Cancer is one of the leading causes of premature death in the United States and the world at large. The good news is that it is not only treatable but also preventable. Proper nutrition and getting rid of excess weight are two of the most effective ways of keeping this killer disease from striking.
Nutrition vs. Cancer
One of the most studies areas in medicine is the effect of nutrition and diet on cancer prevention and recurrence. The role of nutrition in diabetes or heart disease is relatively clear, but it isn’t so clear when it comes to cancer. Research is currently ongoing regarding the effect of various nutrients on cancer growth and development.
Nutrition for Cancer Prevention
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 30 to 50 percent of cancer cases can be prevented through the avoidance of risk factors and the implementation of currently existing evidence-based prevention strategies. Here are some of those strategies according to a cancer nutritionist in Long Beach:
1. Eating More Plant Foods
Plant foods include fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils). These foods provide minerals, vitamins, as well as other plant compounds that help protect against cancer. The foods also provide fiber, which helps protect against colorectal cancer.
In their natural form, most plant foods contain a lower number of calories than most other foods. It thus means that eating more plant foods to meet your nutrient needs is a great way to satisfy your hunger and maintain a healthy weight.
2. Limit Your Intake of Foods High in Added Fat, Salt, and Sugar
Foods that have a high amount of added sugar and fat supply a high number of calories that the vast majority of people frankly don’t need. If you regularly consume such foods, you will be more likely to gain weight and become obese or overweight, which can increase your risk of cancer.
3. Eat Less Red Meat
The consumption of too much red meat (i.e. goat, pork, lamb, and beef) increases your risk of colorectal cancer. Still, eating small amounts of red meat can still be part of a healthy diet. Meat is still a rich source of protein, vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. If you must consume red meat, limit your intake to no more than 18 ounces (500g) a week.
4. Avoid Processed Meats
The main problem with processed meats is that they increase the risk of stomach and colorectal cancers. Processed meats include sausage, bacon, ham, bologna, pepperoni, hot dogs, salami, and many deli types of meat. If you must consume processed meat, eat it less often and in smaller amounts.
5. Limit Your Intake of Alcohol
Alcohol increases your risk of developing breast, mouth liver, colorectal, throat, and esophagus cancers. If you must take alcohol, be sure to limit your intake to just one drink a day if you are a woman or two drinks a day if you are a man.
Nutrition during Cancer Treatment
Today, there are so many cancer treatments currently available, which include radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, hormone therapy, and even immunotherapy. However, with additional treatment options comes the potential for more side effects.
Cancer treatment can cause side effects, which include loss of appetite, fatigue, dry mouth, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, chewing and swallowing problems, as well as changes in smell and taste, among others. While these side effects can make it more challenging to eat correctly, there are ways to manage them.
Proper nutrition will play a critical role after being diagnosed with cancer. It can help you prepare for and manage your cancer treatment and recovery from the disease. Still, cancer and its treatment can cause numerous eating problems. The key nutrients to focus on during cancer treatment include the following:
– Protein: It is needed to support muscle strengthening and maintenance for repairing tissues, recovery from illness, and even resisting infection.
– Carbohydrates: It is crucial to choose the right type (i.e. complex carbs and whole grains) as opposed to empty carbs since they provide sustainable energy and are nutrient-dense.
– Fats: Monounsaturated (healthy) fats are preferable to polyunsaturated (unhealthy) fats since they promote cholesterol management and heart health.
– Vitamins and Minerals: If you are experiencing reduced appetite after undergoing cancer treatments, your vitamin and mineral needs may increase, which is why you need to use multivitamins or mineral supplements to provide essential nutrients in the body.
– Water: It is particularly essential if you are experiencing diarrhea or vomiting. It would help if you increased your fluid intake to replenish cellular health and maintain homeostasis. The fluid doesn’t have to be limited to water and may include milk, broth, soup, etc.
Is it possible to prevent cancer with nutrition? Probably. One fact that’s not up for debate is that nutrition can mean the difference between not getting, conquering, or even having cancer spiral out of control. Fortunately, proper nutrition can go a long way towards reducing your cancer risk. Incorporating the nutrition ideas discussed here can lower your odds of developing cancer by as much as 60 percent.