It's time for our country to accept that poor diets are just as bad as smoking

If you are reading this blog, you probably already recognize what I am about to report and have read about why it is so important that we make wise eating choices.  However, most Americans are not like the average DiseaseProof reader and I’m willing to bet many people believe still believe that whether or not we get cancer depends on the genes we are dealt or even luck.  Most will agree that smoking is a cause of cancer, but what about what we eat? Will most people agree that our food choice make a difference in whether or not we get cancer down the road? Well, interestingly nutritional research scientists are now coming to the same conclusion as my father, indicating that, yes, our diets can be just as disease-promoting as smoking cigarettes. 

Cigarette. Flickr: ConanilThese findings were published by the World Cancer Research Fund in an article entitled, “Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective.” The report was the most comprehensive and systematic of its kind and involved 286 specialists who went through 500,000 scientific articles concerning 17 different types of cancer. The uncontestable findings were that 40 percent of all forms of cancer can be prevented by eating a well balanced diet, maintaining a normal body weight and participating in a moderate amount of physical activity. Head researcher, Jan Erik Paulsen, noted that the evidence shows that a bad diet is more likely to be a cause of cancer than smoking tobacco. 

The specialists on Paulsen’s team found that low carbohydrate diets that recommend red meat such as beef, pork, lamb and game, were particularly disease-promoting.  People who consume large quantities of red meat in order to keep their weight in check can end up getting cancer instead. 

What properties of red meat make it so dangerous? The researchers believe it is the combination of nitrates, heme iron and other substances found in red meats.  Nitrate reacts with heme iron to form a compound called nitrosyl hemoglobin, which can trigger certain types of cancer.  

Paulsen declared, “My theory is that heme iron is so stable that it survives the digestion of meat in the small intestine and goes on undamaged to reach the colon. Here it reacts with the metabolites (intermediate and end-products of metabolism), which are produced by the bacterial flora and forms nitrosamines, which are known to cause cancer.”

However, it is not just red meat that we should be wary of.  Unprocessed meats can be just as dangerous because they can use nitrite already in the stomach (produced from other foods) and form nitrosyl hemoglobin. Combine our diets of processed foods with animal products and limited quantities of vegetables and we’ve created the perfect cancer forming stew. 

Of course my father, Dr. Fuhrman disagrees, because he does not recommend a “balanced diet” to reduce cancer rates by 40 percent.  He recommends a nutritarian diet specifically designed with a portfolio of the world’s most powerful anti-cancer foods.  Dr. Fuhrman suggests that superior nutrition can decrease cancer death rates by 90 percent, not merely 40 percent.   This is because the dietary intervention he suggests is more rigorous and effective at preventing cancer and it is supported by tremendous evidence and clinical experience.  There are multiple studies on optimal consumption of super foods and cancer (his G-BOMBS list), and the statistics on very low rates of cancer in parts of the world that ate better more than 50 years ago before fast food and processed food became ubiquitous.  These populations had less than 10 percent of the cancer we see today. 

Cancer rates are now predicted to climb in the next few decades and the numbers aren’t pretty.  Globally, cancer rates are projected to rise by as much as 75 percent by the year 2030, while cancer rates in the poorest countries are predicted to double as more people are consuming a Western diet style.  These numbers are sad, yet what is even sadder is that many of them would have been prevented with changes in lifestyle. I think we need to begin to take responsibility as a country and begin accepting that our junk food lifestyle can no longer be acceptable.  We can make healthy eating taste great and we have the knowledge now to know which foods promote cancer and which foods prevent it.  It’s up to all of us to take care of our own bodies, but also to spread the word about eating healthfully to those we care about.  Until our nation declares that the salad should be the main dish or that we can reduce our risks of cancer by eating foods like mushrooms, cruciferous greens, and onions, we need to take this matter into our own hands and do our part. Every little bit counts.  

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Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Scott @ The Healthy Eating Guide - June 18, 2012 9:24 AM

Thanks for sharing. It's amazing how the majority of people don't think twice about the junk food they're stuffing into their mouths and where it comes from. It's pretty simple people: eat more plants, less red meat, and less processed foods.

Joe Mc - June 18, 2012 1:51 PM

Thanks for sharing this Talia. When I share the nutritarian style of eating with others, they sometimes say "I know, I know... moderation". But in truth, it is more than moderation. So I understand what you father means about a "balanced diet". You can't balance a nutritarian diet with garbage.

Roslin - June 18, 2012 3:43 PM

It's funny, but just a few weeks ago I was one of those people who ate fast food almost 5 days a week and sometimes more. A fast paced life coupled with a very tired body made processed food an easy choice. However, when the nutritarian life was introduced to me, I had to make a decision...do you want to continue to feel so tired every day...do you want to keep taking BP meds, wearing a CPAP machine and being over weight? I had to make a choice if I wanted to be around to see my son grow up. After talking to a gentleman that was twice my age, who was in great health, on no medications and lived the "Eat to Live" way, I made a complete 360 a few days later and became a fan of Dr. Fuhrman's plan. I'm 3 weeks in and I feel great! I've slipped a few times but I jump right back into step and just say to myself... This is a process...it's okay to slip up, just don't stay there!

sharon shaw - June 19, 2012 12:14 AM

Very eloquent and powerful words, Talia! The next time someone tells me that "the science does not support Dr. Fuhrman's claims" I will ask them how over 10,000 patients in 20 years worth of consistent dramatic results can be ignored-?!!

Matt - June 20, 2012 7:28 AM

Great article. Hopefully not off topic but what amazes me is the overwhelming emotional aspect that many people place on eating comfort foods. Many of my friends that try one of my green smoothies say it tastes pretty good but they still expect it to be a milkshake (from their reaction). Given all the tremendous nutrients and disease preventing qualities how can someone not think they are incredible? Until the light bulb goes off I guess it is difficult to get anyone to change their mindset. The real question is how can you encourage others to be as "amazed" by high nutrient foods without turning them off? Articles like this can certainly help. Thank you again.

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