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It’s pretty clear that diet plays a major role in disease prevention. (And six-pack creation. But you knew that already.)
In a 2014 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers created guidelines advising people to eat plant-based foods limit their consuption of alcohol, dairy, and meat. Here’s what you need to know.
Limit or avoid dairy products
Researchers found that consuming 35 grams of dairy protein each day—about 1.5 cups of cottage cheese—increases risk of prostate cancer by 32%. They also found that drinking two glasses of milk each day increases risk of prostate cancer by 60%. Furthermore, calcium supplements appeared to have the same effect as regular milk intake, so be sure you’re not overdoing it.
Limit or avoid alcohol
It’s important to moderate alcohol intake, and new information puts a huge emphasis on why. According to the new guidelines, one drink per week increases the risk of mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancers by 24%. Two to three drinks per day increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 21%. Alcohol itself—not the additives—is the cause of cancer, which means no type of alcoholic beverage is exempt.
Avoid red and processed meats
It might be time to adopt the Meatless Monday tradition. Each 50-gram daily serving of processed meat—about two slices of bacon or one sausage link—increases risk of colorectal cancer by 21%. Each 120-gram daily serving of red meat, equivalent to a small steak, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 28%. Try varying your animal proteins throughout the week and load up on mostly plant-based foods.
Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats
When in doubt, bake it. Four types of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are associated with cancer of the colon and rectum. HCAs form from creatine and amino acids in cooked skeletal muscle, increasing with higher cooking times and higher temperatures. When ingested, HCAs can disrupt DNA synthesis.
Emphasize fruits and vegetables
When it comes down to it, you really can’t beat the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Fruits and veggies, especially leafy greens, help reduce overall cancer risk. A high intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage, is associated with an 18% reduced risk of colorectal cancer and reduced risk of lung and stomach cancers. Also, including tomato products regularly in your diet has been shown to reduce risk of gastric cancer by 27%. Furthermore, garlic and other allium vegetables, such as onions, significantly reduce risk for gastric cancer. Researchers found that a Western diet (high amounts of meat and fat with minimal amounts of fruits and vegetables) doubles the risk for gastric cancer.
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