How much are you looking forward to dinner tonight? Don’t you want to munch on a delicious piece of steak or a burger right now? We all know how tasty red meat may be, but we still need to try our hardest to stick to a healthy and cancer-preventive diet.
There are countless of tips and advice online about the type of food that can prevent cancer and the type that may lead to cancer. However, all this information may be overwhelming and you may not know exactly what to believe.
This is where we come in and provide well-researched data from reputable sources. The Harvard Medical School explains in a publication that 70 percent of your lifetime risk of getting cancer is dependent on controllable factors like diet.
“It’s not 100% certain that consuming more or less of certain foods or nutrients will guarantee cancer protection,” says Dr. Edward Giovannucci of Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “But science has found that certain dietary habits tend to have a greater influence.”
There are four specific areas that Harvard Medical School pointed out in terms of how diet can prevent cancer.
The findings from Harvard Medical School outline that red meat and processed meat are harmful for people’s health and tied to cancer development. Research from 30 studies has found that eating about 50 grams or 2 ounces a day of processed meat is linked to an approximately 20 percent rise in colorectal cancer risk.
Red meat also has a similar rise in cancer risk as processed meat. Colorectal cancer is a common cancer found in men, so to reduce this risk, eating less processed or red meat is advised. Giovannucci said that the nitrates in processed meat and the heme iron group in red meat may be leading to a higher rate of cancer development.
Another great way to stay healthier and prevent cancer is to increase the amount of antioxidants in your diet. This means adding more vegetables and fruits to your daily diet.
The reason antioxidants are key for preventing cancer is due to their stabilization of free radicals, which are known to harm healthy cells. Increasing dietary intake of antioxidants early in life is advised.
“We don’t yet know how long you would need to take extra antioxidants for a benefit to be seen,” said Dr. Walter Willett of the T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Some cancers develop over many decades, and you may need to increase dietary antioxidants in your early years to see a benefit.”
Fruits and vegetables with a high amount of antioxidants are also great at keeping you healthy in other ways, such as keeping your heart strong. Your best bet is to have a varied diet with many different types of antioxidants.
“Focus on bright colors, such as dark green, orange, purple, and red fruits and vegetables—for instance, spinach, carrots, and tomatoes,” explained Dr. Willett.
Carbohydrates tend to be a complex issue in terms of how foods filled with carbs will impact cancer development. This is where the Glycemic index comes in. The Glycemic index explains how quickly carbohydrates turn into sugar in the blood.
Research shows that foods with a high glycemic index tends to lead to a greater risk of certain cancers. For instance, one study of 3,100 people found that eating foods with a glycemic index of 70 or more on the 100-point scale was linked to an 88 percent higher risk for prostate cancer.
Additionally, a diet filled with beans, peas, lentils, and other foods with low Glycemic index was associated with a 32 percent decreased risk of colorectal and prostate cancers. Lung cancer is also linked to a diet with higher Glycemic index scores.
Another way that you could lower your risk of cancer is to potentially increase your intake of calcium. What takes place in the human body is calcium binds to bile acids and fatty acids in the stomach. The calcium essentially protects cells from damage by the stomach acids.
“We do not know for certain why calcium has such a wide influence on cancer,” says Dr. Giovannucci. “Your best bet is to keep your daily calcium intake to 500 mg to 1,000 mg per day, either from food like dairy products or supplements.”
If you have a family history of breast cancer or other forms of cancer, be sure to eat a healthy plant-based diet and follow these four strategies to reduce your risk of the disease. Your diet is key in the fight against cancer.