You can reduce your chances of developing cancer and several chronic diseases by making healthy food choices. A diet rich in plant foods, whole grains and legumes can give your body the range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it needs to stay healthy.
Plus, eating a variety of healthy foods can help prevent weight gain and decrease body fat. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer.
You can take the following steps to maintain a healthy diet, manage your weight and reduce your risk of cancer:
- Eat a plant-based diet. Eating a healthy diet can help you stay lean. Fill 2/3 of your plate with vegetables, whole grains and fruit. Fill the remaining 1/3 or less with lean animal protein like fish and chicken.
- Limit red meat. Red meat contains substances that have been linked to colorectal cancer. Pork, beef, lamb, deer and buffalo are all red meat. Aim to eat no more than 18 ounces of cooked red meat per week.
- Choose whole grains over refined grains. Whole grains are high in fiber, which can help you stay lean and lower your cancer risk.
- Avoid processed meat. Hotdogs, sausage, lunch meats and other processed meats contain cancer-causing substances, and eating these meats can damage your DNA, raising your colon cancer risks.
- Choose plant-based proteins. You can make healthy swaps that will add more plants to your diet without reducing your protein intake.
- Avoid alcohol. Research shows that drinking even a small amount of alcohol increases your chances of developing oral, breast and liver cancers. The National Cancer Institute recommends that women have no more than one drink per day and men have no more than two drinks per day.
No food or food group can prevent cancer, and eliminating specific foods won’t eliminate your risk. But basing your diet on plants and following some basic guidelines can help you reduce your risk for cancer and several other chronic diseases.