Stomach Cancer Awareness
Every November, the team at Comprehensive Cancer Centers recognizes Stomach Cancer Awareness Month as a great opportunity to raise awareness about stomach health. With stomach health, for cancers or any other illnesses, it’s good to spend some of that time looking into lifestyle choice changes that can help reduce risks.
Reducing risks for stomach cancer and other diseases can be easier than you think when you learn more about what you put in your stomach each day. While it’s understandable that no one can have a diet that would be considered perfect, making modifications to dietary intake to improve health can be done with only a few small changes.
Changes can be made from just looking at ingredients, either while cooking at home or eating outside of the home. A good ingredient to focus on to make significant changes to your health is salt.
According to a study done by Harvard University it is estimated that most people need about 500 mg of salt, also known as sodium chloride, daily for vital functions including conducting nerve impulses, contracting and relaxing muscles, and maintaining the proper balance of water and minerals. Most people in the United States; however, consume nearly 3,400 mg of sodium. This excess salt in the body contributes to many health issues include high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
The World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research concluded that salt, as well as salted and salty foods, are a probable cause of stomach cancer. With that knowledge in mind, the focus can then be shifted to finding ways to reduce the use of salt in foods eaten each day.
The National Kidney Foundation, has produced a list of relatively easy ways you can reduce salt consumption in daily diets.
Reducing Salt in Diet
Get Fresh Meats – If you eat chicken, steak or pork, get foods that haven’t been pre-prepared. Packaged foods are prepared to stay on shelves longer, and that’s often done through excessive use of salt.
Get Fresh Vegetables and Fruits – Similar to meats, veggies and fruits found in cans and in the frozen food aisle use salt to store them for longer periods of time. Get your greens from the produce section. And if you do get frozen items, make sure to look for ones that are labeled “fresh frozen” and do not contain added seasoning or sauces.
Do Your Reading – Looking at labels can offer an easy way to cut salt – and even calories -just by choosing a better option. Looking for an apple pie? Among the frozen options, some are less salty than others. You can compare various brands of the same type of food and pick the one with the least salt. The taste will be similar but the health benefits can be greatly improved with smart decision making.
Spice it Up – When making choices for ingredients for recipes, see if you can make simple substitutions, such as garlic power in place of garlic salt. A little extra time spent looking for alternatives, such as those listed in this link, can make sure your food taste great, but with less salt/sodium in your spices.
Do Your Homework – Everyone loves eating out, but not many people who do take the time to really look at what they’ll be eating . Before you arrive at a restaurant, you can check most restaurant websites to find ingredients for its dishes. Even if you’re not prepped by knowing what you’ll be eating before you arrive at a restaurant, you can still be in charge of your health by asking your server about lower salt options for menu items, or if a dish you want can be made without salt, or with reduced salt.
Salt Hiding in Good Company – Don’t be fooled by ‘good food’ that is actually filled with salts and sugars. This can include popular diet foods like cottage cheese that are often high in sodium. Same with yogurt, which is also a food sitting on a shelf that needs preservatives like salt to stay fresh. Shelf longevity is often powered by salt. Again, you can read ingredients and find better options. They may not last as long at home, though, so be mindful of when you’ll be eating food without preservatives.
Take Your Time – Reducing salt in foods can be an adjustment for many who have happily eaten salt and never considered how the food can be something of a mild addiction. It can take a month or two to adjust to eating foods with less salt. As with any change, give yourself time to adjust and don’t get frustrated as changes get implemented and your taste buds adjust.
A nice side effect from reducing salt consumption can be reducing your weight, making you feel lighter and healthier. Another side effect from eating fresher foods, including citrus fruits, is reducing your stomach cancer risks. It is important to note that grapefruit and grapefruit juice may change the blood levels of certain drugs you take. If you are on medications, be sure to check with your health care team before adding new elements like grapefruit to your diet.
Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help
Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for patients with stomach cancer and those interested in other services including cancer genetic counseling and world-class clinical research. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.
The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.