Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk

Maintaining a healthy diet and weight can have a significant, positive impact on overall wellness. It can also help you reduce your risk for cancer.

No one food or food group can act as a preventive shield, but you can take charge of your good health by incorporating a balanced, nutritious diet into your lifestyle – and, in turn, help yourself lessen the chances you’ll get cancer.

Here are some guidelines:

Focus on Fruits and Vegetables

Plant-based foods are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that play a role in maintaining a healthy weight, preventing illness, and fighting certain types of cancer. Guidelines recommend aiming to consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

These guidelines can be easily achieved, if you try to make at least half of your plate at each meal consist of fruits and vegetables. Consider healthy salads, fruits and vegetables that are in season to make unique recipes, as well as dried fruits and fresh fruit juices as options.

Choose Whole Grains

Whole grain foods include dietary fiber, iron, and vitamins that are needed in a healthy diet. Look for “whole grain” labels when shopping for breads, pastas, rice, breakfast cereals, and other foods to increase your intake of these rich, cancer-protective nutrients.

Try to stay away from refined grains, such as white bread, in which the whole grains have been stripped out to achieve a smooth texture and longer shelf-life.

Minimize Servings of Red Meat

Many types of red meat are processed (such as bacon and cold cuts) and contain high levels of fat. Try to minimize your red meat consumption and incorporate more fish and poultry in your diet.

Order a chicken sandwich instead of a hamburger, for example. Or try grilling salmon instead of steak. Many recipes that call for ground beef can be substituted with ground turkey or chicken without altering the outcome.

Limit Alcohol Intake

Studies have shown that heavy alcohol consumption raises the risk for cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. If you find you have difficulty limiting alcohol intake, consider the resources of Baptist Behavioral Health & Counseling Services.

Downsize Portions

We’ve become used to large food portions, creating meals where we consume more than we need for our daily nutrition. Consider cutting back portion sizes to maintain a healthy weight and manage overall health.

There are tricks you can use to help reduce portions, such as asking servers at restaurants to bring half the meal to the table – and box the other half to take home for leftovers. Another trick is to use smaller plates, so normal-size servings appear large.

Baptist Cancer Center is dedicated to making overall wellness a priority for all of our patients. We have additional resources, including: