10 simple dietary and lifestyle steps to decrease your risk of cancer
Research has shown that it is the environment of the body and resulting vitality, or lack of it, that can affect the multiplication of cells (cancer). Our state of health either promotes or fights against cancer growth. So it is important to remember to look not only at the disease itself but also in what environment it lives in. Creating balance in the body by following the simple tips below can lead to homeostasis and prevention of major disease, including cancer:
1. Eat a whole food diet – this means cooking from scratch and avoiding (as much as possible) packaged, processed goods, refined foods and ready-made meals.
2. Avoid simple sugars and refined carbohydrates – like white sugar, artificial sweeteners, white flours, and refined grains. Eat grains in their whole state (like oats, buckwheat, quinoa, brown and wild rice, millet, amaranth) which promote healthy blood glucose and insulin level, and hence do not promote inflammation.
3. Support your body’s natural detoxification system – improve your liver’s capacity by including more cruciferous vegetables in your diet (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, rocket etc) on a daily basis. This is particularly important for oestrogen-related cancers.
4. Avoid environmental toxins when possible. Most common culprits are pesticides, parabens, BPA, and heavy metals (e.g. mercury and arsenic). You can get tested for the levels of these toxins.
5. Avoid taking antibiotics when unnecessary - for example when you don’t know whether the cause of your illness is due to a bacteria or virus. Boost your immune system to avoid the need for antibiotics. Don’t forget to take a quality probiotic when taking antibiotics, to prevent imbalances in your gut flora.
6. Consume a diet rich in phytonutrients. This means consciously choosing vegetables and fruits of all colours, on a daily basis: yellow, orange, red, green, purple/blue/black, brown/white/beige. Each group has different phytonutrients hence different health benefits (rainbow diet!).
7. Work on managing your stress – acute stress is good and motivating, but chronic stress can be devastating on your body. Great stress-reducing activities are yoga, pilates, meditation, mindfulness, journaling, deep breathing, visualisation and walks in nature. Find what suits you the best and practice at least three times a week.
8. Increase your fibre intake: Anywhere between 35-45 grams of fibre per day, or else 7-10 portions of vegetables and fruit. Make sure you include a great variety and rotate between the veggies. Other high-fibre foods include beans, nuts, and seeds (like ground flax seeds) and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat. Fibre slows gastric emptying, hence digestion so prevents a spike in blood glucose and insulin, postprandially.
9. Have protein with every meal (and snack): Quality protein sources include wild-caught fish, organic lean poultry, beans, nuts, pasture-raised eggs, grass-fed clean meats, and whole or fermented soy foods. Include both animal and vegetarian types of protein (if not a vegetarian or vegan). Protein helps prevent blood-sugar spikes, decreasing food cravings and maintaining insulin sensitivity.
10. Exercise 3-5 times per week, for at least 25min. The minimum should be 150 min per week. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity and helps maintain a healthy percentage of body fat, both very important for cancer prevention.
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About Olianna Gourli
Olianna Gourli is a qualified naturopath and nutritional therapist, with a background in science and research (BSc Hons., PhD.c., mBANT, rCNHC). She has great expertise in gastrointestinal issues, such as IBS, hormonal imbalances and women's health, stress and chronic fatigue. She sees clients in her clinics in London, Athens and through Skype.