Cancer can seem like something so nasty, so terrible, so devastating that we don’t have any control over it. It’s an overwhelming experience that affects individuals and families, destroys lives, and wreaks havoc on our health care system as well. It might seem like there is nothing you can do to stop but, but that’s where the cancer prevention message can be inspiring.
See, you can stand up to cancer. Up to 70% of your risk of cancer can be determined by factors that you control. While things like genetics are out of your hands, everything from diet, weight management, smoking, physical activity, and others, all are directly within your power to change, adjust, and use to prevent cancer.
This time of year, New Year’s Resolutions often include efforts to improve health and wellness, focusing on eating well and exercising more often. As you work to stick to your new regimen, take a second to think about how you can take these resolutions a step further, just by keeping foods that are proven to reduce cancer well-stocked in your fridge or pantry. Eating these foods may not decrease your risk factor to zero, but they will certainly help reduce that risk, as well as help you live a healthier life every single day.
Up Your Fiber. Fiber helps keep everything moving, as we all know, but that goes all the way down to the cellular level. Fiber-rich foods include many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like oats that are easy to work into any meal or snack. Fiber can greatly reduce the amount of time cancer-causing chemicals or compounds linger in your digestive system, greatly reducing their impact on your health.
Eat Less Meat. There are so many benefits to reducing or even eliminating your meat intake that the effort is almost a no-brainer. In addition to the incredible environmental benefits, eating less meat can reduce your risk of cancer by up to 20%. Much of this risk may actually be down to the preservatives found in processed meats, but unless you’re using meat that’s straight from a local butcher, that’s the reality of meat consumption. Instead, look to source your protein from locally-sourced eggs, dairy, fish, and soy.
Add fruit and veggies to every meal. Try to have something fresh at every single meal of the day. In order to meet the suggested serving of fruits and vegetables, add fruit that’s as close to its natural state as a side or a snack. Peeling your own orange, as opposed to orange juice from a bottle or box, helps eliminate added sugar to an already sweet treat! Look to add more fruits and veggies to salads, as sides in the form of roasted or steamed veggies, or replace sugary, baked desserts for fresh fruit instead.
Reduce Sugar. We’re genetically programmed to crave fats and sugars, but we get far more than we ever need with our modern diets. Limiting your sweets and sugar intake can not only help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, and other diseases, but also balance out your energy levels by stopping the insulin spike your body typically experiences after consuming large amounts of sugars. Skip those cookies, cakes, sodas, and candy, and keep an eye on the seemingly healthy foods you eat, too. Some juices, cereals, even pre-packaged oatmeal can have just as many grams of sugar as a soft drink or candy bar!
This year, you don’t have to be perfect. All you can do, and all anyone can expect you to do, is try to make smart decisions as often as possible. To learn more about the mission of cancer prevention, from diet to chemical risks and beyond, head to LessCancer.org.
New Year’s Resolution: Eat Well For Cancer Prevention was originally published in Less Cancer Journal on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.