Food and Preventative Health

Food and Preventative Health

Strong evidence suggests that eating a "Western-type" diet, characterized by a high intake of added sugars, meat, saturated fat, as well as fast food, and other processed foods, are risk factors for many chronic diseases, including cancer.

Modifying dietary patterns to incorporate daily consumption of plant-based foods containing anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals is a viable strategy for incorporating Nutrition in Cancer Prevention. A healthy eating habit can lower cancer risk by 10% to 20% overall. According to NCBI, Laboratory studies demonstrate that high quantities of many phytochemicals in a plant-based diet contributes to its chemo preventive impact. These phytochemicals disrupt various cellular mechanisms involved in cancer growth, as well as inflammatory activities that promote cancer development.

What are Phytochemicals?

Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds found in plant foods: vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. Phytochemicals include: carotenoids (beta carotene, lycopene, and lutein), isoflavones, flavonoids, indoles. Learn more about phytochemicals on our blog.

Potential Advantages of Phytochemicals:

  • Inflammation reduction
  • Preventing DNA damage and assisting in DNA repair
  • Cancer cell proliferation is slowed
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Hormone administration
  • Keeping damaged cells from proliferating

The Power of Healthy Eating

Cancer Prevention Recommendations:

Consume a Diet High in Beans, Whole Grains, Fruits, and Vegetables

Make pulses (legumes), such as beans and lentils, and whole grains a significant part of your regular diet. There is substantial evidence that eating whole grains lowers the risk of colorectal cancer and that consuming foods high in dietary fiber lowers the risk of obesity, weight gain, and other conditions that enhance the risk of many cancers.

Eat Less "Fast" Food

Fast food is “convenience food” with a high calorie content that is usually consumed in large quantities. Strong evidence exists that eating a "Western-type" diet, characterized by a high intake of added sugars, meat, and fat, as well as fast food and other processed foods high in unhealthy fats, starches, or sugars, are factors in weight gain, overweight, and obesity, which are risk factors for many cancers.

Limit your Consumption of Processed and Red Meat

Red meat is beef, pork, lamb, mutton, and goat. There is a clear link between eating red meat, and processed meat, and the increase the risk of a variety of cancers. The evidence for colorectal cancer is the strongest. Processed meats include products such as sausages, bacon, hot dogs, and deli meats. Any meat preserved by smoking, curing, salting, or added preservatives is considered processed meat. These methods of meat preservation have the potential to produce carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).

When cutting back on red meat and processed meat, consider these high-quality sources of protein:

  • Seafood and fish
  • Dairy products: cheese, milk, and yogurt. Or plant-based alternatives
  • Poultry: chicken and turkey
  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes like beans, peas, lentils, and soybeans

Limit Beverages with Added Sugar

Strong evidence suggests that routinely consuming sugar-sweetened beverages in large amounts can contribute to weight gain and obesity in adults and children. As previously mentioned, obesity raises the risk of cancer.

Suggestions to reduce sugar intake:

  1. Check the dietary facts on the label
  2. Reconsider your beverage, choose water regularly
  3. Prepare for cravings, keep healthy options on hand
  4. Reduce or exclude sugar from recipes
  5. Look over your condiments ie. jam, salad dressing
  6. Limit your use of processed and packaged food
  7. Sugar is sugar = honey, maple syrup
Did You Know?
The kind and quantity of phytochemicals present in plants varies. There is no single plant that can protect you from disease. Eating a wide range of plant foods will provide you with the best protection. The Canadian Cancer Society advises consuming a diet rich in vegetables and fruit. Choose whole foods vs. supplements, and aim for a colourful plate.
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