados, nuts like walnuts, almonds etc. Also focus on omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation and support brain and heart health. Good sources include fish like salmon, tuna, and flaxseeds. You can add them by: eating fish 1-2/week, adding flaxseeds to your salad, avoiding fried foods, checking the label for bad fats.
â€¢ Opt for cancer-fighting foods. You immune system needs to be strong to fight against any cancer causing agents. But not any one food does the miracle. You need to eat a variety of colorful foods with antioxidants(vitamin A, C, E and selenium) and phytochemicals that help strengthen immunity and fight diseases. Such foods are tomatoes, broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables, grapes, cranberry, carrots, cabbage, garlic,onions, grapefruits, chilli peppers, jalapeno, soy products like tofu, blueberries etc. green tea is also antioxidant rich, so replace your black tea with 3 cups of green tea/day.
â€¢ Drink plenty of water as it helps to eliminate toxins from the body and supply nutrients to the cancer cells which can kill them and prevent them from multiplying. Avoid sugary drinks like colas, juices etc as they increase inflammation and cancer growth.
Tips of cooking food: it is not only about choosing but also preparing the food in the correct manner to preserve its nutrients.
â€¢ Wash the vegetables and fruits with a brush to remove all pesticide residues.
â€¢ Eat raw as much as possible as they are maximum in nutrients.
â€¢ Steam the vegetables using very little water to prevent nutrient loss.
â€¢ Prevent over heating of oil as it can become carcinogenic. Instead of deep-frying, pan-frying, and sautÃ©ing, opt for healthier methods such as baking, boiling, steaming, or broiling.
â€¢ Store oils in a cool dark place to prevent it from become rancid.
â€¢ Use microwave friendly containers of good quality to prevent plastic material interaction with food.
â€¢ Avoid foods that look or smell moldy, as they likely contain aflatoxin, a strong carcinogen. Aflatoxin is most commonly found on moldy peanuts. Nuts will stay fresh longer if kept in the refrigerator or freezer.
â€¢ Reach your ideal weight. Try to maintain it for optimum health.
â€¢ Exercise for 30 minutes daily, be it walking, jogging, dancing, playing any sport etc as per your wish and preference. Choose an active lifestyle like climbing up and down the stairs rather than suing a lift, walking up to nearby places etc.
â€¢ Listen to good relaxing music.
â€¢ Try to get atleast 20 mins of sunshine in the morning for your vitamin D replenishment.
â€¢ Avoid smoking and alcohol intake as much as possible.