Chronic diseases such as cancers are greatly present and often lethal. In fact, cancer is the cause of 30% of deaths, and over 202 400 cases have been diagnosed in Canada in 2016. This is why we need to prevent and stop this problem as of now! Follow these 6 tips to maximize cancer prevention!
The word “cancer” in latin means crab. The crab is associated to cancer because of its ressemblance to the infiltration of cancerous disease into the veins.
What are the causes of cancer?
The causes of cancer are very numerous, and include non-modifiable factors, such as genetics, age, immune system problems and exposure to carcinogenic agents, and modifiable factors. These modifiable factors, that you and I have control over to prevent cancer are the use of tobacco, alcohol consumption, and life habits (active lifestyle and healthy eating habits). By maximizing healthy life habits, 30% of cancer cases could be prevented, which I honestly find is a considerable proportion. 😃
How can I prevent cancer via my eating habits?
1. Maintain a healthy weight
Yes, maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent against cancers, along with other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases. Excess weight often causes long term inflammation in the body, which can lead to DNA damage and cause cancers. However, maintaining a healthy weight does not necessarily mean being as skinny as possible (this could lead to other problems); it means staying at a happy and healthy weight!
2. Limit energy-dense foods
Limiting energy-dense processed foods, such as sweet or fizzy drinks, sugary sweets, fast food and other ultra-processed foods will help you maintain a healthy weight! To make sure that what you are having is not an energy-dense food, you can look at the ingredients and verify that fats and sugars are not in the first three ingredients, and you can look for foods with less than 225 – 275 calories per 100 g or 100 mL of product. If you already eat these products frequently, try reducing them gradually and having them occasionally. We still want to keep a balance between pleasure and health! Note that having unprocessed energy-dense foods, such as nuts and grains is okay.
3. Include plant-based foods in your diet
Try having at least 5 portions (or about 2 – 3 cups) of non-starchy fruit and vegetable per day. Non-starchy fruits and vegetables are rich in natural anti-oxydants, which can help normalise/neutralize free radicals that could cause damage to your cells and DNA. I will also emphasize the fact that I am talking about anti-oxydants naturally present in foods, and not synthetic anti-oxydants like in supplements or vitamins. You do not need to take anti-oxydant or vitamin supplements if your diet covers your essential needs. In fact, synthetic anti-oxydants could be harmful for your health in certain cases. Did you know that studies saw worse outcomes with anti-oxydant supplementation, especially in smokers who developed more lung cancer.
4. Reduce red meats
Limiting red meats (beef, porc, lamb, goat…) to 1 – 2 meals per week will not only help you reduce the bad saturated fats that you intake, but could help reduce risk of colon cancer.
5. Limit alcohol intake
Try to limit alcohol intake. For cancer prevention, it is best to not consume any alcohol at all, but if you want to have a balance between health and pleasure, reducing your intake to a maximum of 1 – 2 standard consumptions / day might suffice. Many might argue that red wine is ‘good for health’. Yes and no. The intake of alcohol, whether it comes from a strong alcoholic beverage, beer or any wine, increases cancer risk. However, the resveratrol present in red wine (from the skin of grapes) helps prevent against heart diseases.
6. Reduce processed and salty foods
Processed and salty foods are associated with stomach cancers. This category of products include preserved meats (cold cuts, sausages, pepperoni, other cured meats), crackers and chips, store-bought sauces and dips, store-bought ready-to-eat meals, and highly processed cheese products (Yes, it is usually written ‘cheese product’ on the package. It cannot be called real ‘cheese’ since it is not made with real milk. Don’t believe me? Just check the ingredients next time you pass by a grocery store!).
A few other things to look out for are moldy starches (rice, pasta, bread), legumes (lentils, beans, chick peas), and nuts. The mold on these products produce a substance called aflatoxin, a poisonous cancer-causing toxin.