Medical Questions » Cancer Questions » Question No. 1244
Question:Which are the best traditional anti-cancer diets in the world? I' ve heard amazing claims for the Mediterranean and Japanese diets.
Answer:A The Japanese have, traditionally, had very low risk for breast and prostate cancer. This is also true for parts of China and may be ascribed to a high intake of beans, especially fermented soya produce.

The Mediterranean diet, high in high-fibre wholefoods and fresh fruits and vegetables, is likely to be protective against cancers of the digestive system, notably of the colon. They also use olive oil, which some studies have shown contains fatty acids that have anti-cancer properties.

I think we can take the best factors from diets all over the world to make the best anti-cancer diet. The most important rules are to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, organic if possible; cut back on meat and choose fish or soya products instead; reduce alcohol intake; and avoid frying. You can ' steam-fry' by briefly stir-frying a panful of, say, vegetables and tofu in a small amount of oil, then adding a smallish amount of water, or a water/soy sauce/lemon juice mix, to the pan. Put the lid on tight and steam briefly to heat through and cook lightly.

I recommend you:

  • Avoid or at least limit your intake of red meat to a maximum of 80g (30z) a day.

  • Avoid or rarely eat burnt meat - be it grilled, fried or barbecued.

  • Minimise your intake of fried food. Boil, steam, steam-fry, poach or bake food instead.

  • Limit your intake of dairy food, choosing organic whenever possible.

  • Don' t drink alcohol and, if you do, certainly limit your intake to two drinks a day and ideally limit your intake to three or four drinks a week, preferably choosing red wine.

  • When you eat meat, opt for organic low-fat, game or free-range chicken.

  • Eat fish (herring, mackerel, wild salmon or trout) instead of red meat.

  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables - at least five servings a day, organic whenever possible.

  • Have a ' rainbow' of fruits and vegetables, including something orange every day such as carrots, sweet potato, tomatoes, peaches or melons, and something red/purple such as berries, grapes or beetroot.

  • Have a serving of cruciferous vegetable every day. This includes broccoli (including the tenderstem variety, which is excellent), Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale.

  • Have a clove or two of garlic every day, use shiitake mushrooms when you next have a stew or steam-fry and spice up dishes with turmeric. These all contain anti-cancer agents.

  • Have some soya milk or tofu every other day.

  • Add flax seeds to your breakfast cereal and use flax seed oil in salad dressings. Generally avoid refined vegetable oils - use only cold-pressed.

  • Eat wholefoods, such as wholegrains, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds and vegetables, all of which contain fibre. Some of the fibre in vegetables is destroyed by cooking, so eat something raw every day.

  • Drink green tea and ' red' herb teas rich in antioxidants. If you must have it, drink regular tea in preference to coffee. However, for general health, don' t drink excessive amounts of either.

  • Ensure you drink six to eight glasses of water, diluted juices, or fruit teas each day. An excellent choice would be cat' s claw tea sweetened with blackcurrant and apple concentrate.
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