October is breast cancer awareness month. The topic of nutrition goes hand in hand when discussing ways to prevent and fight cancer. It is amazing the power whole foods have to improve diet and wellness. According to the National Cancer Institute approximately 12% of women in the United States will development breast cancer within their lifetime. There are so many factors that influence your risk of developing cancer from family history and genetics to environmental factors, that are outside of your control. Your diet is one of the few things that you do have control over. Following the five tips below will put you on the right track for a healthy cancer-fighting diet.
Whole foods. Focus on eating as unprocessed as possible. Whole foods in general provide higher quality nutrition than processed foods. Plus, the nutrients will be in a form that your body recognizes. Look at the ingredient list, the shorter the list the better!
Focus on fruits and vegetables. It is recommended that individuals looking to prevent cancer or are fighting cancer eat more than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. In particular aim to eat one or more servings of cruciferous vegetables each day (think broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage).
High fiber. Studies have shown that increased fiber intake has positive benefits in altering the hormone action of breast cancer. Fiber is also great for your digestive tract and preventing colon cancer. Aim for 25-35 grams per day to maximize the benefits. Eating more fruits and vegetables throughout the day puts you well on your way to achieving this fiber goal.
Quality fats. Focus on quality and be mindful of quantity. It is recommended to follow a lower fat diet for cancer prevention. Ideally less than 30% of your total calories eaten daily should come from fat. Focus on eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which research shows may impede growth of breast tumors. In particular, try to eat fatty fish like wild caught salmon at least three times/week. Limit your intake of saturated fats and trans fatty acids, which can put you at higher risk for developing heart disease.
Focus on phytochemicals. Isoflavones are phytoestrogens that are beneficial in preventing and managing certain types of cancer. Enjoy eating legumes and ground flaxseed on a daily basis as rich sources of isoflavones. Other powerful antioxidants including carotenoids and flavonoids found in yellow and orange colored fruits and vegetables are great additions to your diet too.
Be proactive in taking care of yourself and your health. Use the ShopWell app to find trade ups for less processed foods and quality fat sources as part of your new diet. Focusing on a whole foods diet that is full of antioxidant-rich foods, especially fruits and vegetables, high in fiber, and quality fats will put your best foot forward in preventing or fighting cancer.