Preventing Cancer Through Diet and Nutrition

Scientists now believe that over one-third of cancers are directly related to a lack of proper nutrition, and diets that are high in fat and low in fiber. Forty percent of all men’s cancer and sixty percent of women’s cancers can be prevented by eating foods high in fiber, rich in antioxidants, and low in fat.

Fat should make up no more than 20% of your total caloric intake per day. Eating more lean meats, like chicken and turkey, as well as lean cuts of red meat will help to reduce daily fat intake. Fats can clog the arteries and slows the blood flow in the body, making it easier for toxins to become trapped in the bloodstream, which can lead to colon, breast, prostate, ovarian, and even skin cancer. Menstruated fats, such as those found in canola oil, olive oil, and peanut oil are considered the healthiest fats to consume.

Fiber is necessary for lowering and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and sweeping bacteria from the colon. Fiber also prevents toxins from harming the fragile lining of the colon. While it has only been proven to prevent colon cancer, ongoing studies are producing evidence that fiber may also help to prevent stomach and breast cancer; fiber helps the body to get rid of estrogen, and excessive estrogen in a women’s body can increase the risk of breast cancer. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers are found in foods like rice bran, oatmeal, and barley, and work to lower cholesterol. However, insoluble fibers, such as those found in wheat bran and the woody stems of vegetables and fruit, provide the greatest defense against colon cancer.

Antioxidants found in food, such as Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Beta-Carotene also protect the body from free radicals, which are harmful chemicals found in car exhaust, tobacco smoke, x-rays, and sunlight. Free radicals can attack cell membranes and damage the DNA of cells, which causes cancer. Foods with antioxidants include green, leafy vegetables, like spinach and cabbage, which are rich in Vitamin C; sunflower seeds and wheat germ, which contain vitamin E, and papaya and tomatoes, which contain beta-carotene. In addition, allylic sulfide, which is found in garlic and onion, work much like antioxidants; allylic sulfide activates enzymes that neutralize carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) in the body. Another anticancer compound, genistein, helps to prevent blood vessels from forming around tumors.

Making the switch to a ‘cancer prevention’ diet can take some adjusting, but with the right planning, you can make your new eating choices fit comfortably within your daily routine. The main switch most Americans have to make is from a diet that is high in saturated fats and carbohydrates to one with more lean meats-and, according to recent surveys, almost 50% of Americans have made changes to their diets in order to improve their health. The key is to select healthy food combinations that don’t have to be bland, and to make sure that you’re consuming the right amounts of fruits, vegetables, and fiber per day. One of the best ways to do this is to keep a food log. This may only be necessary for the first week or so that you start your new diet, but it will help you to keep track of the amount of nutrients you’re consuming with each meal, as well as portion sizes and calories per meal. In your food log, you should include each food item you consume during each meal. Be sure to indicate whether the fruits of vegetables you eat are raw or cooked (there are more nutrients in raw fruits and vegetables), and if you’re eating out, be sure to ask your waiter or waitress what the portion size of your meal will be. Don’t forget to write down any small additions to your meal, such as butter, sauces, sugar, or condiments. These items can add fat to your meal and should be included in your overall fat intake for the day.

Here are a few nutritious (and tasty) food choices for each meal of a cancer prevention diet. Once you become used to remembering which nutrients are in each food item, it will become easier to put meals together on a daily basis. Many of the foods we normally consume everyday are included; however, servings may need to be adjusted in order to gain full nutritional value from your food.

Breakfast: Start your day with a healthy dose of fiber, fruit, and at least one dairy product. A breakfast that includes all of these would be whole wheat waffles or pancakes with fruit, like strawberries, blueberries, or a banana, with a dairy product, like a serving of yogurt or a glass of reduced fat milk. Avoid foods like white bread and eggs, as these contain low amounts of fiber and high amounts of fat and cholesterol. And keep drinks with caffeine to a minimum; one cup of coffee or tea in the morning is sufficient.

Lunch: Another serving of fiber for lunch is recommended, like whole wheat bread or pasta. Eat at least two servings of vegetables, such as lettuce or tomato on a sandwich or a salad, or vegetables in soup or pasta. One serving of a lean meat or poultry can be eaten at lunch. A fresh fruit juice to drink can count as an additional fruit serving. Cut down on fattening foods, like whole milk, jams or jellies with high amounts of sugar, and peanut butter.

Dinner: One more serving of fiber is necessary for dinner-brown rice or raw vegetables will cover this. One serving of lean red meat or poultry can be eaten with dinner for additional protein. Instead of cakes or pastries for dessert, try fresh fruit with whipped cream or fat-free yogurt or ice cream. Avoid fried foods (like fried chicken), and foods with large amounts of carbohydrates, like mashed potatoes.

Snacks: A couple of snacks per day, like raw fruits or vegetables, oatmeal cookies or crackers, or a serving of yogurt in between meals will help you to fit in the right amount of vitamins and minerals per day.

In addition to eating healthily, regular exercise is also recommended. Cardiovascular exercise no less than three times a week for up to twenty minutes can increase the blood flow in the body and allow toxins to exit the body quicker, which reduces the chances of tumors forming.

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