As in most things in life, there are factors which we cannot control as well as factors that are dependent or impacted by our decisions. The sum total of these factors and the corresponding actions we take determine whether we attain or fail to reach all sorts of goals. Good health can be one of these goals, if we consciously decide to make it a priority. The best way to learn how to control and modify that which depends on us and to manage that which does not is by acquiring information and education. Essential to our quality of life is the need to be informed and educated about foods we eat.
Cancer and type II diabetes are common illnesses which have greatly impacted populations throughout the world. Both illnesses share risk factors, including obesity and excess weight, physical inactivity, type of diet, smoking and alcohol consumption.
Prevention of both type II diabetes and several of the most common forms of cancer is possible and has been scientifically proven in hundreds of clinical studies. We know, for example, that an overweight individual, who has a high risk of developing diabetes, can either delay the onset of the condition or even completely prevent it by losing weight. In cases of cancer, the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund have estimated that 30 to 40% of all cancer could be prevented with proper diet, physical activity and by maintaining a healthy weight.
The principal culprits that can lead to increased risk of having cancer or type II diabetes are: 1) Obesity, 2) Foods that are low in healthy nutrients such as those that contain refined sugar or products with very processed flour which alter sugar metabolism (and lead to diabetes), 3) Low fiber consumption, 4) Excessive consumption of red meat, and 5) Inbalance in the intake of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
Becoming educated and knowledgeable about the nutritional properties of foods is something we can proactively manage in our day to day routine. This way we will have a good general idea about which foods are really beneficial to our health and learn to eat what will benefit us. Within this “ideal diet” we should include:
a.- Abundant portions of fruits and vegetables. The majority of studies published in recent years suggest that we should consume 4 to 8 portions of fruits and vegetables per day. There are foods of this type that greatly benefit us which are truly affordable and easy to both purchase and prepare. These include flax seeds, chia seeds, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts – all high in fiber, omega 3, and antioxidant protective substances, all proven allies in the prevention of cancer and diabetes. So clearly, there are no excuses for shirking fruits and vegetables: there are many wonderful, tasty and nutritious options available!
b.- Foods rich in selenium, folic acid, vitamin B 12, vitamin D, chlorophyll and carotenoids (antioxidants). All these substances are abundant in fruits and vegetables.
c.- Using probiotics, which are live microorganisms that are added to foods and have beneficial effects on the health of those who consume them. They are commonly added to dairy products like yogurt, or even better can be taken in capsule form.
A diet that includes the three above-referenced points, can lead to a 60-70% decrease in breast, colon and prostate cancer; a 40-50% decrease in lung cancer as well as some other types, according to a 2004 article in Nutrition Journal. Over 70% of type II diabetes cases could also be prevented. And this data continues to hold true today!
It is important to understand that no one nutritient can singlehandedly protect, prevent, or cure either cancer or diabetes. We must look at a complete picture where a combination of nutritional elements work together to optimize our health, extending the potential for an excellent quality of life, free from cancer and diabetes.
Additionally, although there are definite guidelines for developing healthy eating habits, there is no one universal diet for all. Each of us has individual needs and if we learn basic nutritional values, we can each structure a food regimen or diet that is uniquely tailored to our tastes and requirements. As part of this process, seeking professional input from a nutritional specialist can help us more readily achieve optimal results.
Our “diet” is one of those factors in our lives over which we can definitely have control by becoming informed and knowledgeable about nutrition. Go ahead and take the plunge: develop your very own nutritional regimen starting today!