Cancer is the second leading cause of death in our country, according to statistics from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC). While prostate cancer is the main cause of death among men, according to data provided by the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS). Although deaths from cancer have been higher in men than in women, the difference is not great, so the population is called to seek options and habits that help us prevent this disease.
The CCSS has pointed out that the possibility of getting cancer in our country is one in five people. Likewise, one in three cancers could be prevented with healthy habits, including the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Healthy habits, diet and exercise
Dietary cancer prevention could focus on general basics such as:
- Eliminate the consumption of tobacco products (cigarettes and vaporizers).
- Moderate consumption of alcohol, and preferably eliminate it.
- Increase fiber intake.
- Maintain an adequate and varied consumption of fruits and vegetables.
- Moderate salt intake.
- Reduced consumption of fats such as sausages.
- Daily physical activity.
Food and cancer
From food, it has been known for years that adequate and daily consumption of fruits and vegetables can prevent, in some cases, up to 70% of most cancer risks. Thus, a relationship has also been found between a high consumption of sausage consumption more than three times a week with colorectal cancer.
The relationship between cancer and food is highly defined, the main prevention comes from the antioxidants in food, present mainly in fruits. Being Costa Rica a privileged country in the access, availability and variety of these foods, it is sad when it is known, according to the Nutrition surveys of our country, that the consumption of fruits does not reach three servings a week in the majority of the Costa Rican population.
A well-known antioxidant is the flavonoids in honey, which are present as aglycones, due to the presence of some glycosides derived from the salivary glands of bees, which help to hydrolyze these compounds, increasing their bioavailability.
In 40 healthy volunteers consuming 1.5 mg/kg honey, total antioxidant capacity and total phenolic content increased 2 hours after supplementation and remained high for 6 hours, suggesting that the bioavailability of these phenolic compounds it is quite high, inside blood cells or in hepatocytes (liver cells). It has also been shown that it can decrease intracellular ROS levels, oxidative damage to proteins, lipids, and the rate of apoptosis, as well as improve mitochondrial functionality and antioxidant enzyme activities, and promote wound healing by activating the AMPK-Nrf2 pathway.
One recommendation is the inclusion of a forest fruit smoothie such as blackberry, raspberry and blueberry. In our country there are a variety of frozen mixtures in supermarkets. It is important to remember that frozen foods that undergo an adequate process with a rapid decrease in temperature preserve nutrients much better in many cases, due to the fact that they are fruits cut at their maximum point of maturation and therefore availability of nutrients. If we buy at fairs, we must look for them to be produced as close to where we live, to ensure that they have not been cut too far in advance, and that they are as fresh as possible.
In our country we have blackberries, with a very high antioxidant power. National studies have compared the antioxidant power of a 120ml drink of blackberry juice with the most famous antioxidant, grape resveratrol, finding a similar antioxidant power.
Let us remember that it is a set of factors that will generate cancer prevention. For example, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are risk factors for breast cancer. Leading a healthy lifestyle, consuming honey and red fruits, must be accompanied by exercise and proper nutrition to improve the chances of maintaining good health.