A guest post by David Haas
It is now estimated that one out of every three people will face cancer at some point in their lives. Because of these shocking statistics, many people are realizing that it’s time to do something to reduce their risk. There are many factors that can contribute to cancer, but the easiest risk factor to modify is diet.
The average American diet is loaded with refined carbohydrates and overly processed foods, which numerous studies have linked to an increased likelihood of cancers such colon cancer, breast cancer, brain tumors and reproductive cancers.
Switching to a more plant-based diet has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer as well as benefit a person going through treatments for cancers like mesothelioma. Cancer.org recommends eating a balanced diet with an emphasis on plant sources. Here’s why:
Fruits, vegetables and grains provide many nutrients that aren’t abundantly found in animal products. Nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C, zinc, selenium, potassium and phosphorus are essential for healthy immune function, proper cell repair and normal hormone production.
High fiber intakes have been linked to a reduced colon cancer risk, lower cholesterol, and an overall healthy weight. Refined or processed foods — such as canned fruits, pulp-free juices, white breads and pastas are low in fiber. The grain-refining process used in white, or “enriched” breads and pastas removes the outer coat (bran) from the grain, which lowers its fiber content. Similarly, removing the skin from fruits and vegetables decreases their fiber content. Your best fiber choices include whole-grain products (breads, cereals, pastas, etc.), fruits and vegetables with skin intact, beans, peas and other legumes, nuts and seeds.
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide the best possible defensive strategy against cancer. These foods are loaded with antioxidants that help prevent cellular mutations and reduce oxidative stress from free radicals. One of these is indole-3-carbinol, a substance found in brassica vegetables (cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts) that has been shown to reduce the risk of breast and reproductive cancers in men and women.
Another example of a powerful antioxidant is anthocyanin, the dark pigment found in blue, red or purple fruits and veggies. Anthocyanin has been shown to reduce the risk of esophageal and colon cancer in animal studies by 30 to 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively.
David Haas is a cancer support group and awareness program advocate with Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. As Director of Awareness Programs, he works to spread the benefits of holistic health for cancer patients.