News & tips on health, fitness and nutrition

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fiber and Cancer

The addition of fiber in the diet aids in digestion and helps to avoid constipation. Vegetables, fresh fruits (especially dried fruits) and whole wheat, bran, or oatmeal cereals are excellent sources of fiber. To reap the benefits of fiber, it is very important to drink plenty of fluids.

Eating more fruits and vegetables helps provide a good supply of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene and other carotenoids, and valuable substances called phytochemicals. Studies have shown that a diet high in these nutrients and fiber can reduce the risk of developing cancers of the stomach, colon rectum, esophagus, larynx, and lung.

Vitamin C and beta carotene, which forms vitamin A, are antioxidants. As such, they protect body cells from oxidation, a process that can lead to cell damage and may play a role in cancer.

In addition to nutrients that are needed for normal metabolism, plant foods also contain phytochemicals, plant chemicals that may affect human health. There are hundreds of phytochemicals, and their exact role in promoting health is still uncertain. However, a growing body of evidence indicates that phytochemicals may help protect against cancer.

To get these benefits, eat more fruits and vegetables that contain vitamins A and C and beta carotene. These include dark-green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, collards, and turnip greens. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines are also high in antioxidants. Other red, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables, or their juices are also healthful choices. Note: Juicing removes the fiber.

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