Aim for fibre-rich diet: Dr Walter Vermullen

Dr Walter Vermullen of Matuaileoo Environment Trust Inc. has recommended a fibre-rich diet if a person wants to get back their normal weight and reduce the risk of cancer.

Making the recommendation in his monthly health column, the surgeon said there is good reason for people to turn to fibre-rich diet.

"Fiber also helps to remove waste from the digestive system which can play a role in preventing colorectal cancer,” he said. 

“Eating a fiber-rich diet can also help you achieve a normal weight, which can also help to reduce the risk for many types of cancer.

Bring on the typical Samoan root crops like taro, taamu, yams and sweet potatoes! And don’t forget breadfruit and green bananas!"

According to Dr Vermullen, the more naturally colourful a person’s diet is the more likely it is to have an abundance of cancer-fighting compounds called ‘phyto-chemicals’. 

He added that the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their bright colours—like beta-carotene in sweet potatoes or lycopene in tomatoes—can also help reduce cancer risk. 

"Cruciferous vegetables, such as watercress, broccoli, and cabbage, have been linked to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, lung, and stomach cancers, while carotenoid-rich vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, have been associated with a reduced risk for breast cancer,” he said.

“Make yourself a daily fresh ‘rainbow’ salad! Enjoy soy! Soy products like tofu, which have been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer and a reduced risk of recurrence and mortality for women, who have been previously treated for breast cancer.” 

Dr Vermullen said tofu is now produced locally and available in some supermarkets and people should make the shift to drop the consumption of processed meat.

“As mentioned above in the IARC study: a daily serving of processed meat, equivalent to two slices of bacon or one sausage link, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 21 per cent. Each 120-gram daily serving of red meat, equivalent to a small steak, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 28 per cent. Do you really want to gamble with your health?"

Dairy products should also be abandoned, says the local doctor who then pointed to studies linking a rise in breast and prostate cancer to the high consumption of dairy products.

“Research funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Cancer Research Fund found that women who consumed one cup per day of cow’s milk increased the risk of developing breast cancer by 50 per cent. 

“Studies have also found regular dairy consumption increases prostate cancer risk. A very simple remedy: use plant milk instead.”

Other items to come under scrutiny was alcohol consumption which Dr Vermullen said should be avoided completely.

Drinking regularly, just one alcoholic beverage or more per day has been associated with an increased risk for colorectal cancer as well as for breast cancer,” he said.

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