Your diet plays an important role in maintaining good health. There are many foods that are associated with developing cancer and there are many foods that reduce the risk of cancer. For eg, processed meat if taken daily can increase risk of cancer of the rectum, whereas soy-based foods such as soya milk, bean curd and tofu render protection from cancer of the breast and ovaries.
Fruits and vegetables if included in the diet in appropriate amount can decrease the risk of many types of cancer.
Why are fruits and vegetables considered to be cancer-fighting powerhouses?
Fruits and Vegetables are excellent sources of good fats, fiber and antioxidant (cancer fighting compound) which enhance your immune system and help your body fight cancer.
What are the important dietary tips to prevent cancer?
Limit packaged food – Minimize the amount of processed foods. Instead focus on adding whole foods in the diet, e.g. one whole apple instead of an apple juice.
Opt for the fibres- Include plenty of fibres in your diet, in the form of whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables. Cut down on red and processed foods and meats as they lack fibre and other nutrients that have a cancer protective role.
Keep a check on the meat you eat – Some of the processed meat like sausages, bacon and salami contain carcinogenic compound, and are hence very harmful to the body. So always incorporate more eggs, poultry, fish and vegetarian sources of proteins such as soy, nuts, cottage, cheese, milk and pulses.
Choose fats wisely and eat them in moderation – Avoid trans fats, saturated fats present in fast and fried foods. The healthy fats are unsaturated fats which come from sources such as olive oil, nuts and oil seeds.
Omega 3 fats are the best – Also include omega-3 fats which are anti-inflammatory and support good health. Good sources are salmon, tuna, beans and legumes, nuts, oil seeds and dark green leafy vegetable.
Opt for raw veges & fruits for roughage – Include 4-5 servings of raw fruits and vegetable in your diet. They have the highest amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly in lukewarm water using a vegetable brush to reduce pesticide residue.
Always add water when you cook – Always cook in a small amount of water to preserve vitamins. Choose the right method of cooking such as boiling, steaming, poaching, stewing and baking. Avoid barbequing, roasting at high temperature, grilling and frying, charcoal broiling. Use immune boosting herbs and spices such as ginger, garlic, curry powder and turmeric.
Include seasonal, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables – They are powerhouses of natural plant phenolic some of which may display cancer inhibitory properties. They are high in fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals that neutralize harmful free radicals.
Avoid highly irradiated foods – Avoid canned or processed foods which produce toxic substances. Do not consume bitter tasting cereals, nuts, corns which are contaminated with aflatoxins which are highly carcinogenic.
Cut down on salt– Cured foods and pickle, salt-cured fish, meats. Avoid too much sugar and sweet product as they are high in calories, low in vitamins and minerals and promote obesity.
Consume soy-based products – They inhibit cell cycle progression and have antioxidant properties. Take about 2-3 cup of green tea per day as it renders protection against cancer of the lungs, oesophagus, stomach and skin.
Always use microwave-safe containers to heat food – Do not ever cook food in a microwave oven.
Opt for fluids – Flood yourself with about 2-2.5 L of fluids in the form of juice, coconut water, soups, lemon water, plain water to reduce the risk of bladder cancer by shortening the contact time of carcinogens with the bladder lining.
Limit your Alcohol – Alcoholic drinks should be restricted to two drinks per day for men and one drink for women. Excess alcohol intake increases the risk of various cancers like cancer of the throat, larynx, mouth and oesophagus.
The bottom line is that our dietary choices play a major role in helping protect us against cancer. Eating healthy, staying physically active and maintaining a desirable weight is essential to reduce the risk of developing cancer by up to 30-40%