By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Proactive Health Labs
Have you ever been envious of people who seem to be able to eat whatever they want and still maintain a healthy weight? If you have, a recent study may make you feel differently.
The study, which examined more than 90,000 women, was a collaborative effort between multiple institutions including, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, University of Iowa, Purdue University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and the University of California.
Diets of postmenopausal women (between ages 50 and 79) were evaluated between 1995 to 1998 to see whether they developed cancers, over a time period of about 15 years.
Researchers found that women who ate junk food during the study period increased their risk of developing cancer even if they were not overweight. They suggested that we get out of the mindset that “some people are lucky and have a fast metabolism and can eat whatever they want without it affecting them.” Diets high in dietary energy density (DED) foods increase the risk of developing cancer no matter what your weight is.
Dietary energy density (DED) is the ratio of energy (kilocalories or kilojoules) intake to food weight (grams) and is a measure of diet quality. Consumption of foods high in DED has been associated with weight gain in adults.
Furthermore,” when UA researchers looked at DED in the diets of postmenopausal women, they discovered that consuming high-DED foods was tied to a 10 percent increase in obesity-related cancer among normal weight women.”
There is a clear connection between obesity and cancer, but there is also a clear connection between just bad diet and cancer alone.
“Diet is believed to play a role in cancer risk. Current research shows that an estimated 30 percent of cancers could be prevented through nutritional modifications,” according to the study.
As a result of these findings, we need to focus less on appearances and what is going on externally. What really matters is what is going on internally with our bodies.
This is why you should not be a calorie counter. It’s more important to focus on the quality of the calories you put in your body rather than the quantity. It’s true you do not want to consume too many calories, but keep in mind it is possible to have a lower calorie diet with unhealthy foods. So you may not be eating a lot, but what you are eating may be bad.
So how can we be proactive about an anti-cancer diet?
- Watch your sugar intake. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found evidence in a study, published in 2016, that consuming foods with a high glycemic index, (meaning foods that elevate blood sugar levels rapidly), may increase the risk of developing lung cancer in non-Hispanic whites.
- Eat foods with magnesium. There is some evidence that this mineral may reduce the overall risk of cancer. In one study, researchers found that the group with the highest magnesium intake seemed to have the lowest overall cancer risk, while the lowest magnesium level group carried a higher risk. Foods containing magnesium include spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, kefir, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, dark chocolate, and bananas.
- Eat foods with selenium. Selenium may be protective against cancer, and a deficiency in this important mineral is a risk factor for several types of cancer. Research shows that low serum levels of selenium were found in lung, laryngeal, prostate and urinary cancer patients. Foods high in selenium include Brazil nuts, yellowfin tuna, halibut, sardines, and chicken.
- Eat foods with zinc. People with an increased dietary zinc intake may have a lower risk of lung cancer, a study suggested, noting the protective benefits of this mineral. Foods with zinc include lamb, pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, mushrooms, chickpeas, spinach, and chicken.
- Eat foods with copper. People with increased dietary copper intake may have a lower risk of lung cancer, a study suggested, noting the protective benefits of this mineral. Copper rich foods include sunflower seeds, lentils, almonds, dark chocolate, beef liver and asparagus.
- Eat foods with iron. Increased iron intake may also help protect against lung cancer. Just be careful, because excess iron intake can cause other health problems. Iron-rich foods include red meat, pork, poultry, seafoods, beans, spinach (and other leafy greens), peas, cherimoyas and iron-fortified cereals.
- Eat foods with sulfur. Antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase (which are sulfur compounds), catalase and superoxide dismutase (which is a manganese compound), all neutralize DNA-harming free radicals, which contribute to cancer development. Most of your dietary sulfur comes from proteins such as fish, beef, and poultry. You can also find sulfur in egg yolks, beans, coconut, bananas, pineapple, watermelon, broccoli, garlic, onions, asparagus, leeks, kale, sweet potatoes, peas, chives, avocados, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, wheat germ and tomatoes.
Finally, it is critical to know what vitamins and minerals you specifically need as an individual. This is key in achieving optimal health. For more information on nutritional testing, click here.
When it comes to your health, you cannot judge a book by the cover.
Enjoy your healthy life!