Despite advancement in treatment, numerous people succumb to cancer every year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) almost 30 percent of all cases of cancer are preventable. Studies suggest that nutritional intervention plays an important role in lowering the risk of developing cancer.Healthy diet combined with regular physical activities can diminish the risk of major non-communicable diseases including cancer. Healthy diet is also recommended for preventing unintended weight gain. High levels of body fats are linked to cancers of the endometrium, breast, esophagus, colon and kidneys. Researchers have also identified the role of certain dietary ingredients to cancers. Diet-associated cancers are widely attributed to excess consumption of preserved meat, saturated fats and alcohol abuse.
A series of recent studies have highlighted the benefits of consuming fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains in lowering the risk of cancer. Certain phytochemicals present in the plant kingdom are especially considered beneficial in preventing abnormal growth of cells.
Healthy Diets for Cancer Prevention
Eat Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients that protect the body from viruses, bacteria and other environmental agents that make the human body vulnerable to illnesses. As different types of phytochemicals possess diverse properties, consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables daily provide maximum protection from cancer. While all types of plant products are good for health, some are especially recommended for lowering cancer risk.
Eat Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale contain sulfur-based phytochemicals capable of destroying chemicals associated with development of cancer cells. Through different mechanisms, these phytochemicals activate enzymes that detoxify carcinogenic substances from the body. These compounds also contain antioxidant properties that help to negate the scavenging activities of highly reactive oxygen-free radicals. Cruciferous vegetables may prevent growth of cancers of the endometrium, breast cervix, colon, lung and liver.
Eat Garlic and Onions
Allicin is a sulfur-bases phytochemical found in the bulb-shaped vegetables of the Allium family such as garlic, onion, scallions, chives and leeks. Chopping and crushing these vegetables covert allicin into bioactive compounds that can protect the human body from certain types of cancers. Several studies have found an association between consuming large amounts of garlic, onion or chives and lower risk of developing cancers of the colon, stomach, breast, pancreas and esophagus.
Scientists speculate that by inhibiting formation and activation of cancer causing chemicals, lowering proliferation of malignant cells, stimulating death of cancer cells and promoting repair of damaged DNA the bioactive compounds in the allicin rich vegetables help to lower cancer risk. According to the World Health Organization, adults should consume at least a clove of fresh garlic daily.
Loading your daily meals with tomato can protect you from prostate, stomach, cervix, esophagus, pancreas, mouth, breast and lung cancers. Tomato contains lycopene an antioxidant compound, which researches suggest can prevent cellular damage. The lycopene level is especially high in cooked tomato products such as tomato paste and sauce.
Tealeaves are the richest dietary source of powerful antioxidant compounds called catechins. Most of the health benefits of drinking tea are attributed to these polyphenols. While green tea is particularly rich in catechin, black tea contains large amounts of complex polyphenols called theaflavins and thearubigins.
All these compounds prevent damage to the genetic materials in the cell. Laboratory studies have documented the positive effect of tea polyphenols in preventing proliferation of cancer cells. These compounds can even induce cell death or apoptosis. Tea polyphenols can lower the risk of developing cancers of the liver, colon, stomach, small intestine, skin, mouth, lung, breast and pancreas.
Drink Red Wine
Drinking red wine in moderation can protect you from certain cancers. Red wine is particularly rich in polyphenols called resveratrol and catechins. Consuming foods rich in antioxidant polyphenols is believed to obstruct the activities of free radicals, thereby preventing cellular damage. In addition to its antioxidant function, resveratrol in red wine strengthens the immune system of the body.
This polyphenol produced by the plant to protect itself from invading microorganisms, injury, stress and ultraviolet radiations can inhibit growth of cancer tumors. It stimulates production of an anti-inflammatory protein called kappa B, which can prevent growth and proliferation of cancer cells. Besides red wine, large amounts of resveratrol is found in grapes, peanuts and raspberries. Studies suggest that drinking red wine in moderation can reduce the risk of developing prostate, breast, blood and skin cancers.
Consume Calcium Rich Foods
Milk, dairy products and dark green vegetables are the richest sources of calcium. Moderate amount of calcium is found in legumes, nuts and certain grains. Studies suggest that adding sufficient amount of calcium rich foods to the daily diet can protect you from colorectal cancer. Calcium protects the colon from the corrosive activities of fatty acids and bile acids by binding with these acids to form insoluble compounds commonly known as calcium soaps. Calcium may also play a role in inhibiting proliferation and inducing death of the cancer cells.
Antioxidants can inhibit inception, development and progression of cancers. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant nutrient that may reduce the risk of developing cancers of the esophagus, stomach, mouth, rectum, cervix, pancreas, lung and breast. Citrus fruits, green peppers, papaya, strawberries and broccoli are common dietary sources of vitamin C in the diet.
The antioxidant effect of vitamin E can decrease the risk of colorectal and prostate cancers. About 15 mg of the vitamin is needed daily. It is found in vegetable oil, seeds, nuts and whole grains.
By stimulating the activities of the white blood cells, beta-carotene may lower the risk of developing cancers. White blood cells protect the body from the free radicals. Yellow and orange colored fruits and vegetables are particularly rich in beta-carotene.
Meat cooked at high-temperature on open flame produces carcinogenic compounds. Avoiding grilled or pan fried muscle pork, beef, poultry and fish helps to lower cancer risk. Cancer risks are also associated with increased consumption of preserved meat. Some studies suggest that excess consumption of artificial sweeteners may increase risk of developing certain cancers.