Besides staying active and keeping lean, eating well can go a long way in boosting your health and keeping the big C at bay. Try these cancer-fighting diet tips. By Dawn Chen
Keep cancer at bay with these tips. (Photo: Anna Omelchenko / www.123rf.com)
1. Eat fresh.
Not only are fruits and veggies rich in fibre that keep you feeling full for longer, they’re also high in antioxidants that fend off inflammation – a precursor of various cancers. In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, experts highlighted that carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables could offer more anti-cancer benefits than other produce.
“Consumption of yellow-orange (carrots, sweet potatoes or pumpkin and winter squash) as well as dark green (broccoli, green beans, peas, spinach, turnip greens, collards and lettuce) vegetables with a high alpha-carotene content was more strongly associated with a decreased risk of lung cancer than was the consumption of all other types of vegetables,” wrote the authors. While more research is needed to confirm the link, WHO experts still recommend eating more fresh produce for their many potential health benefits.
2. Don’t overheat food.
“When food is subjected to high heat like barbecuing, deep-frying, roasting or grilling, potentially carcinogenic substances form from the proteins and carbohydrates,” says Dr Wong Seng Weng, oncologist and author of Cancer Cancel: Live Right & Eat Well. Instead, cook your food at a maximum temperature of 100 deg C by boiling or steaming, so that less of those cancer- causing substances are formed.
3. Load up on marinades.
If you can’t give up grilled steaks, be sure to include antioxidant-rich herbs like rosemary and thyme in the marinade, say researchers from Kansas State University in the US. Carcinogenic compounds known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) form in meats that are cooked at high temperatures. “Cooking meats with natural antioxidants decreases or eliminates HCAs on meat,” says study author Scott Smith. Tastier and healthier steaks? Win-win!
4. Get enough vitamin D.
Boost your diet with vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, cheese, eggs and fortified cereal. A European study involving more than 520,000 participants found that those with high levels of vitamin D had a nearly 40 per cent decrease in colon cancer risk compared to those with low levels of the nutrient.
Research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism also showed that cancer patients with higher levels of vitamin D had better chances of survival and stayed in remission longer too.
5. Cool your drinks.
Love drinking your morning brew piping hot? Better rethink that, says Dr Wong. Learn a lesson from the Iranians in the province of Golestan, who have a culture of drinking hot tea (above 70 deg C) daily – and the world’s highest incidence of oesophageal cancer.
When you gulp anything that’s too hot, the lining of your oesophagus gets injured by the heat. When this happens frequently – say, at every breakfast – the chronic injury may eventually lead to oesophageal cancer, explains Dr Wong.
6. Skip the booze.
It’s nice to get buzzed once in a while, but think twice about refilling your glass. According to a recent WHO release, “Alcohol consumption can not only lead to dependence but also increases people’s risk of developing more than 200 diseases including liver cirrhosis and some cancers.” So far, studies show that drinking raises oesophageal, throat, liver, breast and colon cancer risks – possibly because our bodies break down alcohol into toxic substances that may be carcinogenic, say experts from the National Cancer Institute in the US.