To bring about a holistic well being it is imperative to ensure that each and every organ of our body is fit and healthy all the time. Health problems may or may not be avoidable. But since we are the ones who are in total control of our body, it is up to us to make sure about that.
We should be educated enough to choose the correct lifestyle that works to prevent health problems. Amongst all the diseases in this world cancer is the most dreaded disease even today.Despite the presence of a large number of scientific data people are still ignorant about the preventive measures that can be taken to minimize the risk of developing cancer.
Research has proved that almost 80 percent of all cancers occur due to factors that are known to us, and therefore they stand to be potentially avoidable. Tobacco contributes to at least 30 percent of all cancers and 35 to 50 percent of cancers occur due to the food that we eat.
Very briefly let’s understand what cancer is. Cancer is a class of diseases that occur due to the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in the body. Groups of these abnormal cells form tumors that attack and destroy the adjacent healthy tissue and sometimes spread to other parts of the body.
Carcinogens are the substances responsible for the growth of cancerous cells. Their presence can be found in food, in the air or even within the body. Carcinogens are mostly neutralized before any damage can be caused. However sometimes they are able to invade the cells genetic material (DNA) and cause changes in it.
While it takes a long time for a tumor to develop, there are certain compounds called inhibitors that can prevent the cells from growing. Some vitamins found in fruits and vegetables are said to be inhibitors. On the contrary dietary fats work to enhance the rapid growth of abnormal cells in the body.
That is why what we eat and don’t eat has a very vital role to play in deciding the future of our health. Unknowingly we could be eating those foods that increase the risk of cancer and at the same time avoiding some very important foods and nutrients that can actually protect us.
Therefore, making informed changes in our dietary habits and behaviors not only reduces the risk of cancer but can also stop it from spreading. Read on to find out how.
Plant Based Foods
Plant based foods should always be at the top of our diet chart because they are the cancer fighting powerhouses. When we talk about plant based foods we mean the inclusion of various vegetables, fruits and whole grains in our diet.
Apart from “high in fiber and low in fat” quality of vegetables, they also contain several nutrients that can combat cancer from the word go. Carotenoids and beta-carotene are pigments that give colors to fruits and vegetables, helps to fight lung cancer and also cancers of the mouth, larynx, bladder, esophagus and many others.
Five major compounds which are found in fruits and vegetables, act as neutralizing agent that work to prevent carcinogens from reaching certain crucial places within the cell. These compounds include phenols, indoles, flavones, cumines and isothiocyanates.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips, brussel sprouts etc. have cancer fighting elements in them. These vegetables contain biochemical’s that provides protection against cancer and they are:
Sulforaphane strengthens the immune system and also stands like a wall against enzymes that draw carcinogens into healthy cells. Compounds that stops the formation of cancer causing nitrosamines in the intestines.
Indoles that work to lower the chances of breast cancer. The nutrition value of vegetables are lost once they are overcooked; so remember the less processed they are, the better. Concentrate more on having “whole” foods i.e. foods in their natural forms.
Increase Fiber Intake
Plant based foods are also rich in fiber which helps to keep our digestive track clean and healthy. Fiber is not easily digestible and thus it helps food to pass through the intestine which results in the carcinogens getting eliminated from the body. Fiber pulls water into the digestive tract which gives volume to the fecal matter and thus the carcinogens get easily dissolved.
Fats are digested when bile acids are secreted in the intestine. Bacteria present in the intestines can sometimes alter these bile acids into chemicals called fecapentanes that increase the possibility of colon cancer. However, fiber helps to absorb the bile acids and then ensures that they are expelled from the intestine.
Higher the level of estrogen in the body, higher is the risk of breast cancer. Just like bile acids, estrogen is secreted into the intestines; fiber absorbs these hormones and evicts them from the body. Thus in the absence of sufficient amount of fiber, the estrogen can be drawn from the intestine into the blood stream.
At least twenty five grams of fiber a day is recommended to stay away from cancer. Foods that are rich in fiber and have anti cancer elements are wheat bran, kidney beans, whole wheat, whole grains, legumes, whole grain bread and prunes. The rawer the food is the higher is the fiber content.
Cut Down On Fats
Extensive research has proved that highest levels of fat consumption lead to an increase in death rates due to colon and breast cancer. Consumption of fat is by itself a matter of concern, but there is enough data to prove that animal fats are much more harmful than vegetable fat.
It leads to a growth in the production of hormones and bile acids in the body which gives birth to breast cancer and colon cancer respectively. Therefore stop using saturated fats and Trans – fats altogether because they increase the risk of cancer.
Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products like red meat, whole milk dairy products and eggs. Trans – fats also called hydrogenated fats are made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils which are then used as a preservative by manufacturers. Both of them act as fertile grounds that enable cancer to grow.
Unsaturated fats are best for the body and are mainly found in vegetables. The main sources of unsaturated fats are olive oil, canola oil, nuts and avocados. It’s always wise to read the labels before purchasing any food item which could be a part of your lunch or dinner that day.
Focus on selecting mainly cancer fighting foods because they strengthen our immune system and a strong immune system is necessary to withstand any unwanted invaders in our body. Antioxidants are an important source of vitamins that work to ward off cancer and enable the cells in our body to function properly.
Substances called phytochemicles are found mainly in colorful fruits and vegetables that have the potential to fight diseases and strengthen the immune system. We can add flavor to our food by adding spices like ginger, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, basil and coriander.
These spices contain allium compounds that increase the activity of immune cells that fight cancer by disintegrating cancer causing elements. Alcohol when taken excessively increases the risk of cancer in several parts of the body like mouth, pharynx, esophagus, breast, liver and stomach.
The above mentioned facts about food are no doubt important but at the same time we must also take care about the methods used to prepare the food. For example overheating cooking oil can turn them carcinogenic. So instead of deep frying or pan frying make use of healthier methods for cooking like boiling, baking, steaming or broiling.
So it’s now for you to decide which side of the table you choose to be. A little bit common sense will tell you that spending money on prevention will be much more profitable than spending money on treatment because cancer is a highly preventable disease. The three salient features for preventing cancer are
Reduce the exposure to carcinogens. Strengthen the immune system, Chalk out a diet that works to reduce the formation and growth of potentially malignant cells. Incorporate these features into your lifestyle as soon as possible so that you remain cancer free all along.