Can your diet protect you from cancer?
Did you know that what you eat can have a major impact on your risk of cancer? While there is no one “magic bullet” that can prevent cancer, making healthy food choices is definitely an important step in the right direction. In this guide, we will discuss the benefits of maintaining a healthy diet and provide tips for how to make the best choices possible.
What is cancer, and what are the risk factors for developing it
Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and invade nearby tissues. It can develop anywhere in the body, and there are many different types, each with its own set of symptoms and treatment options. The most common risk factors for developing cancer include:
- Family history of cancer
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Exposure to cancer-causing agents (e.g., certain chemicals or radiation)
While some of these risk factors are out of your control, there are things you can do to lower your cancer risk. One of the best things you can do is maintain a healthy weight and eat a healthy diet that includes cancer-fighting foods.
A healthy, balanced diet and active lifestyle can reduce your risk of cancer.
A healthy, balanced diet is key to cancer prevention. Here are some general tips for getting started:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants and other cancer-fighting compounds that can help protect your body from disease. Aim to include at least five servings of fresh produce each day.
- Choose lean protein sources. Protein is essential for healthy cell growth and cancer prevention. Try to include lean protein sources such as fish, poultry, legumes, and low-fat dairy products in your diet.
- Avoid processed foods. Processed foods are often high in fat, sugar, and sodium and can be detrimental to your health. Instead, focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining good health and can help reduce your cancer risk. aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day.
- Avoid sugary drinks. Sugary drinks like fizzy drinks and fruit juice are a leading source of added sugar in western diets. Added sugar is linked with a number of health problems, including cancer. Opt for water or unsweetened herbal teas instead.
- Limit alcohol intake. Heavy alcohol consumption can increase your cancer risk. If you do drink, try to stick to moderate amounts.
- Avoid tobacco products. Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are major causes of cancer. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.
- Get regular exercise. Exercise has numerous health benefits and can help reduce your cancer risk. aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
- Maintain healthy cholesterol levels. A study found that cholesterol may be a key component in cancer cells becoming more resilient and able to metastasize. If you’re looking to manage cholesterol levels, our article Lowering cholesterol through diet could help.
Making healthy food choices is a great way to reduce your cancer risk. By following the tips above, you can make a positive impact on your health and reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.
The benefits of eating organic foods
While there is no specific evidence that eating organic foods can prevent cancer, there are many other benefits to choosing organic. Organic foods are grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilisers. This means they are free from harmful chemicals that can be toxic to your body. Additionally, organic foods are typically higher in nutrients than their conventional counterparts, providing your body with more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
If you are looking to eat a healthier diet, choosing organic foods is a great place to start. Not only will you be reducing your exposure to harmful chemicals, but you will also be getting more nutrients from the food you eat.
Foods to eat to prevent cancer
There are many cancer-preventing foods that you can include in your diet. Some of the best cancer-fighting foods include:
- Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale are all great options. These veggies contain powerful cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that might have beneficial effects on the development of certain cancers, especially prostate cancer *.
- Berries: Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are all great choices. These little fruits are packed with antioxidants.
- Salmon: Salmon is a great source of omega-three fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce cancer risk. Be careful with your choice of fish though, regularly eating farmed salmon could increase rather than decrease your cancer risk.
- Garlic: Garlic is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to fight cancer *.
- Green tea: Green tea is also high in antioxidants, so although studies haven’t concluded a storing link to decreasing cancer risk, it has been shown to improve blood flow and lower cholesterol.
It’s important to remember that even “superfoods” cannot prevent cancer on their own. The key to staying healthy is to eat a balanced diet full of nutrients and whole foods.
Foods to avoid in order to reduce your cancer risk
Just as there are cancer-preventing foods, there are also cancer-causing foods that you should avoid. Some of the worst offenders include:
- Processed meats: Processed meats like bacon, sausage, and deli meat are high in cancer-causing chemicals and have been classified as a ‘definite’ cause of cancer.
- Refined carbohydrates: Refined carbs like white bread, pasta, and sugar are linked with cancer. One study showed that those who consumed a diet high in refined carbs were almost twice as likely to die from colon cancer than those who ate a diet low in refined carbs.
- Fried foods: Fried foods are high in unhealthy fats and chemicals that can increase your cancer and obesity risk.
- Alcohol: Heavy alcohol consumption can increase your cancer risk.
To reduce your cancer risk, stick to a healthy, balanced diet and avoid foods that are heavily processed.
How to make healthy changes to your diet
Getting started with changes can be the hardest part. If you’re not sure where to start, maybe a Nutritional Therapy Plan will help. Once you have had some tests to determine how your diet is nourishing you at the moment you will be able to get personalised advice from a Dietitian or Nutritional Therapist to help you plan out your first steps.
Related blog: Dieting vs. lifestyle changes
Spotting cancer early
Spotting the signs of cancers early can be vitally important for successful treatment. Our cancer risk health check packages are designed for anyone wanting to check on cancer risk factors even though they are not experiencing any symptoms.
Symptoms of cancer can vary depending on the type of cancer, if you experience any unusual symptoms you should visit your GP.
For more information visit our guide: