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Tips to Help Prevent Stomach Cancer

By Mary Serphos
Certified Nutrition and Health Coach

Stomach cancer is an epidemic that strikes about one million people each year throughout the world. Unfortunately, it is especially common here in Costa Rica. Even though Costa Rica is known as one of the healthiest countries in all of Latin America, with a life expectancy of 77 years, stomach cancer has always been the prime cause of death in the cancer realm. The problem is that stomach cancer often goes undetected and by the time it is found it can be very hard to treat.

Up to 30 percent of all cancers are linked to poor diet but the good news is that we have the power to help control cancer with our dietary and lifestyle choices. Research demonstrates that people who eat a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and non-processed fish, meat and poultry in small portions have a significantly lower risk of developing stomach cancer as well as many types of cancers.

In the United States, The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently approved the statement, "diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer and chronic diseases." Although this was proposed in the United States, the message rings true throughout the world. 

The best way to help win the battle against cancer starts with making wise choices around what goes in your body and avoiding excess foods and substances that are harmful. Below are some specific suggestions.

1. Focus on eating a wealth of deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables. Dark green and yellow/orange vegetables are packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants; two powerful cancer fighters. Try to incorporate vegetables into your diet each day such as squash or ayote, carrots, papayas and mangos, all of which pack in a significant amount of beta carotene, another immune boosting nutrient.

2. Citrus fruit. It’s no secret that limes, oranges and grapefruit are among the richest sources of vitamin C which fights free radicals in the body. Just one portion a day provides measurable results. Use a bit of the zest as well as the fruit for maximum benefits.


3. Limit processed, smoked or preserved meats. Meats that are preserved by curing, smoking with the addition of nitrites including sausage, bacon, ham, bologna, and, hot dogs are strongly linked to digestive-tract cancers, including stomach cancer.

4. Reduce Sodium in your diet: Excessive salt intake has been identified as a possible risk factor for gastric cancer. Protect your stomach by limiting processed salt especially in canned and packaged foods such as chips and salty crackers. Instead of reaching for the salt shaker or MSG experiment with fresh herbs and dried spices, and other sodium free ways of flavoring foods such as dried or fresh garlic or cayenne pepper.

5. Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption: both of these are risk factors for most forms of cancer and stomach cancer is no exception.

6. Eat organic versus conventional when possible. When grown without genetically modified seeds or harsh agrochemicals and pesticides, almost every whole plant food provides vitamins, minerals, and enzymes important for good health. Food grown with pesticides has been proven to have fewer vitamins and nutrients than homegrown or organically grown food and is clearly the best option. When organic options are unavailable, difficult to obtain or out of budget range, the nutritional benefits of conventionally grown vegetables and fruit outweigh the risks of added pesticides and agrochemicals.





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