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Overturning those food myths

By Cherice Bronte-Tinkew

It is October and during this month, there are multiple events and campaigns for Breast Cancer awareness. Breast Cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women, but it affects men too.

It’s a disease where abnormal cells grow rapidly in different areas of the breast. Sometimes when it is not detected early, it can go untreated, and the cancerous cells spread to other parts of the body.

Risk factors include excessive family history of breast cancer, alcohol use, obesity, lack of exercise and poor diet. Based on these factors, it’s all about lifestyle and there may be many misconceptions about what causes and prevents such a disease. How about these myths below? I am certain you may have heard one before.

Sugar feeds cancer cells

First let’s look at the facts. Sugar gives us energy. The cells in our body use the simplest form of sugar which is glucose for energy. Sugar would not specifically feed the cancer cells only.

Excessive amounts of sugar can lead to gaining too much weight which is a risk factor for some cancers. The daily recommendation for sugar is six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men.

It’s best to choose foods and drinks with sugar under the limit – you may want to put down that 20-ounce juice drink with over 16 teaspoons of sugar now. Choosing fresh fruit instead of juice can also increase your intake of fibre and vitamins to help control your weight.

I should be on a diet that’s more alkaline

This concept was formed based on cancer thriving in an acidic environment. If one chooses alkaline foods, you can have less chances of developing cancer. I am sorry to say unfortunately the body does not operate like this.

There are very important organs such as your kidneys and lungs that controls the acidity and alkalinity of the body just fine.

Did you know the stomach where all food items enter while eating, is an acidic environment? Yes, it really must stay like that to digest.

Some people may find a better taste with alkaline water for example but it’s not a quick fix to prevent cancer. A variety of plant-based foods such as whole grains, ground provision, legumes, fruits, and vegetables contain fantastic phytochemicals (substances that give them colour) which aid in decreasing the risk of cancer and should be consumed daily to maximise the benefits.

All meats are bad for cancer

Does it mean I become a vegetarian or vegan? Well, evidenced-based studies have confirmed processed meats which refer to meats that have been transformed with methods such as salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, and other ways to enhance flavour or preserve are linked to increased risk of some cancers such as pancreatic and colorectal cancer.

Examples include sausages, smoked meats, and bacon. Meats such as fish and chicken were not linked to increased risk of cancer.

My advice would be to reduce the use of processed meats if it is consumed more than three times per week. Include more vegetarian meals with the use of peas and beans, maybe two days a week.

Always take into consideration your overall diet and consult with a registered expert before taking drastic action.

References: Cancer Research UK and World Health Organization

Cherice Bronte-Tinkew is a registered dietitian. She is a member of the Board of Nutritionists and Dietitians and the owner of a private online nutrition practice, JustCher Nutrition.

Facebook and Instagram pages-@JustCherNutrition.

Email- justchernutri@gmail.com