Can food help you fight cancer?


We don’t really need science to tell us that the key to a healthy life is making the right lifestyle choices. Common sense, we would imagine, is enough. So why do we need yet another book that urges us to do so? It’s because, as the author Dr Shubham Pant says, “with the advent of the 24/7 news cycle, ‘clickbait’ headlines are everywhere, but evidence which is dependable and science-based” is a lot harder to find. Then there is the morass of misinformation known as social media. If scientific evidence can’t do much against the onslaught of misleading articles and messages forwarded on WhatsApp, common sense has even less of a chance. He goes on to illustrate his point by recounting the time an acquaintance explained to him, a trained oncologist, why so many Indians are diagnosed with cancer, based on information he had received on WhatsApp. Immediately after illuminating the medical professional, the gentleman lit a cigarette. Pant writes, “The irony was not lost on me.”

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Reading Food Matters: The Role Your Diet Plays in the Fight Against Cancer, you may find yourself frequently nodding in agreement, and that is because almost everything that Pant writes, when advising on the right kind of food, is something you would have heard before — eat whole grains, superfoods are a fad, limit red meat, avoid sugar, reduce alcohol consumption, don’t rely on nutritional supplements. None of this is new and yet, astonishingly, we forget it when deciding what to eat.

That, according to Pant, is the decision on which much of our future turns, including the question of whether or not we will get cancer. He admits that while research points to a connection between diet and cancer, there’s no definitive evidence for any one kind of food that can fend off the disease. And, so, he advises to consistently choose food that is simple and real, pitching a strong argument for the inherent defence offered by Indian ghar ka khaana. There’s also a section in which he explains how cancer patients can manage their nutritional needs. Helpfully, there are also recipes, contributed by various food professionals, which drive home Pant’s main point: be sensible and stick to real food.
Pooja Pillai

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