Your health is in your hands: know what helps and what harms
According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), 30 – 40% of cancers can be reduced through lifestyle factors. These include diet and exercise, as well as the avoidance of cancer causing agents (called carcinogens) – and they can all help to reduce the cancer risk. As part of its Balanced Lifestyle campaign, CANSA offers pointers on how to reduce the cancer risk, by making informed lifestyle choices.
“Some obvious choices in helping you reach healthy behaviour include the following; avoid tobacco use, exercise regularly, eat regularly choosing less processed foods, choose a combination of more raw or steam, grill and stir-fry foods and cut down on added sugar/salt intake, avoid alcohol and of course it’s important to go for regular cancer screening,” advises CANSA CEO, Elize Joubert.
“Research has shown that poor diet and inactivity are two key factors that can increase a person’s cancer risk. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight is important to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including those of the breast (in women postmenopause), colorectal and rectum, endometrium (the lining of the uterus), oesophagus, pancreas, and kidney, among others,” warns Joubert.
Staying active is just as important as eating healthy. Be sure to exercise regularly – engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, over and above usual activities, on five or more days of the week. Check with your registered healthcare professional before starting an exercise programme.
Know your food
It’s important to know what you put into your body – whether it helps or harms your health. Some tips on how to make helpful and healthy choices include:
- Read food labels – be aware that ‘low-fat’ or ‘non-fat’ does not necessarily mean ‘low-kilojoule’
- Choose vegetables, seasonal fruit, legumes (such as peas and beans), and other lower energy foods, over sugary snacks
- Exclude or limit your intake of sugarsweetened drinks and fruit juices
- Exclude or limit your intake of processed meats such as bacon, sausage, lunch meats, and hot dogs
- Choose fish, skinless poultry, or beans instead of red meat (beef, pork, and lamb).
- Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products
- Drink plenty of clean, safe water, as a guide aim for at least eight glasses a day
A healthiershopping trolley
CANSA wants you to remember – it’s what comes into the home that matters, so shop wisely. Your trolley should contain a wide variety of foods and incorporate items from each of the following:
- Wholegrains and starchy vegetables.
- Fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables.
- Try to include fish twice a week, reduce intake of red meat.
- Opt for nuts, avocado and vegetable fats/oils, such as canola seed and olive oil.
- Try to include either dried or tinned versions of legumes and soya in dishes at least once or twice a week.
- Opt for at least one vegetarian main meal each week, include legumes, pulses and soya.
- Reduce your intake of added sugars and processed foods.
More info on what should be in your trolley can be found at http://www.cansa.org.za/adopt-a-balanced-lifestyle/. CANSA offers various screening that can help you determine your health and wellbeing such as the Healthy Lifestyle Risk Assessment, which can help identify health risks that you need to address (http://www.cansa.org.za/files/2014/03/CANSA-Healthylifestyle- risk-assessment-20140312.pdf). You can also take this assessment at any of the CANSA Care Centres across the country