The connection between nutrition and cancer, according to experts, is as mysterious as cancer itself. While certain foods contribute to an increased cancer risk, having an anti-cancer diet meal plan, on the other hand, protects you against it. Here’s what you need to know about cancer and nutrition.
What is an anti-cancer diet meal plan?
By definition, an anti-cancer diet meal plan is a nutritional strategy to reduce the risk of cancer. As with other dietary approaches, an anti-cancer diet is flexible because you can create your own meal plan by following some guidelines.
Generally, a diet to reduce cancer risk focuses on a healthy, balanced diet that includes various foods from whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and meat.
How does an anti-cancer diet meal plan reduce cancer risk?
Before we discuss the guidelines, let’s first emphasize how a balanced diet lowers your risk of cancer.
It promotes healthy weight
The first reason why a healthy, balanced diet is essential to reduce cancer risk is that it promotes a healthy weight.
Various medical reports indicate that excess body fat is attributed to cancer cases and deaths. In other words, being overweight or obese increases the overall risk of cancer.
The exact relationship between unhealthy weight and increased cancer risk remains unclear. According to experts, it’s probably because excess body fat can affect functions related to cancer development, such as inflammatory response and cell life cycle.
It contains cancer-fighting agents
An anti-cancer diet meal plan reduces cancer risk because it includes foods that help fight the disease.
An excellent example of cancer-fighting agents is antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals, molecules that harm our cells. Please note that some types of cell damage can contribute to cancer development, so stopping free radicals on their tracks may reduce cancer risk.
Another possible anti-cancer agent is flavonoids, a compound naturally found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. One of the best cancer-fighting abilities of flavonoids is they help suppress the growth of cancer cells.
Generally, an anti-cancer diet meal plan provides you with essential nutrients and compounds that lower your cancer risk.
It reduces your exposure to harmful chemicals
An anti-cancer diet meal plan also lowers cancer risk because it reduces your exposure to harmful chemicals.
For instance, numerous studies about red meat and cancer show consistent results: excessive red meat intake is associated with increased colon cancer risk.
Scientists explain that certain red meat compounds can break down into harmful chemicals once they are in the gut. These toxic chemicals then damage the GI tract, which can lead to colon cancer.
An anti-cancer diet meal plan encourages you to reduce the intake of red meat and other foods that produce harmful agents, which can result in cancer.
Moreover, a healthy, balanced diet also includes foods that promote bowel movement. A good bowel movement reduces our GI tract’s exposure to carcinogens.
What are the guidelines for an anti-cancer diet?
To take full advantage of the anti-cancer diet meal plan, here are some important guidelines:
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and flavonoids, which are helpful in the fight against cancer.
Ensure that your anti-cancer diet meal plan includes 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits per day. To put the portion size into perspective, remember that for adults, 1 serving is about a handful.
If you want the exact measurement, 1 serving of veggies is about 1 cup of salad or ½ cup of cooked vegetables.
For fruits, 1 serving is about 1 cup of mixed fruit salad or 2 pieces of small-sized fruits.
Add more fiber
Having more fiber in the diet helps improve bowel movement, which, as discussed, reduces our GI tract’s exposure to possible carcinogens.
The Cancer Council in Australia recommends 4 servings of bread and cereals per day, but they emphasize that at least half of those servings should come from whole grains or whole meal. 1 serving is usually 1 to 2 slices of bread or ½ cup of cooked rice, pasta, or noodles.
Finally, please note that fruits and vegetables are also good sources of fiber.
Although studies prove that red meat and other processed meats can increase cancer risk, doctors still recognize that they are good sources of essential nutrients like iron, vitamins, and protein. The key is to make sure that you are consuming no more than 3 to 4 servings per week. On the other days, have 3 to 4 servings of fish or chicken.
1 serving size is equivalent to:
- 65 grams of cooked lean meat
- 2 large eggs
- 80 grams of cooked lean chicken
- 100 grams of fish
Remember that these are general guidelines. Your doctor can change them to suit your individual needs. They may also give you recommendations for other food sources such as fats and dairy and caution you on your salt, caffeine, or alcohol intake.
As of now, the relationship between diet and cancer is still unclear. What most studies reveal is that some foods can either lower our cancer risk or increase it. Generally, an anti-cancer diet meal plan is similar to a healthy, balanced diet, which consists of plenty of fruits of vegetables, whole grains, and little meat.
Learn more about Cancer here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.