Add these 5 foods to your diet to help you fight cancer deliciously  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
New Delhi: It is no secret that a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of cancer in many ways. Research shows that many cancers are linked to lifestyle behaviours, including unhealthy eating patterns and a lack of physical activity. Perhaps, a healthy lifestyle can also help positively support treatment and recovery even if you are diagnosed with the disease.
So, on the occasion of World Cancer Day, celebrated each year on February 4 to raise awareness of cancer as well as to encourage its prevention, detection and treatment, Shweta Mahadik, dietitian, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan, tells us some of the best cancer-fighting foods that you can eat.
Foods to eat to prevent or beat cancer
- Foods rich in antioxidants: Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by free radicals known as ‘unstable molecules’. Some of the examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins C, E, and A, etc.
- Omega-3 rich foods: Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) present in nuts, oilseeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, fish like salmon, tuna, and herring, etc. They play an essential role in cell signalling and in the cell structure and fluidity of membranes. They participate in the resolution of inflammation and have anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects.
- Garlic: Some clinical studies found that regular consumption of garlic in our diet helps with DNA repair, slow the growth of cancer cells and decrease inflammation as garlic is rich in allicin i.e. soluble allyl sulphur compounds which is responsible for many cancer-fighting properties. Several functional foods showed anti-cancer activity via scavenging free radicals – such as garlic, broccoli, green tea, soybean, tomato, carrot, cabbage, onion, cauliflower, red beets, cranberries, cocoa, blackberry, blueberry, red grapes, prunes and citrus fruits.
- Bitter melon: Bitter melon is a widely consumed vegetable all over the world that comprises of several bioactive components such as polyphenols, flavonoids and saponins, and has been reported to possess anti-cancer potential.
- Wheat bran: Wheat bran is abundant in a variety of healthy phytochemicals such as phenolics, flavonoids, glucans and pigments and has been observed to evince noticeable anti-cancer activity.
Here are a few things to keep in mind
- Avoid raw and undercooked meat
- Avoid raw fish and shellfish
- Avoid raw and undercooked eggs
- Avoid unpasteurized dairy items (like milk, cheese, and eggnog), as well as unpasteurized honey, juice, and cider
- Avoid fresh and packaged foods that are past their “use by” and expiration dates
- Avoid leftovers older than 48hours. It is important to follow proper food storage and reheating guidelines if you plan to prepare food ahead of time or save leftovers
- Limit the intake of saturated fat and trans-fat foods such as bakery products, cakes, pastries, packaged foods, fried items, red meat, ghee, butter, dalda and margarine. Also restrict intake of egg yolk and shellfish which is high in cholesterol
- Limit the intake of oil to ½ kg per person per month. Prefer using blends of oil in weekly rotation as the content of PUFA, MUFA and SAFA varies in each oil
- Restrict intake of foods like pickle, papad, canned and preserved vegetables and fruits, dry fish, namkeen, readymade chutneys, tomato ketchup, ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook products
- Cut down on carbonated beverages and foods that contain added sugars (corn syrups, sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltrose, dextrose, concentrated fruit juice, honey)
- Avoid alcohol
Apart from diet, it is important that cancer patients maintain a healthy weight, increase physical activity, make healthy food choices, and stay happy in mind and body.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.