A Plant-Based Diet: Preventing Cancer through Nutrition
By Vera Viner
The choices we make when deciding on what foods to consume are critical to our long-term health. Certain foods can decrease our risk of cancer and improve our immune system. Other foods can actually increase our risk of certain cancers – including breast cancer.
A huge amount of cancer deaths can be attributed directly to lifestyle factors such as drinking, smoking, an unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise. One’s eating habits are a huge part of preventing cancer. Many people do not even realize that the foods they eat may be stimulating cancer growth. People that regularly eat fruits and vegetables may also not know all of the health benefits this will bring. Such foods have vital properties that actually stop cancer in its tracks and prevent people from getting this miserable disease.
The best diet to have when fighting off cancer is a plant-based diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This list also includes nuts and beans. If these foods are mostly unprocessed, they will be that much healthier for you. A good example is to consume a plate of food that is 2/3 plant-based and only 1/3 dairy, fish or meat. Try to minimize the amount of processed foods you eat. You could eat an orange instead of drinking orange juice, which is often filled with extra sugar.
Some more tips include cutting up a fruit to add to your whole grain cereal in the morning or adding tomatoes and lettuce to your sandwiches at lunch. A great mid-afternoon snack may be some carrots, cucumbers, or celery stalks. For dinner, stir fry some vegetables to add to a spaghetti or rice dish. If you can, buy organic foods.
Eating plant-based foods will increase the amount of fiber you take in. Fiber is vital for keeping your digestive system free of carcinogens. It moves food smoothly through the digestive tract and removes cancer-causing chemicals. Foods high in fiber and cancer-fighting chemicals include whole grains, fruit, legumes, and vegetables. It is also important to remember that white rice and white bread contain no fiber. Please choose brown rice and whole-grain bread instead. When in a bakery, choose a bran muffin instead of a pastry.
Statistical research illustrates that vegetarians are 50% less likely to get cancer than meat-eaters. This does not mean that a vegetarian will never get cancer nor does it mean that someone who eats meat will definitely get cancer. However, these statistics do show that meat does not provide us with the same nutrients as seen in a predominantly plant-based diet. A problem seen with meat is its high abundance of saturated fat. A diet high in fat has been linked to cancer development.
A small amount of meat (as low as 15% of your total calorie count) should help keep your cancer risk to a minimum. Also, one should eat red meat only on rare occasions. It is better to consume lean meats such as fish, chicken, or turkey. Processed meats like hot dogs and sausages can actually increase your cancer risk so it is best to avoid these meats.
Cutting out fats entirely is not the answer to reducing your cancer risk. There are specific fats that the body does not need. These include saturated fats and trans fats, which are commonly found in whole milk/dairy, red meat, and eggs. There are actually certain fats that can decrease your cancer risk. These include unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids found in tuna, salmon, olive oil, flax seeds, nuts, canola oil, and avocados. Some tips for your daily meals are to choose nonfat dairy products, add nuts and seeds to your meals, and eat fish a couple of times a week.
In order to improve the amount of antioxidants in your foods, choose light and colorful fruits and vegetables and use immune-boosting spices when cooking. Also, make sure to drink a fair amount of water throughout the day. Water is a necessary ingredient to all of your bodily functions.
By following these tips, you will go a long way in preventing cancer. Please spread our message of cancer prevention to your friends and family!
Paul, Maya W., and Melinda Smith. “Anti-Cancer Diet: Cancer Prevention Nutrition Tips & Cancer Fighting Foods.” Helpguide.org: Expert, Ad-free Articles Help Empower You with Knowledge, Support & Hope. Apr. 2010. Web. 03 Jan. 2012. <http://www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_diet_cancer_prevention.htm>.