This is a mini-series coming up now – cycling, food and me. You might have seen I recently went to a nutritionist where said I want to live for another 50 years – this would be taking me to well over 100. In these next 50 years I would like to be healthy and active. The advice I had was fairly straight forward, nothing too radical and building on my existing good intake of healthy food. Can I stress that the advice was for myself? I am posting it as a reminder for myself and because it might be of interest with others. However, I need to state the obvious and say it was tailored for myself – only you can decide if it is applicable to yourself.
Amongst the considerations of living another 50 years is doing what I can to avoid cancer. We all know that this disease will eventually finish many of us off and indeed it runs in my family so I want to take some preventative steps.
Below I’m outlining the advice which the nutritionist gave me:
- Continue with my vegetarian diet but make sure I get enough proteins, B12 and Omega 3. As I do begrudgingly eat some fish (which I don’t really enjoy) the advice is to have oily fish, for example salmon and if tinned to eat the bones as well. It was suggested once or twice a week.
- Although I don’t eat any processed meat, this was mentioned as a significant cancer risk for anyone who does. This is apparently due to the nitrites in sausages, ham, burgers and other heavily processed foods like that.
- Animal fats in general are to be avoided wherever possible. It was emphasised also to avoid non-organic red meat for anyone who does eat meat (aside from the ethics of growing food for animals instead of people). Processed foods often have hydrogenated or trans fats. These are bad news and are when liquid oils are turned into solid fats through a manufacturing process (includes the manufacture of margarines). These foods also raise low density lipoproteins (LPL) which are the bad kinds of cholesterol. The greatest danger of trans fats is the ability to distort cell membranes, as well as cell structures.
- Best to limit dairy products but not eliminate completely. As an alternative to milk, it’s worth trying rice, hemp or coconut milk. Breast and prostate cancers have been linked to dairy products.
- The biggest cancer threat is actually sugar. I understand now how cancer cells feed on sugar (probably putting it crudely) and depress the immune system. I guess most of us have a bit of a “sweet tooth” and so I asked about honey. Honey is a good natural food and best taken in moderation. Manuka honey is known to be good as are local honeys which can be helpful in dealing with hay fever. Consuming too much sugar causes the body to use supplies of calcium, chromium and thiamin. This is something I will need to watch as I do like some sweet things. Besides, excess sugar leads to a whole load of other health problems.
- White flour and white pasta products are also bad news, not that I generally go anywhere near these.
- Don’t re-heat foods in plastic containers
- Fried, burnt or smoked foods contain cancer causing chemicals. This is all to do with Heterocyclic amies (HCA) apparently.
Good foods to enjoy
- Nori flakes – a seaweed which helps eliminate metals which have accumulated in the body i.e. mercury or aluminium
- Papaya, mango and pineapple – helpful in fighting against cancer cells
- Garlic and onion – strengthens the immune system, amongst other benefits
- Soya may help protect us from cancer and it’s suggested this is taken in the fermented form of tempeh, natto (not heard of this) or miso.
- Generally eating more sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, spring greens, kale and shitake mushrooms (and these are best described as being an “acquired” taste)
- Curcumin helps reduce the risk of gastric and pancreatic cancers
- Water – to flush out the kidneys
- Organic foods wherever practical to avoid unnecessary chemicals
- Some foods are better eaten raw, others are nicer to enjoy if they are cooked. Ideally steaming is best, then baking or boiling
- Lycopenes, carotenoid are useful and found in tomatoes, carrots, apricots, cantaloupe melons and many other fruit or vegetables. With tomatoes the goodness is more easily used by the body once cooked
- Green or white tea as it contains a powerful antioxidant
- Aim for 7 to 10 portions a day. I easily achieve this and it was suggested I ought to increase my vegetable intake as I tend to eat a lot of fruit (about 6 or 7 portions a day, generally all different)
- Co-enzyme Q10 is something I must find out more about
- Selenium – a powerful antioxidant and I reckon my regular scoffing of Brazil nuts is helpful for this element
I asked about post-exercise nutrition. What, how long after and so on. The advice is that we do need to take on some proteins and antioxidants after exercise. This is where my liking of smoothies is useful and ideally we need to consume something within two hours of completing the cycle ride, run, work-out etc.