The Link Between Diet & the Development of Some Diseases

The Link Between Diet & the Development of Some Diseases

How does diet affect certain disease processes? Can our diet choices have an effect on our personal health risk outcomes?

Many factors influence the development of diseases like cancer. Over the past 25 years, science has shown that diet, physical activity, and body weight—especially being overweight or obese—are major risk factors for developing certain types of cancer. Your body’s ability to resist cancer may be helped significantly by following a healthy diet, staying physically active, and avoiding excess body fat. This is good news for those of us that did not realize that there is a connection to how we eat and avoiding disease!

Study after study, suggests that a healthful diet—one rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (beans), and low in red and (especially) processed meat—can fight a number of diseases, such as cancer.

Researchers have also known for a long time that this rather “general” pattern of eating provides vitamins, minerals, and protective naturally-occurring plant substances known as phytochemicals, and can help to defend the body against cancer and other diseases. So, how do they work?


The scientific community has identified many naturally occurring substances in plant foods with the power to defuse potential carcinogens. Some of the nutrients and phytochemicals actually seek out toxins and usher them from the body before they can cause cellular damage. Others seem to make it easier for the body to make repairs at the cellular level. Still others may help stop cancer cells from reproducing. Even after a cell begins to experience damage that can lead to cancer, what you eat and drink, and how you live can still help short-circuit the cancer process.

For me as a practitioner, this information has over-whelming implications. For many years, we have suggested that it would be a good idea to eat fresh foods in the hopes that it MIGHT do us some good in the long run. But, today it is more directly suggested that we all look very seriously at our food intake and see what good changes we can make for the better!

For more questions about diet and nutrition-related issues, please contact me! I’d be happy to help in any way I can!

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Did you or someone you know change their diet after a cancer diagnosis? Did it help with treatment?

By Rita Larsen, RD, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Nutrition Educator & Diet Counselor

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