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Food choices in the fight against cancer

A nutritionist expert, David Maina has advised Kenyans not to be jittery over the increased cases of cancer cases in the country but check on their diet because it could prevent 30 to 50 of per cent of the dreaded disease.

Maina said some cancer risk factors including genetics and environment were out of many people’s control, but several research studies have proved that 50 per cent of a person’s risk of cancer was within their power to control, including diet.

The nutritionist said adopting a healthy diet which includes a lot of plant-based foods, limiting alcohol and getting regular exercise were important steps in the prevention of cancer.

Speaking during an interview with KNA at his office in Nakuru town Saturday, he said a healthy diet needs to be based on sound principals that guide the food choices that people make on daily basis including variety, quality, balance, moderation and avoidance.

Maina said most importantly the principal of eating right is selecting a variety from five groups such as cereals and grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and dairy to ensure a wide range of nutrients to support a healthy body.

He advised wananchi to choose majority of their food from whole foods such as sorghum, arrow roots, and sweet potatoes and not refined foods because a large amount of their nutritional value has already been removed.

The nutritionist said obesity was a serious concern worldwide and there was need for balance between the amount of the food we eat and our physical activities for the achievement of a healthy body weight.

He expressed concern over the reduced walking distances in the rural areas since motorbikes were introduced in the country, adding that it was now obvious that the rural population was competing with their urban residents in obesity.

He said some important components of a healthful diet need to be eaten only in small amounts. This includes fats and salt, which he said were now being over consumed because they are affordable.

However, Maina said for those who have already been diagnosed with cancer, eating a nutritional diet could help support their mood and strengthen their bodies during their challenging time.

He urged the government to support home-based care for cancer patients, by paying health care providers who assist them at home as family members go out to build the nation.

By Veronica Bosibori

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