Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide with around 10 million people passing away in 2020 (1) and more than 19 million new cases in the same year (2).
What to do? Scientific studies examined how it is possible to act through diet and lifestyle in order to prevent many non-communicable diseases like cancer. Here are some recommendations developed by Professor Valter Longo thanks to thirty years of research:
- Eat mostly (but not exclusively) vegan, meaning avoiding animal products as much as possible, plus a little fish two or three per week. Choose fish with high omega-3, omega-6, and vitamin B12 content (salmon, anchovies, sardines, cod, sea bream, trout, clams, and shrimp). It is important to pay attention to the quality of the fish and choose those with low levels of mercury.
- If you are younger than 65, keep protein intake low (0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight/ 0.31 to 0.36 grams per pound of body weight). This means 40 to 47 grams of proteins per day for a person weighing 130 pounds/ 59 kilos, and 60 to 70 grams of protein per day for someone weighing 200 to 220 pounds/ 90 to 100 kilos. Consume beans, chickpeas, green peas, and other legumes as well as oilseeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame, linseeds, etc.), nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc.), and low mercury fish as your main source of protein. Above the age of 65, you should slightly increase protein intake, by adding more fish, eggs, white meat, and products from goats and sheep to preserve muscle mass and increase nourishment.
- Minimize and decrease saturated fats from animal sources (meat and cheese) and plant sources as well as sugar, while maximizing good fats and complex carbs. Eat whole grains and high quantities of vegetables (tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, legumes, etc.) together with generous amounts of olive oil (3 tablespoons per day) and nuts (1 ounce,/28 grams, per day), always being careful to avoiding intolerances and allergies (to tomatoes, nuts, eggplants, etc.).
- Follow a diet with high vitamin and mineral content, supplemented with a multivitamin buffer every three days. Theoretically a diet rich in vegetables, fish, nuts, and whole grains is the ideal way to get them, but most people have deficiencies and supplementation may be helpful. My recommendation is to take a multivitamin that is produced by a reputable company and contains at least vitamin A, D, E, magnesium, calcium, potassium, or vitamin K. I suggest taking them every two to three days to minimize the chance of a toxic effect, while still avoiding malnourishment due to a lack of a particular vitamin or mineral.
- Select healthy ingredients among those discussed in this book that your ancestors would have eaten frequently.
- Based on your weight, age, and abdominal circumference, decide whether to have two or three meals per day, depending on what it is possible for you. If you are overweight or tend to gain weight easily, consume two meals a day: breakfast and either lunch or dinner, plus two low-sugar (less than 5 grams) snacks with fewer than 100 calories each. If you are already at a normal weight, or if you tend to lose weight easily or are over 65 and of normal weight, eat three meals a day and one low-sugar (less than 3 grams to maximum 10 grams) snack with fewer than 100 calories.
- Confine all eating within a twelve-hour period; for example, start after 8 a.m. and end before 8 p.m. Don’t eat anything within three to four hours of bedtime.
- Consider between 2 and 12 fasting-mimicking diet per year depending on the needs.
- Prefer organic food with no pesticides and antibiotics.
- A maximum of 3-5 glasses of (preferably red) wine or beer/per week for people not at risk.
- Exercising is important; the next chapter is dedicated to physical activity to prevent cancers.
This information is intended for general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice related to particular medical conditions. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your specific situation and if you suffer from any medical condition, please consult your health care practitioner (doctor and nutritionist).
In case of need, you can contact the nutritionists at Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus, specialized in the assistance of patients and specialized doctors, to complete standard therapies with innovative and integrated interventions provided with solid scientific bases, as well as providing advice to those who want to live long. and healthy. [email protected] .
- Ferlay J, Ervik M, Lam F, Colombet M, Mery L, Piñeros M, et al. Global Cancer Observatory: Cancer Today. Lyon: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2020 (https://gco.iarc.fr/today, accessed February 2021)
- International Agency for Cancer Research. “Estimated Number of New Cases in 2020, Worldwide, Both Sexes, All Ages.” Link qui
- “Le statistiche del cancro”. 25.10.2021. Link qui.
- Longo, Valter. “Il cancro a digiuno”. Milano: Vallardi, 2021