These days, it seems like everyone knows someone who has battled cancer.
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It’s scary – and understandably so. With stories of struggles with cancer seemingly everywhere, the question on everyone’s minds is:
“What can be done?”
We can feel powerless in the face of cancer. It can feel like something beyond our control, coming down to our genetics, gender, environment, or age. It can feel like cancer looms in the shadows, unpredictable and unavoidable.
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But this is not true. Cancer can be avoided, and it can be fought. And it can be defeated.
According to the WHO, about a third of cancer deaths are due to the risk factors of an unhealthy lifestyle. These include a high BMI, an imbalanced diet, a sedentary lifestyle, tobacco use, and alcohol abuse.
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Instead of focusing on the things you can’t change, change the things you can. You have the power to control these risk factors. And in the war against cancer, every little bit counts. Your best strategy to win the war is a healthy lifestyle - and your best weapon is delicious, nutritious food.
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No single food is a miracle cure or shield against cancer. But these 5 foods, taken in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, have been proven to work against cancer in numerous valuable ways.
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Grains are a staple of the Asian diet – and whole grains are a staple in cancer prevention. Packed with tummy-filling fiber, whole grains are valuable in weight management, which directly tackles one of the risk factors of cancer (a high BMI). The fiber in whole grains is also needed for digestive health and reducing the risk of cancers of the digestive tract. Lastly, whole grains are full of special phytonutrients (plant nutrients) which are thought to play a role in cancer prevention.
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Vibrant, beautiful berries are perfect for Pinterest, and even better for your body. Their bright colours come from anthocyanins – colour pigments that function as antioxidants. These antioxidants, when consumed, prevent cell damage that can lead to cancer. Berries have also been found to affect the genes in some cells, enabling them to reduce inflammation and restrict the growth of cancer cells.
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Don’t be put off by the long name – ‘cruciferous’ just refers to a family of vegetables whose leaves grow in layers. Examples include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, kalian, and bok choy. Vegetables from this family have been shown to be protective against lung, prostate and colorectal cancers. The colour pigments that give these vegetables their white and dark green colours also protect against cancer by limiting the growth and multiplication of cancer cells, as well reducing inflammation in the body.
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(Naturally) Orange Foods
If you’re seeing a colour theme starting to develop, you’re on to something! Natural colours in foods are a good indication of their nutrition – and the yellow-orange-red group of foods is no different. Think carrots, oranges, cantaloupe, tomatoes, capsicum..the list goes on. The pigment responsible for the colours in these foods is called carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A and plays an important role in developing a strong immune function. They are also packed with phytonutrients which function as antioxidants, again protecting the body against cell damage which can lead to cancer.
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Salmon, tuna, cod, sardines, and so on are full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to play a role in heart health, brain development, and treating inflammatory conditions like arthritis, infection, and yes, cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids function as potent antioxidants, and help to maintain precious muscle mass, which in turn improves cancer outcomes. They have been shown to be especially effective against liver, colon, and breast cancers.
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And there you have the answer to the question “What can be done?” It may not be a 100% guarantee – but it is certainly worth the chance to reduce your risk of cancer (or improve outcomes when treating cancer). Better yet, you get to enjoy some naturally delicious food along the way.
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So pick up your fork and spoon and get ready for the fight against cancer! Happy Grazing!