By Nancy E. Hafer, MS, RD, LD
While you’re cleaning out your cabinets and closets this month, don’t forget your most important spring-cleaning — keeping your body clear of toxins that can cause serious diseases.
There’s no better time to do this than April, National Cancer Control Month. Here’s your chance to follow the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) guidelines, and make sure you’re living a lifestyle that helps keep you healthy. Learn the latest lifestyle-related links to cancer, and review AICR’s cancer prevention and diet and lifestyle checklist to see if you’re doing everything possible to prevent cancer from becoming part of your life.
Causes of Cancer
According to an international, comprehensive report on cancer prevention recently released by the AICR, cancer risk was linked to diet, physical activity, and weight in more than 7,000 studies. In other words, we now have even clearer evidence that if you want to prevent cancer, your diet is an excellent place to start.
But preventing cancer through diet is not about simply eating the right cancer “superfoods,” as some magazines will have you believe. Instead, it’s about making the right decisions every day; this includes eating the right combination of foods, including fruits and vegetables that have plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Tomatoes, watermelon, blueberries, grapes, kiwi, and eggplant are among those that are the richest in phytochemicals.
Your Spring Checkup
To make sure your diet and lifestyle are aligned with cancer prevention and long-term health, check your daily habits against this cancer-prevention checklist adapted from AICR guidelines:
1. Is your Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9? Calculate Your BMI now.
2. Do you pack your diet with nutrient-dense foods that are low in calories, fat, and sugar, but high in fiber and nutrients?
3. Do you eat less than 18 ounces of red meat a week?
4. Do you limit processed meats, such as ham and hot dogs, to only special occasions?