We are what we eat. These words unquestionably define the current health mechanism.
With the available data, it is estimated that in 2020, almost 110,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in South Africa, with more than 56,000 cancer-related deaths, representing a quarter of premature noncommunicable disease–related mortality.
Keeping all this in mind, here are a few dietary changes that can help prevent the risk of cancer.
1. Eat lighter and leaner with fewer calories
In order to prevent the risk of getting cancer, one must limit the intake of carbs and stop eating refined sugars and sweetened foods. Though Sugar is not a carcinogen, consuming excess sugar, particularly the added sugars in processed and packaged foods and drinks can contribute to obesity which is an important risk factor for cancer. The excess calories we get from carbs can also feed the cancer cells and can lead to other complications.
2. Limit red meats and processed meats
There are evidences that red meat increases the risk of colon cancer. Consuming too much of processed meat and red meat can increase the chance of bowel cancer by 20%. WHO also recognises processed meat as the number one carcinogen. Cooking meat on a very high heat also can produce many cancer-causing chemicals. Animal foods are considered Acidogenic food, which when taken with low vegetables and high salt can lead to a sub-clinical or low-grade state of metabolic acidosis which can further lead to the causation of cancers.
3. Eat a variety of wholesome foods
A diet that is rich in wholesome grains, nuts, vegetables, lentils, beans, and fruits is highly recommended to counter the chances of developing cancer in our body. Studies have shown that people who eat a Mediterranean diet have a lesser incidence of developing cancer. This diet primarily includes plant-based foods, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, and legumes. They prefer fish instead of meat as well.
4. Avoid Alcohol
Drinking alcohol has shown to increase the risk of several types of cancers including the digestive system, colon, liver, and breast cancers. There is ample evidence that alcohol is certainly a preventable risk factor for the development of many different types of cancers.
5. Load yourself with natural antioxidants
Rainbow eating helps us to get enough antioxidants from our diet. Oxidative damage happening in our body can initiate some cancers. The pigment that gives a particular colour to fruits and vegetables has anti-cancerous properties. When you eat multi-colored fruits and vegetables, you get diverse anti-oxidants from the food. At least eat 3-4 different types of fruits and veggies.
6. Add fibre in your diet
The role of fibre in your food is indispensable. While the insoluble fibre helps to add roughage to the food, the soluble fibre helps to feed the friendly bacteria in our colon producing the short-chain fatty acids and thereby reducing the risk of developing colon cancers. Also consume foods such as chia seeds, flax seeds and non-starchy flours.