Here's the dilemma. Yes, you do need to lose weight if you are overweight or obese in order to reduce your risk of certain cancers. But the caveat is that not all weight reduction diets contain adequate amounts of nutrients that will help you to fight off diseases like cancer. So what elements should you look for in a cancer-fighting diet?
It should require long term change and commitment. That often means gradually adding in healthier options and reducing consumption of less healthy food items, which can take most people a bit of time to manage.
It should encourage consumption of foods that fight heart disease and cancer including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other plant-based foods at every meal. It should include healthy fats like olive and canola oil with far less frequent consumption of butter and margarine. It should include the use of dried and fresh herbs and spices to flavor food and far less sodium. It should limit consumption of red meat and alcohol. It should encourage the consumption of fish at least twice a week and skinless poultry and meat free days too. What I have basically just described are elements of a Mediterranean-style diet.
Another diet that also can help to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer is the "whole-body" approach. The idea is to eat small frequent meals (5-7 depending on your body size and weight goals) with fruits, vegetables and whole grains making up 50% of your daily foods. It emphasizes lean proteins. It restricts dietary fat and emphasizes mono and polyunsaturated fat. Daily exercise is also emphasized in this dietary approach.
Another popular diet is the gluten-free diet. Experts caution that gluten-free diets are NOT a panacea and that unless you have celiac disease, you should not choose this diet. Whole grains are rich in fiber and nutrients and unless you have a good reason to not eat them, they should have significant presence in your diet. Carbohydrate free is also not a good choice because fruits, vegetables and whole grains are your body's primary source of energy, however, you should choose unprocessed grains and produce as your primary "best choices."
Your list of superstar foods should include:
- Healthy fats
- Proteins that include occasional very lean red meat, skinless white meat, beans and legumes and high protein grains like quinoa
- Whole grains
- Fat free or 1% fat dairy products