(Source : Times of India)
Cancer is the second deadliest disease in the world and accounted for 1 out of every 6 deaths in 2018. The common perception about this disease is that it is mostly caused by smoking tobacco and consumption of alcohol. However, there is a need to raise awareness that one of the top five causes of cancer is nutrition – more specifically, an unhealthy diet. The growing reliance on technology and lack of physical activity has pushed people towards sedentary lifestyles and made them ignore natural foods that contain immunity-boosting nutrients — some of which help fight conditions like cancer.
For instance, consuming the right diet can reduce a person’s risk of acquiring cancer, especially some of the complex ones such as that of the brain. The brain is an intricate and important, yet highly vulnerable organ in the human body. The spongy brain tissues control all our movements and cognitive abilities like speech, thought and emotions. The growth of a cancerous cell can impact the healthy brain tissues and cause a cancer/tumor over time. However, it is possible to prevent this risk by eating healthy food and a balanced diet right from an early age. Foods that are rich in antioxidants and other vital nutrients can boost the immune system and brain function as well.
The gastrointestinal tract is considered our second brain given that it has more than 500 million neurons. The gut is also teeming with about 300 to 600 species of different bacteria that perform a whole host of beneficial functions, including boosting the immune system, aiding in metabolism and digestion, and helping in neurotransmission and signaling in the brain. Any significant alterations in the type or number of these bacterial colonies may lead to inflammation in the body – a process that can contribute to many diseases, including cancer.
While there is no specific food item that can be called as the best in preventing cancer, a healthy diet does help control infections and associated complications. In fact, research suggests that some foods help in blocking cancerous blood vessels in the body through the process of anti-angiogenesis. A major boost to immunity against cancer is provided by green leafy vegetables, turmeric, ginger, basil, thyme, etc. All of these have strong cancer fighting abilities. They also provide the brain with antioxidants which limit cell damage by hunting down free radicals. Further, they bring down inflammation and prevent cancer.
According to an International Study by the National Cancer Institute, those who eat six servings of fruits and vegetables per 1,000 calories have a 29% decreased risk relative to those who have 1.5 servings. In the study, researchers found that those who consumed the most fruits and vegetables had the lowest risk for head and neck cancers. Vegetables appeared to offer more cancer prevention than fruits alone.
Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes and carrots, are known to be highly effective in reducing cancer risk. Similarly, citrus fruits contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that can avert the disease. Other foods one can consume include spices like cinnamon and turmeric beans, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and garlic. In people who already have the disease, a balanced diet can augment the treatment efforts.
what is conclusion
Given the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer in India, there is a need focus on harm reduction strategies. This is a public health strategy, which aims to mitigate the dangers or harms associated with an action or condition. An example would be switching to a healthy diet and opting for alternative ways of consuming or cooking food. The emphasis here is on reducing the negative outcomes of an unhealthy diet. The adage “you are what you eat” cannot therefore be truer. Eating healthy can not only ward off cancer but also other potentially debilitating conditions.
The article has been authored by Dr M Udaya Kumar Maiya, Medical Director, Portea Medical
(Source : Times of India)