Are we facing a diet with a great carcinogenic potential?

Carcinogenic: having the potential to cause cancer. Diet is very important, as Hippocrates said with the phrase “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” You have to think that from the moment we are born until we die there is something we do every day, even several times in the best of cases: eating. Therefore, if we eat in a balanced and healthy way we do ourselves a great favour throughout our life, otherwise we enter a phase of continuous aggression that will end up charging us a high price, says Dr. Helena Rutllant, head of our Oncology line and Nutrition Specialist and Doctor at Clínica Corachán in Barcelona.

What do we do wrong when choosing our diet?

Dr. Rutllant is forceful with her response: “we have abandoned the diet of our grandmothers.” It has changed from being hours in the kitchen to just a few minutes to heat or fry precooked dishes. We prefer to eat very refined foods. We persist in eating fruit and vegetables out of season.

People used to buy local products, sometimes even directly of the farmer and ate what the season provided, in winter the fruit that abounds is orange, rich in vit C, good for mucous membranes and for colds and in summer fruit like watermelon or other types of melon, very rich in water which helps us avoid dehydration.

We started doing things wrong when all the fruits and vegetables are available at any time of the year. When we change the course of nature we are distorting a balance and that is not the only problem.

Nowadays we force a plant to grow quickly and not get sick, when in the end a plant has to make an effort to grow it will help to develop a protection mechanisms and be more resistant. An example is the maqui berry which grows under extreme conditions of temperature and drought in Chile, as soon as it was cultivated in more comfortable areas it resulted in the fact that the fruit contained less antioxidant power, contained more water and diminished a large part of its properties.

When we use so many products to “protect the plant” from external agents, deep down we are blocking the innate ability of the plant to defend itself and simultaneously make it absorb pollutants through the soil, leaves and fruit. We have a clear example with garlic and mushrooms, they are able to absorb everything that contains the soil around them. Therefore, if we contaminate cropland, the fruit will end up incorporating all those toxins.

The society in which we live

There has been a significant turning point in the decade of the 60-70, during this period there was an improvement in the standard of living for many families and consumption of animal protein increased considerably to the detriment of decreasing the consumption of vegetable protein, legumes, which used to be the largest source of protein in many households. Almost in parallel they began to consume a greater number of processed and refined foods etc.

We pay for aesthetics, and eat with our eyes, we prefer a huge apple, bright and without spots, no matter if what makes it shine is a layer of wax or plastic material, probably not very recommendable for our health, when taken in excess.

Like we want a plant to grow fast and healthy, we do the same with animals, we medicate them so they do not get sick, we “swell” them through feeding them food containing products so that they reach a high weight in a short period of time and all this ends accumulating in that organism which sooner or later will end up at our table.

If we add all these changes and prolong it over time, we will agree that “we are facing a diet with a much higher carcinogenic potential”. If to all this we add factors such as: smoking, pollution, stress, insomnia, electromagnetic waves … “we are creating a sickly society”. Fortunately, however, there is a sector of the population that is sensitive to the issue, which is looking for contaminant-free, seasonal foods that are committed to returning to the countryside, being their own producers and / or food suppliers, living in a more relaxed and healthy way.

We must be moderate the consumption of many products and be generous in the consumption of others.


We do not have to stigmatize any food, we just have to know what the basic nutrients are and how we can incorporate them in all our meals. When we think of carbohydrate we usually think of pasta, rice, potatoes, but you have to break that myth, a vegetable is also a carbohydrate. Currently not only the amount of carbohydrate is valued, but how quickly it is digested and absorbed.

Almost all the food we extract from the soil or from a plant or tree that is in the soil are carbohydrates; here we would make a small nuance with olives or avocados that have a high content of fat.

I prefer to use the term healthy carbs and carbohydrates which are not so advisable.

The “not so advisable” are the most refined, white sugar, white flour to be used for breads and pasta, white rice … with this I want to indicate that their equivalent in shell (whole grain, brown rice, in general all kinds of whole grains) are a much more beneficial and complete option. Fiber is recommended forpatients with diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, dyslipidemia and chelating of intestinal toxins. There are many studies showing that patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer have been on poor diets low in vegetables and fiber for years.

With all this we must say that carbohydrates main function is providing us with energy (4 calories per gram) and are necessary, they must provide between 40 and 55% of the daily caloric intake. It is essential to study and recommend the needs of each individual according to age, physical activity, coexistence of a disease, etc.

Butter. Yes or no?

When asked if fat is necessary for our health, the answer is yes. We need fat to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), to build cell membranes, to obtain energy (9 calories per gram), etc. Our brain is made up of 60% fat and cholesterol.

When asked what kind of fat is the most appropriate, we will say that those of vegetable origin are the healthiest: extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, flax oil … Also known as unsaturated, liquid fats, at room temperature.

We will reserve sporadic consumption; therefore less healthy, known as saturated fats, usually of animal origin, butter, fatty cheeses, cream, fatty meats, etc.

Each time we hear more about “trans” fats, which are those coming from hydrogenated vegetable oils, achieving hardening and achieving in most cases a great palatability, although its effect at the level of our health is negative. They are related to the increase of LDL or bad cholesterol and lower HDL or good cholesterol.

Also know that oil, like extra virgin olive oil, if used for frying can fall into the error of thinking that it is a healthy fat but through the heating process we turn it into a product that degrades, becoming highly harmful compounds with oxidant capacity.

How can we improve?

The solution is easy; eat varied and healthy, respect seasonal products. Try to eat less manufactured products. Vegetables, legumes and fruit on a daily basis. Limit processed products, include high quality protein. Use raw virgin olive oil to dress salads and vegetables.

Use whole grains as much as possible, avoid white sugar, we have to be aware that many types food contain mixed sugars without being able to perceive them like crisps, roasted nuts roasted etc …

Health begins with oneself, respecting oneself, respecting the Environment

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