Can what you eat really help defend against getting cancer? According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and eating healthy can help reduce your risk of getting cancer.
It's all about living a healthy lifestyle in general. Just as with other major diseases, your lifestyle and health play a pivotal role in the likelihood of getting certain ailments. Some things inhibit the ability of a healthy diet like the addition of cancer-causing habits like smoking. If you need help quitting smoking, here are some initial tips.
A healthy lifestyle isn't just about the foods that you eat, but how your diet works with the other parts of your life like exercise and habits to produce optimal results.
A healthy weight, or a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9, keeps excess fat off of your body, especially around the abdomen. Yu-Han Huang, a Franciscan Health registered dietician in Indianapolis explains that “extra adipose fats act like a hormone in your body, changing your metabolic status. The resulting low-grade inflammation can increase free-radical oxidation throughout your body."
Exercising and eating well go hand in hand when trying to maintain that healthy weight mentioned above. It is recommended to achieve 30 minutes of exercise five times per week. If you don't have time for 30 consecutive minutes, try breaking this time up throughout the day into 10 or 15 minute segments.
This physical activity will help maintain metabolism and reduce excess fat, thus reducing the risk of inflammation. Another result is the regulation of insulin levels, helping to keep blood sugar stable.
Fruits and vegetables have abundant antioxidants and phytochemicals which help fight off infections, pathogens and improve our digestive health. A healthy diet includes five or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day, half of the grains from whole grain and limit consumption of sugar and red meats especially those that are processed and high in fat. Limit sugary foods and beverages as well as processed packaged foods. While it's not the sugar that causes cancer, it is the excess sugar that is stored as fat and increases weight that increases the risk of cancer.
A well-balanced diet, along with regular exercise and lifestyle changes are steps to lowering your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
By Brad Cullison
Franciscan Health Marketing Intern