The Link Between Cancer and Diet: Lower Your Risk With Cancer-Fighting Foods


Cancer can affect anybody.

Whether you have been recently diagnosed with cancer, or have been fighting the disease, lifestyle changes such as diet can improve your condition and well-being exponentially.

“What you eat—and don’t eat—has a powerful effect on your health, including your risk of cancer. Without knowing it, you may be eating many foods that fuel cancer, while neglecting the powerful foods and nutrients that can protect you.”

For example, a daily serving of processed meat increases your risk of colorectal cancer, whereas eating soy foods such as tofu or edamame can help reduce your risk of breast cancer and eating more fruits and vegetables can lower your risk for a variety of common cancers.

So, here are some basic tips on diet choices that can help!

While there isn’t a singular food that can reduce your risk of cancer, plant-based foods assist in boosting immunity, keep your nutrient intake consistent, and are rich in anti-oxidant such as beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and selenium.

Eating a large variety of plants increases your overall protection. Some specifics are:

  1. High levels of fruit reduce the risk of of stomach and lung cancer.
  2. Carrots, brussel sprouts, and squash are high in carotenoids and help reduce the risk of lung, mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancers.
  3. Tomatoes, guavas, and watermelons can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer due to their high levels of lycopene.

Remember to check out the fresh produce section of the grocery store next time you go!

Fiber is essential. But, what is fiber?

Fiber is also referred to as roughage or bulk. It is the part of plants that your body cannot digest.

It is important because it keeps you regular by helping food moving along your digestive tract. While it does this is also forcing cancer-causing compounds out of your body as well. The more fiber you eat, the less chance cancer-causing compounds can get lodged in your digestive tract and wreak havoc.

Meat, dairy, and processed ‘white’ foods do not contain fiber, you need to go natural and unprocessed. Whole grain foods such as whole wheat pasta, raisin bran, barley and oatmeal; legumes like peanuts, lentils, and black beans; fruits and vegetables.

First off, meat lacks fiber and other nutrients that have been shown to have cancer-protective properties. Making it a rather useless preventative food right off the bat.

Furthermore, industrially-raised meat in the U.S. often contains antibiotics and hormones and the animals may have been raised on feed containing GMOs, drastically increasing the risk of cancer among our entire population.

Nutrition experts tend to agree that processed meats such bacon, sausages, hotdogs, pepperoni, and salami contain the highest cancer risk, likely due to the nitrate preservatives or other substances used in the processing of the meat.

In regards to fats, trans fats are known to be horribly cancer causing. Trans fats are when food manufacturers add hydrogen to liquid vegetable oil to solidify them and less likely to spoil. This entire process is great for them, but bad for our health.

Stick to unsaturated fats, which you get from olive oil, nuts, and avocados. The nuttiest in unsaturated fats such as omega-3 fight inflammation and support brain and heart health.

Stay Koko Fit!

Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub

About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer

Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.

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