Cancer cases are on the rise today and many believe that this is because we are making bad lifestyle choices. You can reduce your risk of contracting this dreaded disease by looking after your body. What you eat plays a major role….. 

The benefits of exercise are not only to look good; you will have more energy, stamina, be happier, handle stress better and see improvements in your hair and skin. Being overweight also increases your chances of developing some cancers and other diseases like diabetes. Choose an activity you enjoy, or walk and take the stairs whenever possible. 

Carbohydrates have an important role to play when eaten as part of a balanced diet. The good ones contain roughage to keep your digestive system in peak condition and should be included with all meals. Some healthy carbohydrates to eat with meals are:Breakfast – Bran flakes, muesli, oatsLunch – wholewheat pasta, mealies, sampDinner â?? brown rice, potatoes with skin (Sweet potatoes are even better) 

The â??five a day ruleâ? is repeatedly stressed in so many healthy eating guides that you cannot afford to ignore it. Latest research shows fresh strawberries are amazing cancer fighters and in communities where spinach is eaten daily, cancer rates are the lowest in the world. Fruit juice does count but whole, fresh fruits eaten with their skin on are the best ways to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

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Bananas (you have to peel these though) are great breakfast accompaniments for stamina to last you through the day (tennis players and other sports players eat them during big matches) and fruit salad is a nutritious breakfast when you have the time to chop and peel. When you have that afternoon blood sugar slump at work, eat an apple instead of a chocolate.

Eat plenty of salads in summer and vegetable-packed soups and stews in winter. Make sure you get a variety of different colour vegetables in your diet. 

Red meat, although high in protein is also high in animal fat and therefore cholesterol, so avoid eating it more than once or twice a week. Chicken and fish are healthier options and should be eaten in low-fat form. Fish is the ideal â??brain foodâ? â?? eat salmon and sardines for protein as well as essential fats which are great for your brain functioning as well as improving memory and fighting depression. Tuna should only be eaten once a week as it can be high in mercury. 

Eat boiled or poached eggs instead of fried and buy fat-free dairy products (low fat means the product is only marginally lower in fat) 

Some tips for cooking chicken, meat and fish: 

Remove the skin and grill instead of frying

Use lemon, herbs, chilies, garlic and ginger instead of salt (processed meat, packet soups and sauces contain lots of salt so use these sparingly) 

If you decide to give up meat and become a vegetarian, make sure you donâ??t forget the protein. Protein is essential for building and repairing your cells and fruit and vegetables alone canâ??t do the job. Nuts, dried beans, peas and soya are a must for anyone following a vegetarian diet. Add them to your meals in the following ways: 

Breakfast: Soya products are available in the form of yogurts, milk and custard

Lunch: Baked beans on toast provide fibre as well as protein

Dinner: Soya mince is a great alternative for spaghetti bolognaise and burgers, and three-bean salads are great for providing your protein quota at a braai.Lentils and beans can be used in curries and stews 

Water flushes toxins from your body hydrates your brain to prevent headaches, helps to maintain a healthy metabolism, aids your kidneys in ridding your body of acid and even aids weight loss. 

Exercise daily, even if itâ??s just walking more

Maintain a healthy weight â?? try to stay within five kilograms of your ideal weight

Drink alcohol in moderation â?? no more than one unit (for example a small glass of wine) per day for women

Donâ??t smoke (not even in moderation)

Donâ??t overdo the sun and always wear sunscreen outdoors (even in winter)

Eat a balanced diet to fight disease

 If you are getting a wide variety of foods every day, your body is absorbing a variety of vitamins and minerals to help fight against illness and infection. Make time to eat nutritious, wholesome meals; if you really canâ??,t take a good multivitamin supplement. 

Exercise is vital

Donâ??t ban the carbohydrates

Fruit and vegetables are great cancer fighters

Healthy protein options

Importance of protein for vegetarians

Drink lots of water

A healthy lifestyle also involves looking after your body by adhering to these simple rules:

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.