It is estimated that 30% to 40% of tumors in men and up to 60% in women are directly related to diet. Specifically, and according to the European Code Against Cancer, cancer risk can be reduced by up to 18% by caring for our diet and maintaining adequate body weight. Therefore, in addition to the importance of following an active lifestyle, exercising frequently, not smoking and avoiding alcohol consumption, etc., diet plays an essential role in preventing and reducing the risk of cancer. Eating quality food is not only a key to prevention, but it also helps cancer patients have better quality of life and feel better throughout the cancer process.
Some healthy eating guidelines
Eating healthy can improve patient prognosis and quality of life. To that end, there are different dietary recommendations that we should all follow:
- Prioritize the use of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) for both cooking and as a dressing.
- Avoid ultra-processed foods like cold cuts, snacks, sauces and pre-made dishes, which usually contain large quantities of salt and artificial preservatives.
- Enhance the flavor of foods using spices, like garlic, onion, parsley, bay leaf or thyme, etc.
- Includes 1 to 3 servings of dairy per day. For example, have a glass of milk, which would be one serving, a yogurt, which is half of a serving and a small wedge of cheese, which could be the third serving of the day.
- Limit your red meat intake and avoid processed meats like sausage or bacon.
- Arrange your dishes as follows: half of your plate should be made up of fruit and vegetables, a quarter of whole grains or legumes, and the remaining quarter should be healthy protein (fish, poultry, eggs).
- Especially important for cancer prevention is not drinking alcohol or smoking, and avoiding industrial pastries and sugary foods.
The Mediterranean diet is one of the best diets for preventing disease because it is based mainly on the abundant consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes and grains (bread, pasta and rice, preferably whole grains). Adhering to a long-term Mediterranean diet is associated with the prevention of chronic diseases, such as cancer. In fact, several studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet could reduce breast cancer risk by up to 30%, and colorectal cancer by up to 50%.
It’s important to check with your doctor before making any dramatic changes to your diet. Your nutrition is a key factor to good health.