Cancer in general, takes a big toll on the survivor and his/her family in many ways. I’ve lost family and friends to cancer and currently have an extended family member, just 40 yrs old, diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer (BRCA) and is currently undergoing chemo. Cancer survivors need a great deal of help in many aspects during their cancer journey and nutrition plays a pivotal role.
American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) reports that 1 in 8 women in the US will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. But the good news is that more women are surviving their diagnosis and surviving longer. The reasons for the survival could be attributed to early detection, better treatment techniques and health awareness.
To raise BRCA awareness, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group have partnered on the “Let’s Beat Breast Cancer campaign” with breast cancer surgeon Kristi Funk, MD, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The campaign highlights 4 important aspects to reduce BRCA risk, and they include choosing a healthful plant-based diet, regular exercise, limiting alcohol and aiming for a healthy weight.
So what is a plant-based/ plant-centered diet? Does it matter if you are vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian or flexitarian? I believe, as far as you are loading up on healthful plant based foods, you have landed in the right place.
Why choose a plant-based diet?
Plant-based diets provide bountiful of health benefits, including providing anti-oxidants, phytochemicals that lower your risk for cancer and many chronic diseases, lower your weight, provide satiety, supply vitamins, minerals and fiber. AICR evidence shows that eating whole grains, vegetables and other plant foods contribute to cancer protection.
How to incorporate more plant based foods in your diet?
1. Choose healthy, whole and unprocessed foods: Aim to fill ⅔ of your plate with healthy, wholesome, unprocessed grains, colorful fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts. Cut down on your highly processed, refined and sugar loaded foods and replace them with healthy plant based foods.
2. Engage in regular physical activity: Pick an activity that you like the most. But make sure you try to engage in regular physical activity everyday or most days of the week. Try aiming for 45 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily.
3. Limit your alcohol intake: The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that if alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age. Again, it’s your judgement call to draw a line and limit your intake.
4. Aim for a healthy weight: Did you know that losing as little as 5% percent of your body weight — 10 pounds for a 200-pound person — can improve your health, make you feel better, and cuts down on your risk for developing chronic disease. AICR’s new findings show strong evidence that being overweight or obese is a cause of 12 cancers and maintaining a healthy weight can reverse your risk of developing chronic health problems and cancer.
So, to conclude, give your very best to maintain a healthy weight, eat a plant-centered diet, limit alcohol consumption and exercise regularly.
Prevention is better than cure.