I’m the girl who loves potato salad in her gumbo. I like a little bit with every bite, until the whole bowl is wiped clean. It makes me happy just thinking about how good it tastes! A dietician would tell me that food should not create feelings, but living in Acadiana, food is the center of so much of what we do. The first cold snap, we start the roux. Mardi Gras means King Cakes of all kinds! Then, Lent arrives and crawfish boils bring friends from all over.
Lately though, I’ve been surrounded by research on the connection between cancer and nutrition. In fact, we just wrapped up our first cooking classes at Miles Perret Cancer Services. There is a lot of research about what we eat and how it impacts our chances of getting cancer. Honestly, it can be overwhelming. I’m the one here at Miles Perret running to our Wellness Director asking, “So, can I eat yogurt or can’t I?”
Recent scientific studies have suggested that dairy products may be linked to increased risk for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and possibly for ovarian and breast cancers. So, it is a good idea to start thinking about getting some of your calcium from dark leafy vegetables like broccoli, and other foods like almonds and soymilk. At the same time, don’t be like me and freak out when you hear this. The Wellness staff at Miles Perret Cancer Services doesn’t want you to worry every time you eat a yogurt or drink a glass of milk. There is a balance in all things.
So, how can you use the information out there to make good choices without stressing out? Miles Perret Cancer Services has compiled research from Harvard Health Publications, American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society to help you.
Here are seven tips to help you head in the right direction and begin to understand the connection between your diet and cancer.
1) Maintain a healthy weight
Excess body weight accounts for at least 20% of all cancer-related deaths each year.
2) Avoid processed meat and limit red meat to no more than 18 ounces per week
Harvard University studies show that people who eat beef, pork or lamb daily have approximately 3 times the colon cancer risk, compared to people who generally eat a plant based diet.
3) Fuel up on low-fat foods
Cutting down on fat is the most important step in preventing cancer as we age. Fatty foods boost the hormones estrogen and testosterone which promote cancer growth.
4) Choose high fiber foods daily
Fiber rich foods, such as nuts, whole grains, vegetables and fruit, help reduce excess estrogen and testosterone in the blood, a key to reducing your risk for breast and prostate cancer.
5) Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all
Researchers found that drinking one to two drinks per day increases the risk of developing breast cancer by 10%. Drinking three or more drinks a day increases the risk by 30%.
6) Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
Many compounds in plant foods boost your body’s immune system and repair and prevent cell damage. Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily is likely to be your best defense against cancer.
7) Get your Vitamin D.
The latest research shows that having low levels of vitamin D increases your risk for many types of cancer. The best way to increase Vitamin D levels is through sunlight or supplements.
Only 5-10% of all cancers are associated with a family history. That means lifestyle choices do count and good nutrition is a part of that! You can protect yourself from cancer by boosting your immune system through a healthy diet, exercising daily, maintaining a healthy weight and never smoking. If you have questions or comments about wellness and cancer e-mail Julie Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org.