Another Reason to Eat Healthy: Prevent Colorectal Cancer

I don’t know if I would ever run out of benefits to eating healthy and exercising. (OK, so this advice is coming from the girl who went to a baseball game last night and had chili cheese nachos, beer and chocolate ice cream for dinner!) But hey, that’s part of the deal… most of the time I’m a veggie, fruit, and whole grains gal so once in awhile I go bananas and it’s OK. But I could not eat like that on a regular basis. My GI would certainly complain because it used to low fat, high fiber foods.

In all seriousness, there are no guarantees in life. But there is evidence that eating whole, healthy foods can help prevent dozens of diseases and conditions. A new, large study shows that you can reduce your risk of getting colorectal cancer, especially among the fellas.

A National Cancer Institute study found people who follow dietary guidelines that stress fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while light on sugar, fats and red meat, can reduce their risk of colon cancer. The study included almost 500,000 adults over five years and shows men who stuck to any one of four diet indexes — all sharing the same philosophy — reduced their risk of the disease by 25% to 30%. Women, however, lowered their risk only through one diet index — the Healthy Eating Index-2005.

Read the full article

Want to know more about the “diet indexes” that these people followed? First, you should know that even though they are different, they share a common theme. All recommend eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy oils; getting enough calcium and vitamin D through sources such as dairy products; and limiting consumption of solid fats, added sugar and red meat.

1. Healthy Eating Index 2005 This is essentially a numerical rating system for how closely someone follows the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is the evidence-based gold standard healthy eating recommendations. The guidelines are developed by a panel of national experts: doctors, dietitians, health and nutrition professors etc. and they are endorsed by the government. They are updated every 5 years by Congressional mandate. If you don’t know the dietary guidelines, you probably know the graphical representation – the Food Guide Pyramid. Note: This is the only diet that helped to reduce risk of colorectal cancer in women in the study.

If you want to follow the healthy eating index, visit www.MyPyramid.gov where you can create a custom pyramid based on your age, gender, and activity level. You can also track your intake to make sure you are meeting the healthy food goals and not exceeding added sugar and saturated fat. You can print menu and grocery lists and best of all it is free!!

2. Alternative Healthy Eating Index A little competition never hurt no one! This is a food pyramid released by the Harvard School of Public Health, which claims that the government’s food pyramid is flawed because of influence and pressure from corporations who don’t want you to eat healthy. Many people agree with them. If you are one of them you should check out this guidelines/pyramid. I like the look of this pyramid better because it clearly shows the importance of exercise and the need to limit refined carbs, junk foods with empty calories and added sugars from sodas and all these processed foods. However, the recommendations are similar to MyPyramid — if you dig for them! MyPyramid recommends only 250 or so “discretionary calories” from saturated fats and added sugars. So if you stick to that, you can one soda a day and no other added sugar or saturated fats (butter, fatty meat etc.) I have to give the alternate “props” for just bluntly putting the advice out there.

3. Mediterranian Diet Score This is the numerical score for following the mediterranian diet, which focuses on whole, fresh foods (fruit and veg), healthy fat (olive and canola oil), omega-3 fats (mainly from fish), red wine, and limited animal meats especially red meat. If you want to learn more about this, be sure to check out the link to the Web MD site, which does a good job at providing an overview.

4. Recommended Food Score This is just a different way of scoring how closely someone is following the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans (see #1). One point is given for each time a recommended food is consumed.

Okay, so now you have some links to follow and hopefully something new to try.

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