This might be the hardest step for some people to make when changing a diet. In the West we are surrounded by processed food. We often find ourselves with hectic and busy work days that lead many of us to rely on processed food to sustain ourselves and our families. Keeping in mind that healthy food can be medicine, processed foods can cause more harm than benefit.
The first step is to avoid "white" foods
(white flour, white sugar, white bread), Processed, pre-packaged, and fast food is low in nutrients. Avoid white flour, white bread, white sugar and white rice which are all examples of refined foods where processing has removed their fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals
Second step: Eat less meat and other animal sourced foods. In addition to the unhealthy saturated fats found in animal foods, studies show that eating large amounts of red meat and processed meats can increase your risk for certain cancers.
Third: Reduce dairy products – Dairy and dairy products are a source of healthy fats, protein and a range of vitamins and minerals. However, despite the benefits, the suitability of dairy products for those with cancer has been questioned. Apart from the possible link between milk products and cancer, some people find that dairy foods can upset their digestion. This may be a particular problem following chemotherapy treatment. A dairy-free diet can provide plenty of calcium to support bone health as long as legumes, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds and whole grains are eaten regularly, also non-dairy alternatives are available such as rice milk, almond milk, soy milk and soy based foods.
Dairy milk evolved to promote the growth of grazing animals at high risk for predation when small. The consequences of lifetime human exposure to the growth factors in milk have not been well studied. Milk consumption increases serum concentrations of insulinlike growth factor 1, an anabolic hormone linked to prostate and other cancers. In addition, modern industrial methods maintain dairy cows in active milk production throughout successive pregnancies, resulting in a milk supply with high levels of reproductive hormones. Consumption of dairy products probably increases the likelihood or severity of prostate cancer, according to a report from the World Cancer Research Fund in 2007 (although the risk for colorectal cancer may be reduced).
Fourth, Avoid refined sugars – Candy, “junk” foods and soft drinks are high in calories and contain very few nutrients. These foods have high amounts of sugar, usually contain few vitamins or minerals, and have very little fiber. Avoid all sugary foods and use fruit (mostly fresh but also dried) to add sweetness to the diet. Honey, molasses or maple and fruit syrups can be used occasionally, if necessary.
Sugary foods to watch out for -
· Regular (sugar-sweetened) sodas and fruit drinks
· Desserts and sweets
· Sugar, honey, molasses, jams/jellies
· Yogurt prepared with added sugar
· Chocolate or other flavored milks
How much sugar is too much ?
Limit artificial sweeteners. It is not known what the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners are on the human body. These are sold in packets, but are also widely used in sugar-free and other reduced-calorie products. The five artificial sweeteners used in the U.S. are saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, neotame and acesulfame potassium.
Limit artificial additives and preservatives. These are associated with headaches, fatigue, asthma and other adverse reactions. Examples of artificial additives and preservatives include:
· Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
· Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
· Food dyes (for example, Yellow No. 5 and Blue No. 2)
· Nitrites (used as a preservative in processed meats)
· Trans/interesterified fats
Other important points:
Avoid smoked and salt cured foods- Research evidence shows that a high intake of smoked and cured foods may increase the risk of certain cancers.
Barbequed, char-grilled or burnt foods - Some studies indicate that grilling, frying and broiling meats produces carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals) in the meat.
Minimize Caffeine – caffeine is found in coffee and black tea, green and white tea, as well as in many soft-drinks. Caffeine can increase the body’s production of stress hormones and for this reason it is not recommended in large quantities. If you are having drinks containing caffeine, they are best taken with, or at the end of a meal.
Avoid Alcohol – Some alcoholic drinks such as red wine contain compounds with anti-cancer activity. However, alcohol in itself holds very little benefit to the body. It can place stress on the liver as well as undermining general health. Research evidence clearly shows that alcohol can increase the risk of certain cancers. Keep your alchohol intake for special occasion Link to study on alcohol and breast cancer risk.
Reduce Salt Intake – Salt provides the body with important minerals, such as sodium and chloride. However, many people consume too much salt which can disturb the fragile balance of minerals in the body. Much of the salt people consume comes from processed foods. Eat a whole food diet based on fresh, unprocessed foods which is a naturally low-salt diet and Use small amounts of soy sauce or unrefined rock or sea salt instead of regular table salt.
Limit saturated fats. While our bodies need a small amount of saturated fat each day, too much can increase the risk for stroke, high cholesterol, some cancers and infections during cancer treatment. Reduce the amount of whole and 2 percent milk, full fat cheeses and animal meats in your diet due to their high saturated fat content.
Eliminate trans fats and interesterified fats. These fats act like saturated fats in the body, but doctors believe the degree of their damage to the body is much worse. Be aware that foods can be labeled as having zero grams of trans fats if they contain less than 0.5 grams per serving.
To avoid trans and interesterified fats entirely, do not buy foods with “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated” oils in the ingredient list on the nutrition label.
You can also reduce trans and interesterified fats in your diet by avoiding:
· Packaged snack foods and desserts
· Fast foods, especially deep fried items
additional link on Foods to Avoid