Oncologists across the world are worried about the impact of pandemic on cancer outcomes while in India, it is the second largest cause of death and as per World Health Organization’s Globocan 2020, nearly 8,00,000 deaths in our country are attributed to cancer. It is one of the biggest health challenges of the 21st century and reportedly by 2040 the cancer cases are expected to increase by 60%.
On the brighter side, studies have found that those with the highest levels of physical activity or active lifestyle, healthy eating and avoiding addictions are lesser prone to cancer. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Neha Ranglani, Integrative Nutritionist and Health Coach, shared, “Reversing cancer with food is as simple as eating foods grown on a plant and not made in a plant.”
Foods to avoid cancer:
According to Neha Ranglani, the more wholesome and least processed foods we consume, the faster we starve the cancer cells. She revealed, “Including organic and fiber rich alkaline foods like greens, fruits, roots and tubers, raw veggies, sprouts can feed the good bacteria in the gut and reduce the toxic load in the body that can easily help to reduce the spread of cancer. At the same time steering away from refined sugars, maida, refined oils and fats, ready to eat foods and dairy and meat can go a long way in helping you overcome cancer like a warrior.”
Echoing that our food choices are one of the lifestyle factors that influence the risk of developing cancer, Dr Hansaji Yogendra, Director of The Yoga Institute, said, “Dairy, sugar, and processed carbohydrates can cause type 2 diabetes and obesity and are linked with cancers. Foods that contain carcinogens such as pickle, processed meat, refined flour, genetically modified food, hydrogenated oil, microwave popcorn, potato chips and nitride containing food cause cancer whereas foods that have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants can prevent or support the treatment of cancer.”
He added, “These are natural foods like turmeric, spinach, broccoli, ginger, green tea, garlic, red cabbage, blueberries, pomegranate, oranges, mulberries, and fiber-rich foods and foods high in Vitamin A and C.”
Highlighting that cancer is caused by lack of foods which are responsible for cellular regeneration, Dr Mickey Mehta, Global leading holistic health guru/corporate life coach, explained, “Food that is pure, wholesome and alkaline in nature which in turn is soothing in nature. In the absence of such foods, whenever we consume anything that irritates us – which could be foods with colours, preservatives, have gone through processing, disintegrated, are not wholesome and could be acidic in nature – promotes cancer.”
He listed some of the foods that should be avoided to reduce the chances of developing cancer. These include:
1) Ultra processed foods – Popular items such as instant noodles & soups, boxed meals, ready-to-eat-meals, bakery foods such as biscuits, buns, rusk, etc. contain hydrogenated oils which throe off the balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in the body , causing general inflammation, in turn leading to cancer
2) Red meat, steak, lamb, etc have certain impounds that enhance the formation of carcinogenic compounds, thereby increasing risk factors of cancer
3) Apart from what you eat it is also important to consider “how you cook”. High heat cooking like grilling, deep frying, barbeque, etc. can cause carcinogenic chemicals to enter in our blood stream eg French fries, onion rings, fried fish and chicken, chips, burnt toast, burnt popcorn, etc.
4) Refined sugar causes spike in blood glucose and can increase the risk of several cancers. Foods such as candies, cotton candies, soda, fruit juices, popsicles, donuts, package cakes, pancake syrup, chocolate syrup, energy bars, breakfast cereals (cornflakes), ketchup, barbeque sauce, bottled salad dressing are best avoided to prevent cancer.
5) Pesticides and herbicides are used to increase the shelf life of many fruits and vegetables which eventually find their way into our systems. So organic foods, make a better choice in terms of gaining good health.
6) BPA – Bisphenol is a product used in the lining of some cans that has been found to increase the risk of metabolic disorders and some cancers eg. plastic water bottles or the packaged water, canned corn, tomato paste, canned fruits, canned beans, coconut milk and canned soups.
7) Alcohol and tobbaco – Alcohol abuse is a leading cause of cancer. Excessive consumption which disrupts the blood sugar levels in your body and is harmful to your cells eg beer, cocktails, vines, etc. Tobacco in the form of cigarettes, paan, gutka leads to oral cancer.
8) Dairy – High calcium intake leads to the development of prostate cancer. Food such as processed cheese, low fat dairy (sugar is added to account for low fat content), flavoured yogurts, ice creams, milkshakes, smoothies, milk chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, etc are also some of the food items increasing the risk of developing cancer.
9) Junk/fast foods – Cheese burgers, pasta, pizza, street side vada-pav, deep fried samosas, should not be consumed on regular basis as they are not good for our health.
Ultimately, while some of these foods would be best removed from your plate for good, others are fine as long as they are consumed in moderation. We must not be afraid of food but we must be aware of what we eat. These mindful eating habits help us in keeping various diseases at bay and give us a sound mind and a clear body.
Make smart and healthy choices. Try to restrict your intake of cancer-causing foods and opt for good food for cancer.