Each New Year, many of us pledge to overhaul our lives by implementing new exercise regimes, dietary plans, and fitness goals. And we are all guilty of sometimes adhering to those lofty plans for exactly two seconds. Often, New Year’s resolutions represent ideals rather than practicalities. We must give ourselves some grace in marrying what we hope to achieve in a utopian world with what is most realistic in our everyday lives. This post is dedicated to providing simple and easily attainable ways to modify your diet so that you meet those resolution goals and keep your tummy satisfied. Also, attend our upcoming nutrition workshops to gain more information and practical tips to improve your diet.
In recent years, there has been increased interest in the role that diet and nutrition play in preventing cancer, maintaining health throughout treatment, and promoting a healthy survivorship. While there is no magical Amazonian fruit that can be blended into your smoothie bowl and eradicate cancer, there are several dietary and lifestyle choices that we can make that are correlated to lowering the risk of cancer as well as mitigating treatment-related side effects. We do know that cancer is caused by a constellation of factors, including genetics, environment, and an unlucky draw of the cards. While many of these circumstances are out of our control, a recent study found that up to 30 – 35% of cancer diagnoses are linked to diet. Below are five digestible (no pun intended) tips that you can integrate in your diet that are suggested to aid in cancer prevention and maximize health throughout treatment.
The value of water consumption cannot be underestimated. An average human is composed of 60% water and all body functions require water to operate. As water is our primary fueling source, one could easily understand why water is important, especially during cancer treatment. What with treatments often provoking side effects such as lack of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea, patients need water as a replenishing source. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume 91 ounces and men consume 125 ounces of water each day (about 25% of which comes from the food you ingest).
2. Healthy Carbs
Carbs are not the enemy, even though many diets swear against them. This is good news, as grains are often central to many diets. However, we do need to be careful with the types of carbohydrates that we are selecting to include in our diet. Many of the carbs in our grocery aisles are refined grains, meaning that they are robbed of several nutrients in the refining process. When choosing carbs, look for whole grain products as they retain vital macronutrients, minerals, and vitamins. Some examples include brown rice, whole wheat bread, and oats. Look for products that say “100% whole wheat" or check ingredient labels as many products are marketed as “whole grain” but still contain refined flour.
2. Fruits and Veggies
A diet high in fruits and vegetables has been linked to several positive outcomes, including cancer prevention. Plant based foods contain phytonutrients or phytochemicals such as carotenoids, resveratrol, quercetin, indole-3-carbinol, sulforaphane, and silymarin. These phytochemicals have several benefits, and they are best derived by consuming them from the source (i.e. eating fruits and vegetables as opposed to simply taking supplements or pills). Further, fruits and vegetables provide an excellent source of fiber, which can help with constipation.
And a few words of caution:
Our body needs protein for growth and building and repairing tissues. That said, we must choose our proteins wisely. High consumption of red and processed meat has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, especially gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers. If you can, limit red meat and choose alternative protein sources such as nuts, beans, fish, soy, and poultry.
2. Limit Sugar
Remember the word of advice in our second suggestion to limit refined carbs? That suggestion was born of the fact that refined foods often have a high glycemic index, meaning that they quickly turn into sugar in the blood. Cells, both good and bad, are fueled by glucose. Excessive sugar consumption can lead to several health risks, and may be connected to cancer risk.
Below are a few food blogs that provide excellent recipes that utilize many of the above tips. Hopefully this information gives an extra boost to your confidence in maintaining your health-oriented resolutions and leads you into the kitchen! Share any photos or links of healthy recipes that you create in the comments below.
Oh She Glows: http://ohsheglows.com/
Pinch of Yum: https://pinchofyum.com/
100 Days of Real Food: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/
Sprouted Kitchen: https://www.sproutedkitchen.com/
The Year in Food: http://theyearinfood.com/
American Cancer Society. (2015, July 15). Benefits of good nutrition during cancer treatment. Retrieved January 04, 2018, from https://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorship-during-and-after-treatment/staying-active/nutrition/nutrition-during-treatment/benefits.html
Anand, P., Kunnumakara, A. B., Sundaram, C., Harikumar, K. B., Tharakan, S. T., Lai, O. S., Aggarwal, B. B. (2008, September 25). Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes. Retrieved January 04, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515569/
How to Eat When You Have Cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved January 04, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/cancer/cancer-diet#2
Magee, E. (n.d.). The Anticancer Diet. Retrieved January 04, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/the-anticancer-diet#1
Publishing, H. H. (2016, September 16). Cancer and diet: What's the connection? Retrieved January 04, 2018, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/cancer/cancer-and-diet-whats-the-connection