First and foremost, eating habits are a factor in at least 35% of cancer incidents, if not more. To understand how diet affects cancer let’s first look at antioxidants and free-radicals.
Think back to your high school chemistry class. Remember that electrons are the negatively charged part of an atom that orbit around the atom’s nucleus. Electrons, need to be paired up. When an atom or molecule has an unpaired electron the resulting molecule is called a free-radical. Free-radicals are highly reactive in the body and, thus, can be the beginning of cancer. Free-radicals are formed during regular body processes and can be a result of environmental factors such as smoke, car exhaust, radiation, and herbicides. The body usually combats free-radicals, but it requires many vitamins and minerals to be successful. Antioxidants, the molecules that directly fight free-radicals, can be found in vitamins and minerals. Some of the best sources of these necessary vitamins and minerals include whole grains, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, chili peppers, peaches, apricots, citrus fruits, strawberries, pineapple, beans, peas, peanuts, flax seed and fish oil.
Research indicates that although antioxidative supplements have been touted for health purposes, they have not shown that they reduce cancer incidents. The bottom line is the best source for getting antioxidants into the body is through good, wholesome foods, not through pills. Professionals agree that no amount of supplementing can compensate for the effects of a high-fat, fruit and vegetable deficient diet. In fact, people who get their “five-a-day” (five servings of fruits and vegetables per day) have a 40% less chance of developing some types of cancer.
Another major part of diet that affects cancer is fat intake. Instituting a low-fat diet, approximately 20% of your total caloric intake, will help reduce the risk for cancer. This is a good idea not only for reducing the risk of cancer, but also for reducing the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
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