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Always Best Care | Aug 31, 2022
Maintaining good health can go a long way in reducing cancer risk, and a well-balanced diet is part of the equation. Eating nutritious meals can give seniors’ bodies the fuel they need for a strong immune system and faster recovery as well as reducing cancer risk. There are many factors that can affect a person’s risk, including genetics, environment, lifestyle, and diet. While diet alone may not prevent cancer, it can play an integral role in overall health.
What to Look For
When building a well-balanced diet to reduce cancer risk, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Incorporate more whole foods into your diet and fewer processed foods.
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains.
- Limit foods that have high levels of added sugar, sodium, or preservatives.
Do some research and look for foods that contain phytochemicals or phytonutrients. These are naturally occurring compounds that can be found in a wide range of plants and may help prevent chronic diseases such as cancer. There are different types of phytochemicals that may do everything from preventing and repairing cell damage to inhibiting tumor growth to boosting immunity.
What Foods to Eat
As you create your meal plans, the more colorful the meals, the better! Visit your local farmers market to find fresh, seasonal vegetables. Stock up on fruits and vegetables that are dark green, red, yellow, or orange. If you can’t find fresh produce, frozen or canned can work well too, just make sure they are not packaged in sugary syrups or sodium-laden preservatives.
Healthy options include:
- Spinach, kale, Bok choy, or other dark leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
Don’t forget to incorporate some whole grains as well while limiting refined carbohydrates. Swap out white rice for brown rice, regular pasta for whole wheat pasta, and white bread for whole grain bread.
When picking a protein, choose lean meats such as chicken or turkey, as well as fish. Lentils, eggs, chickpeas, black beans, and pinto beans can also be great plant-based protein sources.
Mix things up and eat a variety of raw vegetables as well as cooked ones. Find ways to incorporate cancer-fighting foods into your diet wherever possible, and shop around the perimeter of the store because that is often where the less processed foods are found.
- Punch up the flavor using fresh herbs and spices as opposed to salt or butter. A little bit of olive oil is a healthy fat, but don’t overdo it.
- Bulk up soups and pasta sauces by adding extra veggies.
- Blend nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables into a smoothie.
- Eat raw vegetables as a snack or roast them as a delicious side dish.
- Include whole grains to keep you feeling fuller longer and increase your fiber intake.
These same tips also apply if you are in treatment or remission from cancer. You want to support your body with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to help it heal and fight off infection.
Get Help with Meal Planning and Preparation
Seniors don’t have to do everything on their own. In-home care providers can be a wonderful resource and source of support. They can help with meal planning, shopping, and food preparation so that seniors have easy access to a healthier diet that fits their nutritional needs and goals. This can be especially helpful if using knives or appliances is unsafe, if it is difficult for seniors to navigate the kitchen or store, or if they are undergoing cancer treatment. An in-home caregiver can also provide companionship during meals to encourage aging adults to eat and make sure foods are safely prepared and stored.
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