Cancer. It’s a frightening word with even more frightening connotations. Because it is so common, every family in the United States it seems has been touched by this disease. The American Cancer Society reports that one third of all cancer deaths were related to being overweight or obese, physically inactive, and poor nutrition. Changes to diet and lifestyle can greatly influence whether or not you contract various cancers. Recent increases in esophageal, pancreatic, liver, and kidney cancers may be linked to obesity and that, in turn, can be linked to physical inactivity and/or poor nutrition. However, there are changes you can make to your daily diet and lifestyle to help reduce your risk.
- Eliminate processed sugars and artificial sweeteners. Insulin, the hormone that regulates how blood sugar is used by our bodies for fuel, is related to many chronic diseases. When blood sugar is kept elevated for an extended period of time, it affects how our cells function and how they communicate with one another. When communication between cells is compromised, the cells behave in odd and irregular ways. This provides a basis for chronic diseases, including cancer.
- Drink water. The human body is about 60% water and needs water to perform efficiently. It is suggested that you drink half of your weight in ounces each day. To make it easier, try drinking 16 ounces before breakfast, 16 ounces afterwards, 16 ounces before lunch, etc. A squeeze of lemon in your morning water will give your liver a gentle cleansing as well.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise reduces insulin levels which in turn reduces the risk of certain cancers. Adding exercise to your routine by simply parking further away from the entrance to work, the mall, or grocery store, taking the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, spending part of your lunch break walking the halls or outside when the weather is nice, and taking a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. It all adds up.
- Add broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and other cruciferous vegetables to your diet. Cruciferous vegetables contain phytochemicals which have been proven to slow the growth of tumors in the lung, colon, liver, cervix, and breasts. The phytochemicals in these vegetables rouse enzymes in the body which detoxify and eliminate carcinogens before they get a chance to damage cells. These vegetables also reduce oxidative stress, reducing free radicals in the body which, in turn, may reduce the risk of colon, lung, prostate, breast, and other cancers.
- Adding dark, leafy greens to your diet such as kale, collard greens, watercress, and mustard greens will also add calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A, C, E, and K. These dark greens are packed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.