What does it mean to eat well in the context of cancer prevention?
There are four key principles to follow:
1. EAT MORE PLANT FOODS
Fruit and vegetables are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals, all of which act in the body to help protect against cancer.
It is likely that these nutrients work in together, rather than individually, to reduce cancer risk.
Fruit and vegetables contain varying amounts and types of these nutrients, so variety is the key.
Fruit choices should include citrus, berries, and red, orange and yellow-coloured fruit.
A variety of vegetable types should be consumed, including cruciferous (e.g. broccoli), allium (e.g. onions, leeks), dark green leafy vegetables, and red, yellow and orange-coloured vegetables.
It is wise to eat both raw and healthfully cooked vegetables, as there are some cancer-fighting agents which are absorbed better from cooked fruit or vegetables.26,27
Interestingly, some of the starch in whole, unprocessed plant foods is not digested by human enzymes and is instead fermented by bacteria in our large intestine.
The fatty acids produced by this bacterial action are important for bowel health and may protect against bowel cancer.28
The WCRF Expert Report recommended eating:
• at least five serves (400g) of vegetables and fruits every day
• unprocessed grains and/or legumes with every meal
• limited amounts of refined, starchy foods
According to the report, most diets that have cancer-protective agents are made up mostly of plant foods.5