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he role of diet in maintaining good health and preventing illness has become mainstream in the past decade or so. But things have not gone far enough and individuals can do a lot more through diet, exercise and stress management to prevent chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease, diabetes and many cancers.
A Healthy Diet Involves More Than Moderation
All of us need to acknowledge the link between nutrition and disease and take responsibility for what we put in our bodies. We need a shift in people’s perceptions of what moderation means. For instance, a lot of dietitians advise people to eat everything in moderation, but there are certain foods that we should avoid completely and others that we should eat more of.
Several studies have shown that processed foods increases the risk of digestive system or colorectal cancer, so people should generally avoid eating processed meats like salami, hot dogs, processed hams and hamburgers and opt for a diet based on fresh sourced products instead. The problem is that a lot of food advertising does not help people understand what a really healthy diet is, and the epidemic of obesity shows that the prevention message is not really working.
How Much Can Diet Help Prevent Disease?
There are numerous studies that back up the role of diet in prevention or recurrence of certain cancers.
For example, high fibre, low-fat diets reduce recurrence of breast cancer by 31 percent in women with higher oestrogen levels, according to a new report from the Women’s Healthy Living and Eating Lifestyle study in the United States. In the study, about 3,000 breast cancer survivors were randomly assigned to either a special high-fibre diet including five vegetable servings, 16 ounces of vegetable juice and three fruit servings daily or a comparison diet based on the US Department of Agriculture’s five serving of fruit and vegetables guidelines.
Unfortunately, there is not a single magic food that alone can fight cancer, although many salesmen would want you to believe it. But, increasingly, the medical community is embracing the idea that a low-fat diet packed with fruits and vegetables may be one of the best ways to reduce your risk of cancer as foods high in natural chemicals called phytonutrients and antioxidants help promote activity of the body’s two main defense systems: the immune system and the liver.
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