New rules: what to eat to beat cancer

19th June 2020 | Eativity editors

When it comes to beating the bad guys like cancer, it’s about what you eat as a whole – not one or two specific foods – that makes the most difference. That’s the advice from the American Cancer Society, which has updated its dietary guidelines for cancer prevention, with adjustments made to reflect the most up-to-date evidence.

The updated recommendations include a stronger emphasis on eating less processed and red meat, cutting back on processed foods, and drinking less soft drink and alcohol.

The society’s cancer prevention recommendations are revised regularly as new evidence emerges. They’re created by a volunteer committee made up of a diverse group of experts from multiple healthcare sectors. Based on this latest review of the evidence, the updated guidelines reflect a few key differences from the previous ones.

The verdict’s in: eat more veg, more beans and less meat.

Diet recommendations: previous

• Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods.
• Choose foods and drinks in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
• Limit consumption of processed meat and red meat.
• Eat at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
• Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products.

Diet recommendations: new

Follow a healthy eating pattern at all ages. A healthy eating pattern includes:

• Foods high in nutrients in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight;
• A variety of veg – green, red and orange – fibre-rich legumes (beans, peas) and others;
• Fruits, especially whole fruits with a variety of colours; and
• Whole grains.

A healthy eating pattern limits or doesn’t include:

• Red and processed meats;
• Sugar-sweetened drinks; or
• Highly processed foods and refined grain products.

Stick to one or two a day, or better yet, don’t drink at all. Sorry…

Alcohol recommendations: previous

If you drink alcohol, limit how much: no more than 1 drink a day for women or 2 for men.

Alcohol recommendations: new

It’s best not to drink any alcohol. People who do choose to drink alcohol should limit their consumption to no more than 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men.

“The guideline continues to reflect the current science that dietary patterns, not specific foods, are important to reduce the risk of cancer and improve overall health,” says Laura Makaroff, American Cancer Society Senior Vice President, Prevention and Early Detection. “There is no one food or even food group that is adequate to achieve a significant reduction in cancer risk.

“Current and evolving scientific evidence supports a shift away from a nutrient-centric approach to a more holistic concept of dietary patterns. People eat whole foods –not nutrients – and evidence continues to suggest that it is healthy dietary patterns that are associated with reduced risk for cancer, especially colorectal and breast cancer.”

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