9 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

Author: Kristin Rakoczy is the Marketing, Content, and PR Manager for Provision Healthcare, LLC.

You can't prevent cancer, but you can reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In fact, 20% of cancer diagnoses are linked to diet and inactivity, according to the American Cancer Society.

Nutrient-rich foods can provide long-term benefits to your body. A plant-based diet and regular exercise can improve how you feel and how your body functions.

The better your body functions, the fewer chances there are that you'll have abnormal cell divisions. These abnormal cells are what cause tumors and develop cancer.

Now that you know that a healthy diet and lifestyle can reduce your cancer risk, where do you start? You start right here with our nine tips to a cancer prevention diet!

  1. Start with Lean Proteins. Build each meal around a lean source of protein such as chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, or tofu. Try to limit processed meats such as, hotdogs, ham, and sausages. Most dieticians suggest 25-30 grams lean protein at each meal.

  2. Add Some Color to Your Plate. Fill half of your plate with colorful non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, eggplant, and onions. Non-starchy vegetables are rich in fiber and provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. They are necessary to help the body grow and develop; heal or repair itself; perform essential functions; and protect the body.

  3. Cut Back on Carbs. Limit starchy carbohydrates such as legumes, lentils, breads, grains, cereals, pasta, and fruit to a forth of your plate. All carbohydrates are converted to sugar in your body. The conversion of sugar causes a spike in blood sugar and an increase in the storage hormone insulin. Insulin prevents your body from burning fat, making weight loss very difficult.

  4. Choose Whole Grains. “Whole grains” are minimally processed fiber rich foods such as brown rice, oatmeal, corn, and whole-wheat bread. According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, “There are several ways fiber may lower risk, including diluting potential carcinogens and promoting healthful bacteria growth. Whole grains may also help with weight control; excess body fat increases the risk of 11 cancers.”

  5. Hydrate-Hydrate-Hydrate! Adequate fluid is important for a variety of reasons. Staying hydrated helps to transport nutrients through your body and keep you healthy. Aim for a minimum of 64 ounces of water daily. If you don’t like to drink water, try adding flavor such as fresh squeeze lemon or lime.

  6. Incorporate Healthy Fats. Healthy fats are nuts, seeds, nut butters, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), avocado, or omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in foods such as salmon, halibut, albacore tuna, sardines, herring, walnuts, and flaxseed oil.

  7. Avoid Added Sugar. If sugar or a form of sugar (sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose) is in the first 5 ingredients of a food item, put it back. Added sugar has little to none nutritional value. Too much sugar prevents your body from burning fat.

  8. Pass on Happy Hour. Limit your alcohol intake to 1 drink per day for women or 2 drinks per day for men. Not only can alcohol alter emotions or cause physical impairments when consumed, most alcoholic beverages are full of sugar- preventing weight loss. Also, research shows that alcoholic drinks may increase your risk of some cancers especially when paired with smoking.

  9. Move Your Body. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week or a combination of the two. No matter what your physical activity level, start small and begin by moving your body above your usual level of activity. Try taking the stairs versus the elevator or walk a lap around your office or house every hour. Many fitness instructors will advise clients to aim for 10,000 steps per day.

You don't need to make a major life change to start your cancer prevention journey. Start with one or two of the tips above. Work them gradually into your lifestyle.

And then, when you're ready, work some more tips into your daily routine. You'll not only reduce your cancer risk but also feel better physically and mentally.