When it comes to fighting cancer, your diet is extremely important. Eating healthy helps prevent DNA damage by boosting your body’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory defenses. Nutrients, especially natural plant chemicals, can affect cell signaling, hormones, gene expression, and immune function, which control cancer cell growth, reproduction, and death.
Some of the best cancer-fighting foods include:
8 cancer-fighting diets
1. New American Plate (plant-based diet)
The New American Plate involves making healthy choices for the proportion of different items on your plate and the portions you eat. The goal is to have ? of your plate be made up of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, or legumes each meal, with animal protein making up the remaining ? of the plate.
This diet emphasizes foods rich in fiber, nutrients, and plant compounds that may help fight cancer as well as reduce weight, which is a risk factor for cancer. According to studies, the nutrients and chemicals in plant foods can alter the expression of tumor suppressors and other genes, as well as impact cell signaling pathways, inflammation, and the self-destruction of abnormal cells.
2. Mediterranean diet
The diet focuses on eating whole grains, vegetables, and fruits daily, as well as herbs, spices, and garlic. Most of the fats in the diet are obtained from olives, olive oil, and nuts. Fish, dairy, red meat, and sugar are consumed in moderation.
3. Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet
Reports from long-term population studies consistently link lacto-ovo vegetarian diets to a decreased risk of cancer compared to diets that include meat and fish more than once a week. A major study published in 2013 found that lacto-ovo vegetarian diets were connected to a decreased incidence of total gastrointestinal tract cancer, such as colorectal cancer, compared to nonvegetarian diets.
The lacto-ovo vegetarian diet is a plant-based diet that focuses on foods such as beans, lentils, soy, nuts, and seeds because they supply the body with protein and a diverse assortment of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial phytocompounds. The diet includes certain animal products, eggs, and dairy.
4. Vegan diet
A vegan diet focuses on consuming plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds and excludes meat and dairy products. The high fiber and nutrient content of vegetables, as well as the absence of processed meats, may help reduce cancer risk.
5. Pescatarian diet
Pescatarians eat various types of seafood in addition to a plant-based diet of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and whole grains. This dietary pattern is likely to contain greater quantities of omega-3 fatty acids (a form of fat found in fish) which is beneficial for your health.
Studies show that pescatarian diets are associated with a decreased overall risk of cancer compared to diets that include meat and fish more than once a week.
6. High-fiber diet
Fiber-rich diets contain plenty of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, such as dry beans, lentils, whole soy foods, nuts, and seeds.
Dietary fiber can protect you against cancer by helping waste pass through the digestive, diluting possible carcinogens and minimizing cells to their exposure.
Other types of fiber promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, resulting in substances (short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate) that appear to protect colon cells, reduce markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, and have effects on gene expression that may reduce cancer risk.
7. Low-glycemic load diet
Many studies have shown that low-glycemic load diets are likely to increase insulin sensitivity and lower inflammatory indicators, which can help fight cancer. A low-glycemic diet minimizes spikes in blood sugar levels after eating, which can inhibit cancer cell growth and reproduction.
A low-glycemic diet consists of high-fiber plant foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes, in quantities that are adequate for your needs. However, minimizing refined grains and highly processed or sugary meals is critical.
8. Dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet
The DASH diet was designed to help prevent and control high blood pressure and emphasizes whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and low-fat dairy products. The diet restricts red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and desserts.
Although data is currently limited, the DASH diet is associated with a decreased risk of cancer in two major prospective cohort studies. This diet contains more dietary fiber and calcium, which can protect against different types of cancers.
What are cancer-fighting habits?
In addition to eating healthy, other lifestyle habits can help you reduce your risk of getting cancer. These habits include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Engaging in regular physical exercise
- Avoiding tobacco use
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Underferth D. 36 foods that may help lower your cancer risk. MD Anderson Cancer Center. https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/36-foods-that-can-help-lower-your-cancer-risk.h12-1592991.html
Loma Linda University Health. Your Seasonal Guide to Cancer-Fighting Foods. https://lluh.org/patients-visitors/health-wellness/your-seasonal-guide-cancer-fighting-foods
HelpGuide. Cancer Prevention Diet. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/diets/cancer-prevention-diet.htm
Harvard T. H. Chan. Preventing Cancer. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/cancer/preventing-cancer/
Wisely R. The Best Diets for Cancer Patients and Cancer Survivors. Michigan Health. https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/best-diets-for-cancer-patients-and-cancer-survivors
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