It’s true we cannot control everything, such as genetics or environmental influences, but there are several evidence-based ways we can engage in an anticancer lifestyle.
1) Strive for a healthy weight.
Aside from NOT smoking, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life has been declared the single most potent cancer-prevention approach currently available. In general, it is scientifically well-established that eating fewer calories, while maintaining an intake of essential nutrients, leads to a significantly longer lifespan.
2) Eat a diet rich in plant foods.
To eat fewer calories, simply start by cutting back on added sugars and processed foods and focus on adding more whole, plant foods into your meals and snacks:
- Aim for 5 to 9 daily servings of brightly colored veggies and fruits -- which provide an abundance of nutrients and anticancer phytochemicals;
- Reduce red meat and avoid processed meats by swapping in more plant proteins (beans/legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains) and fish;
- Avoid fast foods and fried foods and opt to get your fats from fruit oils such as cold-pressed olive and avocado oils. The consumption of plant monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), particularly from olive oil, has been associated with lower cancer risk.
3) Sit less. Move more.
Too much sitting is distinct from too little exercise. Sedentary behavior and physical inactivity both have negative health effects, and evidence suggests that the risk of disease and premature death is particularly elevated when they occur together. Reduce bouts of time spent sitting by getting up and moving for 5 minutes at least every 30 minutes. Studies show those who sat less than 30 minutes consecutively had a 55 percent lower risk of death compared to people who usually sat for more than 30 minutes at a time. Gradually increasing your physical activity duration to reach or exceed the recommended 150 to 300 minutes a-week of moderate-intensity movement is also important.
4) Build and train your resiliency muscle.
Research links mental illness, unfavorable coping styles, and negative emotions to higher cancer incidence and poorer cancer survival. Resilience is the ability to return to mental well-being after adversity. It is a quality and skill that can be learned and enhanced, but requires training, effort and consistency. Resiliency training helps us draw upon and develop our strengths and the internal and external ‘protective factors’ that help us overcome adversity or hardships. Resiliency and mental health play an essential role in maintaining good physical health and the ability to sustain health-promoting behaviors.
Bojková, B., et al. (2020). Dietary fat and cancer—which is good, which is bad, and the body of evidence. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(11), 4114. doi:10.3390/ijms21114114
Diaz, K. M. (2017). Patterns of sedentary behavior and mortality in U.S. middle-aged and older adults. Annals of Internal Medicine, 167(7), 465. doi:10.7326/m17-0212
Massetti, G. M., et al. (2017). Mental health problems and cancer risk factors among young adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 53(3). doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2017.04.023
Ussery, E. N. (2018). Joint prevalence of sitting time and Leisure-Time physical activity among us adults, 2015-2016. JAMA, 320(19), 2036. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.17797
Seiler, A., & Jenewein, J. (2019). Resilience in cancer patients. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00208
Ussery, E. N., et al. (2018). Joint prevalence of sitting time and Leisure-Time physical activity among us adults, 2015-2016. JAMA, 320(19), 2036. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.17797
These materials are provided to you by Blythedale Children’s Hospital and Kohl’s
Eat Well, Be Well Nutrition Outreach Program.
For more tips and information, please visit Eat Well, Be Well.
Blythedale Children's Hospital, through the generosity of Kohl’s Department Stores, is proud to offer Blythedale and Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well, an innovative outreach program designed to bring health and nutrition education to schools throughout Westchester and Putnam counties. Through this program, Blythedale staff members teach healthy eating habits to children by providing curricula, training and educational tools to school districts throughout the area. The program provides general nutrition guidelines to students, parents and school faculty. Blythedale Children's Hospital offers experts in nutrition and health-education to speak with local parenting groups, PTAs and school personnel.
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