Prevention really is the best cure for any disease. This holds true for the dreaded “C” word as well. The number one best way to prevent cancer is simple: Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Why? Because up to one third of all cancers have a positive relationship with being overweight and obesity.
Narrowing cancer prevention down to this one goal sounds simple, but actually achieving a healthy weight can be more difficult. It is doable, if you commit to little changes at a time. Just try the following:
1. Cut out sugary beverages including juice, pop, energy drinks and sports drinks. These beverages can be loaded with calories and provide minimal, if any, satiety to help you maintain a healthy weight.
2. Fill at least one third of your plate or bowl at each meal with fruits and/or vegetables. This will decrease your portion size of higher calorie foods and optimize the cancer prevention nutrients you take in.
3. When choosing breads, pastas, crackers and other starches, go for whole grain versions. These foods will be high in fiber, as well as other nutrients with cancer fighting properties, and help you feel satisfied with smaller portions.
4. Strive to include more activity and less sitting into your daily routine. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day and limit sitting to no more than two hours without at least a five minute stretch or walk.
5. Pledge to drink at least 64-80 ounces of fluid per day, preferable as water or some other calorie free liquid. Some people misinterpret thirst cues as hunger pangs.
6. Limit or abstain from alcohol intake. While one drink for women and two drinks for men per day can be beneficial for heart disease prevention, alcohol can damage DNA and increase cancer risk. It also is another source of calories that can contribute to weight gain. One drink is equivalent to 12 ounce beer, 4-5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounce of hard liquor.
7. Commit to eating out less and using less processed foods. These are the foods that provide the most sodium in our diet and can increase our risk of stomach cancer. As an added bonus it can decrease your fat intake and help with maintaining or achieving your goal weight.
8. Substitute beans and other fiber rich legumes for meat a few times a week. They are rich in fiber and low in fat, but are still a good source of protein, which make them an excellent meat substitute to promote weight loss or maintenance.
So begin today, and continue climbing those stairs to reach the ultimate goal of a life-style focused on cancer prevention.
Learn more about nutrition and cancer prevention; and get weight loss tips
- Food for Thought: The Healthiest Weight
- Fresh Start: Changing Eating Habits
- Gluten and cancer: friend or foe?
- Nutrition and Cancer Prevention
Registered dietitians who are specially trained in the field of oncology nutrition provide cancer nutrition services at the Comprehensive Cancer Center. They focus on assessing the individual dietary and nutrition needs of each patient and providing practical, scientifically sound assistance.
The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.