Cancer and cardiovascular diseases will for the foreseeable future, remain the two leading causes of death globally. And both terms encompass many diseases, caused by many factors.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its big sister, HIV & AIDS pandemic, are each caused by but one virus (Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus respectively). On the other hand, cancer and cardiovascular diseases are caused by hundreds of genetic, ethnic, environmental, climatic, dietary, metabolic, etc factors. And each group of diseases can be caused by numerous viruses e.g. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) in the case of cancer, and Coxsackie virus, Coronavirus and Parvovirus B19 in the case of cardiovascular disorders.
INTRODUCTION TO DIET AND CANCER PREVENTION
Furthermore, the two ongoing viral pandemics (HIV and COVID-19), as is the natural history of epidemics, are expected to at some stage fizzle out. But that calming down is not going to happen with cancer and cardiovascular diseases! In fact, the two groups of diseases are on the increase because of, among others, negative climatic trends, increasing pollution and other environmental degradation, increasing incidence and prevalence of stress globally, and worsening harmful lifestyles.
As a result, it is important that humankind should, whatever new epidemic of whatever magnitude erupts, never lose sight of, and never deprioritise, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Diet has a very important role in the prevention and causation of cancer, as will be explained later. Therefore we shall have this 2-part discussion on Diet and Cancer Prevention. The remainder of the discussion can be found by clicking here.
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WHAT THIS ARTICLE DEALS WITH
This article (and the subsequent one) will, for the reason stated above, shed some light on cancer in relation to food, and educate the Reader, with a view to raising awareness and empowering the public so that cancer can be prevented as best as possible.
The Kitchen, or wherever food is prepared, is a very important place when dealing with cancer. In the Kitchen, the battle against cancer can be won, or it can be lost, at the personal, family, community, or global level. Therefore Diet is one of the most important weapons in Cancer Prevention.
The public needs to know what are the good attitudes and actions for the Kitchen, that can help to prevent cancer (or at least delay its onset), and what are the deleterious ones that promote cancer. That is the purpose of this 2-part article.
WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO KEEP IN THE KITCHEN, TO FIGHT OR PREVENT CANCER
The overall aim is to prepare, on a daily basis, balanced diets that contain all essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, trace elements and ANTIOXIDANTS. The subject of a balanced diet is one that is extensively taught to the public, from an early age, but one which tends to be ignored for various reasons including economic challenges and the fast paced life of modern times.
It is important to use plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts, taking care to include all the “Seven Colours” in our daily meals. This ensures that our bodies get all the necessary cancer preventing nutrients and micronutrients. The most important antioxidant vitamins are the “ACE vitamins” (Vitamins A, C, & E).
Link: The Seven Colours
Fruits and vegetables differ in the content of antioxidants, powerful nutrients that neutralise harmful elements called free radicals, which play a huge part in the causation of cancer. Easy availability of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables differs from region to region. Hereunder is therefore provided, links to lists of such foods, so that the Reader can see which ones are practically available on a routine basis where the Reader lives. (Research into traditional vegetables in parts of the world like Africa is unfortunately lacking. And these vegetables are easily accessible, and have withstood adverse events over centuries.)
Another highly important component of food, the daily intake of which has to be attended to diligently, is roughage. Roughage is a good scavenger of harmful compounds in the gut, compounds which play a role in the onset of cancers in general, but colorectal cancer in particular. Roughage also helps to keep the bowels moving regularly, which is very important for preventing colorectal cancer and other gut problems.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts are very good sources of roughage. In terms of carbohydrates, it is important to use BROWN CARBOHYDRATES, as they contain much more roughage than white carbohydrates. This is true for bread, rice, etc.
Some beverages are increasingly being proven to protect against cancer. Examples are caffeine-containing drinks, which protect against colorectal cancer, and also water (yes, pure, natural, old-fashioned water!), green tea and rooibos tea, grape and pomegranate juices.
Other items to always keep are garlic, turmeric powder and ginger.
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CHALLENGES THAT PREVENT DAILY BALANCED DIETS
I feel that the prices of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts have all over the world been hiked up to unjustifiable levels. This seems to be done because fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts have been widely promoted, especially in the 21st Century, for their health benefits, and this has caused some or most producers and / or retailers to see tremendous financial opportunity. It is therefore best to still try, despite the ongoing Climate Change, to produce these essential foodstuffs for ourselves and our families, year-round.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the issue of SUPPLEMENTS, with some Health Experts strongly recommending not to waste money on these, as all essential nutrients including vitamins, can be obtained from a balanced diet. This is an issue that this article cannot shy away from, given the importance of vitamins and micronutrients in the prevention of cancer. The reality is that no matter the differing opinions, 3/4 or more of Healthworkers themselves, use food supplementation. It is very difficult, given the hectic nature of modern life, to keep track of what we eat daily and to ensure balance. And even if we can keep track, sometimes it is impractical to obtain all necessary foods daily. It is therefore recommended to use affordable, good quality multivitamin/multimineral supplementation daily.
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Cancer can be prevented in the Kitchen. But it can also start in the Kitchen. Equipping ourselves with knowledge about the do’s and don’ts of food acquisition, storage and preparation, and continually updating that knowledge to incorporate new research findings, is vital and can save us and our loved ones.
We should eat wholesome, fresh foods such as are consumed by people living on farms. And we should aim for a diet that is as close to The Mediterranean Diet as possible.
In this article, we have looked into the DOs, and in the next article on this subject, we will look into the DON’Ts of Diet and Cancer Prevention.
By following this advice, and by sharing knowledge and experience (you Esteemed Reader can kindly add your voice in the comments below) we can reduce the scourge of CANCER.