What you eat can promote your health.
Eating healthy can lead to a longer, healthier life. And did you know that eating healthy can actually decrease your risk for developing some diseases, including heart disease and cancer?
Several studies have found that bad eating habits and excess body weight increase the risk of developing many types of cancer.
Help reduce your cancer risk with these simple tips to eat right.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber and antioxidants. Newer guidelines say to eat at least two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables every day. A 2017 study found that while eating five portions a day is good, eating 10 servings a day is far better and can increase your protection from cancer, stroke, and heart attacks.
To reduce overall sugar consumption, concentrate on more vegetables than fruit in your diet.
Try to “Eat the Rainbow.” This is a new way of looking at how you eat your fruits and vegetables. By including all the colors of the rainbow in your fruits and vegetables, you can easily reach and surpass your daily guidelines.
- Red: raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, tomatoes, red peppers
- Orange/yellow: oranges, mangos, peaches, carrots, sweet potatoes
- Green: broccoli, spinach, lettuce, zucchini, kiwis
- Blue/Purple: blueberries, grapes, blackberries, eggplant, purple cabbage
- White: bananas, cauliflower, garlic, onions
What’s a serving size: One whole fruit, such as an apple, pear, or peach equals one serving of whole fruit. A single serving of vegetables is about one cup. While it’s important to monitor the sugar level in some fruits, a good practice is to look at your plate and fill it half full with vegetables before adding any proteins.
- Eat whole grains and legumes.
These foods are good sources of dietary fiber and plant protein. You might choose to include:
- Black beans
- Pinto beans
- Brown rice
- Limit your consumption of meat.
Processed meats, such as bacon or hot dogs, have been linked to an increased cancer risk as well as elevated cholesterol levels and a higher risk of heart disease. So has eating large amounts of red meat.
Limit your intake to three or four small servings a week and try to eat one meatless meal each week. Because meats also are typically high in saturated fats, focus on lean meats, such as flank steak, whenever they are part of your diet.
An ideal small serving of meat is around 3-4 ounces, or about the size of a closed fist.
- Eat fish and poultry.
A small portion of fish is a great way to add a healthy protein to your diet. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin D. Examples of fish with these nutrients are salmon, lake trout, sardines, albacore tuna, mackerel, and herring.
Lean poultry, such as chicken or turkey, also are viewed as healthier than red meat.
- Drink plenty of water every day.
Drinking at least eight cups of water a day can help flush out potential toxins in your body. An easy way to remember to drink water is to keep a water bottle filled and close by you throughout the day.
- Limit high-fat dairy products.
While it’s important to get calcium in your diet, try to focus on non-fat or low-fat milk instead of whole milk, which is high in saturated fat.
Consider adding, in moderation, yogurt and hard cheese—not necessarily processed cheeses.
- Try soy products.
Soybeans, a plant-based protein, are a good alternative to meat proteins and have been linked to healthier cholesterol levels. Whole soy products are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and edamame are all good examples of whole soy foods to add to your diet.
Health experts recommend sticking with whole soy foods and not processed soy products, which may contain estrogen-like chemicals that are not beneficial to your overall health.
Monitor your diet during cancer treatment.
While you may not feel like eating at times during treatment for cancer, a healthy diet is very important. The American Cancer Society says that eating well while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy can help you:
- Maintain strength and energy
- Maintain weight and your body’s store of nutrients
- Better tolerate treatment-related side effects
- Lower your risk of infection
- Heal and recover faster