Medical News Today tells us that cancer is the second leading cause of death (right behind heart disease) in the United States.
Is there anything you can do to prevent unnecessary early death from cancer?
Yes there is.A recent article (Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combinations of phytochemicals) in the journal The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tells us that phytochemicals are a key component of a healthy diet that could reduce your risk of unnecessary death.
This article tells us that a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains “is a practical strategy for significantly reducing the incidence of chronic diseases.”
For example, the article tells us that a third of all cancer deaths could be avoided with an appropriate diet. And prevention is always a better strategy for staying healthy than treating a chronic disease.
More than 5000 phytochemicals have been identified in plant foods. These are biologically active non-nutrients in fruits, vegetables and grains. Many of these are antioxidant compounds that help protect your body’s cells by preventing oxidative damage. This reduces your risk of developing chronic diseases.
The Amount You Consume is Key
We all consume different amounts of fruits and vegetables. But, the journal Nutrition and Caner reports that the quarter of the population that consumed the fewest fruits and vegetables had double the risk of cancers when compared to the quarter of the population that consumed the most fruits and vegetables.
Of the types of cancers that were studied, phytonutrients helped protect people from the following cancers:
- Lung cancer
- Colon cancer
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Cancers of the oral cavity
- Stomach cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Ovarian cancer
Considering that breast cancer and lung cancer are at the top of the list of all cancers, this is critical information you need to act on.
Are You Getting Enough Fruits and Vegetables?
The Journal of the American Dietetic Association reports on average, Americans consume about 3.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention gives some guidelines for the consumption for fruits and vegetables. They indicates that “Adults who engage in <30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily should consume 1.5–2.0 cup equivalents fruit and 2–3 cups vegetables daily."
But, the sad fact is that most Americans are not getting the recommended levels of fruits and vegetables — and thus the protective phytochemicals. They indicate:
“Overall, 13.1% of respondents met fruit intake recommendations, ranging from 7.5% in Tennessee to 17.7% in California, and 8.9% met vegetable recommendations, ranging from 5.5% in Mississippi to 13.0% in California. Substantial new efforts are needed to build consumer demand for fruits and vegetables through competitive pricing, placement, and promotion in child care, schools, grocery stores, communities, and worksites.”
So, it’s vital that you increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
What About Individual Supplements?
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tells us that taking individual supplements is not an effective way to consume the important phytochemicals. They indicate that “taken alone, the individual antioxidants studied in clinical trials do not appear to have consistent preventive effects. The isolated pure compound either loses its bioactivity or may not behave the same way as the compound in whole foods.”
The combination of all the phytochemicals from fruits, vegetables and grains seems to be the important key to preventing many chronic diseases.
Supplements are simply not going to supply all the nutrients, phytochemicals and fiber found in real fruits and vegetables. That’s why many people are using blenders to create vegetable and fruit smoothies to capture the most nutrition possible for their healthy diets. Check out our page about juicing and blending to see how you can get the most healthy protection against chronic diseases.