What should a healthy diet be like to prevent cancer?

Eating a healthy and balanced diet and maintaining a normal weight can help you reduce the risk of various types of cancer . For this, it is enough to maintain a varied diet, in which all types of food are present in the appropriate proportions. In this sense, the Mediterranean diet is one of the most recommended, according to numerous studies, especially for its high contribution of fiber and antioxidants.

The Mediterranean diet in cancer prevention

As we all know, the Mediterranean diet is abundant in fresh fruits and vegetables , which supposes an important contribution of vitamins C, E, carotenes (antioxidants), minerals, fiber (fundamental factor in the prevention of some types of cancer, such as that of colon) and non-nutrient substances. 

But, in addition, the Mediterranean diet has other characteristics that promote good health , help maintain a stable weight and prevent both deficiency and chronic diseases:

  • Low consumption of red meat, mainly taking lean and young meats. This supposes a smaller contribution of saturated fats in this diet. 
  • High contribution of legumes, which have a high fiber and protein content and low fat content. 
  • Great consumption of fish, this being largely blue; which guarantees a high content of polyunsaturated fats and calcium in the diet. 
  • High consumption of poultry, which contain little fat, and whose meat is known to be unrelated to cancer risk. 
  • Preparation of dishes with olive oil, which provide monounsaturated fats and vitamin E (an important antioxidant). 
  • Important contribution of cereals and carbohydrates, assuming approximately more than 60% of the total energy ingested, with low consumption of simple sugars.

Foods rich in fiber

Fiber, present in fruits and vegetables, but also in other foods such as cereals (preferably wholemeal flours), legumes or nuts , is an essential part of a healthy diet, since it facilitates bowel movement and prevents the formation of carcinogens at the intestinal level. In fact, a high fiber intake would be related to greater protection, especially against malignant tumors of the oral cavity, esophagus, lung, stomach, colorectal, pancreas, breast and bladder. 

What role do they fulfill?

Its function in the digestive system is as follows:  

  • It retains water, thus increasing the volume of the stool, decreasing the transit time of the stool in the large intestine and increasing the number of stools per day. As a consequence, any carcinogenic substance contained in the faeces will be less in contact with the walls of the intestine. 
  • Delays gastric emptying providing a feeling of fullness .; For this reason, diets rich in fiber are recommended for obese people. 
  • It is capable of capturing free radicals (substances that are produced in the body normally, responsible for aging and some chronic diseases such as cancer), thus preventing their action on the cells of the intestine. 
  • Prevents the formation of carcinogenic substances at the intestinal level.  

How much fiber per day is recommended to consume?

It is recommended to consume between 20 and 30 grams of fiber daily . This is:

  • 2 servings of fruit and 3 vegetables a day (including children)
  • 6 servings of cereals a day (bread, rice, pasta … preferably if they are whole). 

If you are a teenager, an active man or woman, increase the number of them. In this way, enough energy and fiber are obtained from the diet to keep the body in good health.  


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