The Anti-Cancer Diet - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on April 04, 2013

The Anti-Cancer Diet

The health-conscious superhero dedicated to spreading the word of a balanced and healthy diet strikes again. As it turns out, a healthy diet not only boosts your immune system, but it can also help fight against cancer. Not too shabby!

And the key to this super powerful diet? A mix of plant-based foods, plenty of fiber, good fats (yes these exist!), and less meats.

A study conducted back in 2004 revealed that if everyone followed a mixed diet consisting of fresh vegetables and fruits (which are naturally filled with fiber), legumes, and Omega-3 fats, rates of breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers would decrease by 60-70 percent.

Another study recently conducted in China unveiled a strong connection between consumption of fruit, eggs, and tea and a lower risk of developing lung cancer. And it’s not just the food alone that can help prevent it—limiting exposure to fumes created from high-temperature cooking oils and quitting smoking were also linked to low cancer rates as well.

Aside from the foods from the lung cancer study above, you should also include a good mix of the following to keep your immune system operating at peak performance:

  1. Plant-based foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and legumes. Eat plenty of these raw or steamed, and enjoy them alone as a snack or add them to your favorite dishes. If you’re not sure how much you should have of each, it’s safe to create a plate of food that is 2/3 whole grains, veggies, legumes, or fruit, and 1/3 dairy, meat, and fish. Add fruit to a multigrain breakfast cereal, enjoy apples with honey or peanut butter, and fill your main meals with plenty of veggies.
  2. Fiber is a key nutrient that’s often overlooked, but don’t think for a minute that it’s not as important as all of the others! Fiber is vital to maintaining a healthy and clean digestive system, since it keeps food moving through your intestines. In doing so, it also moves along anything else that might cause cancer. Fiber can be found in your plant-based foods above, but not in meat, dairy, sugar, and processed bleached foods like white bread, white rice, and pastries. To boost your fiber intake, make small swaps by having brown rice instead of white, whole grain or whole wheat bread, popcorn (instead of chips), and whole wheat pasta.
  3. Cutting down on meat is important since they’re higher in unhealthy saturated fats than cancer-fighting nutrients. Choose lean and organic meats, like fish, chicken or turkey and avoid processed meats like hot dogs, sausages, and salami.
  4. Healthy fats do exist, and your body needs them to help protect against cancer, as well many other things. The trick is to choose wisely and eat only in moderation. Always remember: saturated and trans fats are bad; Unsaturated fats are good. The good fat can be found in olive and canola oil, nuts, avocados, and foods high in omega-3’s, such as fish and flaxseeds.

It also matters how you prepare your food. Overcooking those organic veggies will actually strip the nutrients away. Stick to steaming vegetables in a small amount of water until they’re tender. And try to keep the skin on your fruits and veggies that are healthy to eat, like apples and potatoes!

Finally, avoid overcooking your meats or ordering them well-done. Whether it’s cooked on the grill or in the broiler, charred meat increases your chances of consuming carcinogens, which you know from the anti-smoking campaigns, are not good for you!

And of course, continue practicing other safeguards against cancer, such as wearing plenty of sunscreen when out in the sun and getting annual screenings as necessary.

For more information about Crozer-Keystone Health System Cancer Services, visit http://ckcancer.crozerkeystone.org. You can also call 1-866-695-HOPE (4673) to request an appointment with a physician who cares for cancer patients.

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