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Diet and cancer

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A healthy diet can help prevent a variety of diseases. Nutrition may also play a significant role in the development of cancer. It is not only important what you eat, but also how much you eat and how much energy you consume each day. Whether diet can influence pre-existing cancer is far less understood than its role in cancer prevention.

The German and Swiss Societies for Nutrition (DGE, SVE) have established recommendations for a diet to reduce the risk of cancer and also prevent recurrences:

1. Diversify your diet: A wide variety with appropriate combinations and adequate amounts of nutrient-rich and low-energy foods, preferably organically produced, can prevent cancer development and the risk of recurrence. A plant-based diet has been shown to be especially favorable.

2. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (5 a day): Five servings of vegetables and fruits a day are recommended, preferably fresh and cooked only briefly or as a serving of juice. This ensures the supply of vitamins, minerals, fiber and secondary plant substances (e.g. carotenoids, flavonoids).

3. Eat cereal products, legumes and potatoes regularly:
Bread, pasta, cereal flakes, rice – preferably made from whole grains – as well as legumes and potatoes contain hardly any fat, but plenty of vitamins, minerals, fiber and secondary plant compounds. The recommended amount of fiber is 30 grams and should come primarily from whole grain products.

4. Have enough milk and dairy products, but only a little meat: It is recommended to consume milk and dairy products, as well as fish frequently throughout the week. On the other hand, meat and sausages should only be eaten in moderation. Milk and dairy products as well as fish contain valuable nutrients such as calcium, iodine, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Meat is beneficial because of its high content of iron and vitamins B1, B6 and B12. However, quantities of 300 to 600 g of meat per week are already sufficient to meet the general needs for these micronutrients. White poultry meat is rated more beneficial than red meat (beef, pork).

5. Use fat and high-fat foods in moderation: Fat provides vital (essential) fatty acids, and fatty foods also contain fat-soluble vitamins.

6. Reduce the use of salt and sugar: Sugar and foods or beverages made with different types of sugar should be consumed only occasionally. A creative use of herbs and spices is recommended, using only a little salt.

7. Drink plenty: drink at least 1.5 litres of fluid per day, preferably water. Beverages containing sugar should be cut back or avoided as elevated blood sugar levels will increase the energy supply to cancer cells as well. Alcoholic beverages should be consumed only occasionally and only in small quantities.

8. Be mindful when preparing your meals: Food should be cooked at the lowest possible temperatures and with as little water and fat as possible, as this preserves the natural taste, protects the nutrients and prevents the formation of harmful compounds. The ingredients should be as fresh as possible.

9. Be mindful: Taking the appropriate time to taste and enjoy your food not only enhances the appreciation for what nourishes you, it also promotes the feeling of satiety, reduces cravings and over-eating, and adds to the overall quality of life.

10. Watch your weight and keep moving: A balanced diet and plenty of physical activity or exercise (30 to 60 minutes a day) go hand in hand and help regulate body weight.