5 Dietary Changes That Will Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Spread of colorful fruits and vegetables on a gray surface

Research points to diet as a useful tool for reducing your cancer risk. Progya B. Aakash, RD, a clinical dietitian at UM Charles Regional Medical Center, offers her tips for creating a diet that’s optimized for cancer prevention:

Watch Your Plant-to-Meat Ratio

A balanced diet full of variety is just common sense for overall health at this point, but there’s also evidence to suggest that how you’re balancing your food groups is just as important in limiting your cancer risk. 

Research done by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research says plant-based foods should ideally make up at least two-thirds of what you’re putting on your plate. As for meat? It should make up less than one-third of your meal.

Consume Meat Mindfully

Even if you balance your meat consumption with other food groups, the type of meat you choose to consume — and how you choose to cook it — can also have an impact on your cancer risk.

Limit your intake of red meat and consume fewer than three portions per week. You’ll also want to avoid processed meats whenever possible because they contain compounds that can be carcinogenic (i.e., potentially cancer-causing). And be considerate about how you’re cooking your meat because studies have shown a greater concentration of carcinogens in meats cooked at high temperatures.

Avoid Alcohol

There are already plenty of reasons to avoid overdoing it with alcohol, but one of the most commonly overlooked is its ability to inhibit your body’s natural cellular functions. Alcohol alters the creation and the repair of cells in your body which increases the number of carcinogens that enter your cells.

“The effects of alcohol on your body are especially harmful when combined with smoking or tobacco use,” Aakash said.

Get a Side of Exercise

Pairing a healthy diet with regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your cancer risk. From strengthening your immune system and regulating hormones to aiding in digestion and reducing inflammation, there are so many reasons to get moving. Oh, and of course, it helps moderate weight, too.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

A nutritious diet paired with regular exercise can help you stay at an ideal weight, which is an important element of reducing your cancer risk. Being overweight changes the body in ways that increase your risk for cancer, such as altering delicate hormone balances, changing metabolism, and creating chronic inflammation.

Want to put together a healthy diet plan that could help reduce your cancer risk? We’re proud to offer diet and nutrition services at UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Primary Care in La Plata and UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Diabetes & Endocrinology in Waldorf, led by Clinical Dietitian Jamilah Bugayong, RDN, LDN. To learn more or make an appointment, please call (301) 609-5044.

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