by guest blogger Bobbi Peterson
They say you are what you eat, and when it comes to cancer that becomes especially important. Research has shown that the foods you include in your diet can either protect you from cancer or promote the growth of malignant cells. What foods should you enjoy to live a healthy and cancer-free life?
- Fiber Protection
You might not start thinking about the fiber content of your food unless you start having some gastrointestinal distress, but a diet high in fiber can help to protect you against colorectal cancer and a variety of other digestive cancers. A trial completed in the 1990’s found that a high fiber diet with lots of fruits and vegetables help to reduce the chances for cancer by up to 35%.
A high fiber diet may also protect against breast cancer, but the research for this specifically cites a diet high in whole grains and wheat bran rather than just general dietary fiber. A diet rich in fiber may also protect against cancers of the mouth, throat, and esophagus.
Most people don’t get enough fiber in their diet — the average adult usually eats between 10 and 15 grams of fiber every day, where they should be consuming about 30-35 grams for the optimum cancer protection properties.
- Stock up on Antioxidants
Antioxidants are chemicals that are found in some foods that neutralize cells known as free radicals, which can cause damage in systems throughout the body. The body actually produces some on its own, but in cases where an individual has been diagnosed with cancer, they are often not enough to counteract the growth of the malignant cells.
Studies have found that antioxidants can prevent these free radicals from causing the kind of damage in the body that encourages cancer growth — at least in lab animals. Studies conducted with human participants have had mixed results and have not proven conclusively whether or not these chemicals are useful tools in cancer prevention or treatment.
- Have a Cuppa
There’s nothing more relaxing than a nice hot cup of tea, but this leafy beverage also has some surprising health benefits.
Both white and green teas are very lightly processed, allowing them to retain the highest levels of antioxidants, which we’ve already discussed as a chemical that may help protect against cancer.
Black tea, which is the one you’re probably most familiar with, may help to protect your lungs from cigarette smoke and lung damage. While quitting smoking is the best option to protect your lungs, black tea might help reduce the damage until you’re able to quit.
- Keep a Healthy Weight
Obesity has been determined to be the cause or at least linked with a number of types of cancer, including breast, colon, rectal and uterine cancers. Other cancers, such as cervical, ovarian and liver cancers, may have their chances increased due to obesity or the patient being overweight.
While the link between weight and cancer has been definitively determined, it’s not yet known why a patient’s weight increases or decreases their chance for developing the disease.
Choosing a healthy diet, paying attention to portion sizes and avoiding foods that create a cancer risk are all good ways to help reduce the possibility of being diagnosed with cancer.
- Calcium in Moderation
We all know calcium is important for strong bones in children and in adults to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, but too much calcium isn’t good for you. The average adult should try to keep their calcium intake between 500 and 1000 mg, either from supplements or from diet. Dosages higher than that, around 2,000 mg, have been shown to increase the chances of men developing prostate cancer. While the link wasn’t considered to be significant enough to cause concern, it is still recommended that men keep their calcium intake below 2,000 mg daily.
None of these are 100 percent effective food choices to ensure you will never get cancer — they’re just lifestyle changes that you can make to help reduce your chances of being diagnosed. The key is to strive to eat a healthy diet, but to do everything — even healthy eating — in moderation. Any specific questions can and should always be directed to your doctor.
We are what we eat, after all — shouldn’t we be making the best choices about what we put in our bodies?
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