Diet is a crucial factor in cancer aetiology and avoidance in India. As a fact, the Indian diet is one of the most fascinating diets, with many unique dietary elements that have the potential for cancer deterrence. As development and mechanization continue in the 21st century, India must cope with a transition from the burden of communicable diseases to the burden of non-communicable diseases. An only limited number of well-constructed, potential epidemiological research studies discovering the relationships between diet and lifestyle and cancer have been carried out in India.
Twenty-five centuries ago Hippocrates commented, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food”.
Further study is necessary to assess the impact of different dietary patterns, religious rituals, and lifestyles on the prevention of cancer. Cancer detection and inhibition efforts can have immense advantages for growing countries by decreasing upcoming disease burden while protecting economic resources for desirable improvements in societal structure.
Dietary factors to consider
Diet alterations, cutbacks in physical activity and exercises, and increasing obesity generally follow this transition, especially as urbanization occurs. The following factors of diet and lifestyle most likely pay to the mounting load of chronic diseases in India.
1. Obesity and Physical Activity:
There is a usual tie-up between obesity and cancer sites. This list even includes breast and endometrial cancer. Energy balance is associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. In India, rises in the cases of obesity, central adiposity, and waist-hip ratio associated with urbanization. No major comprehensive research on physical activity and exercise has been done in our country.
2. Vegetarian diets:
As we know, Vegetarian diets have usually been associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer. Hindus being major in number do not include seafood and meat in their diet following their tradition. Case-control studies conducted on non-vegetarian & vegetarian lifestyle and alcohol & tobacco have reported a reduced risk of oral, oesophageal, and breast cancers in vegetarians. Basically, protein sources from pulses and other vegetables show reduced trends in causing cancer.
3. Fats and Fibres:
Studies strongly suggest a relation between the high consumption of saturated fat by Indians has a higher risk of getting cancer. Indian diet has important fat components like ghee, butter, palm oil, coconut oil, etc., Large epidemiological studies have identified a possible association between increased dietary fibre and a decreased risk for cancers of the colon and breast. In India rates of colon and breast cancer are low compared to those in western societies. The Indian diet, which usually comprises enough vegetables, fruits, and fibre-rich grains, may provide some shield against the increased risk for these cancers.
4. Spices and Food Additives:
Indian Ayurveda is associated with over seven hundred plant-based meds which are composed of spices and additives. They are extensively studied on their capabilities to cure diseases. Some of the key spices to consider include turmeric (curcumin), cumin, chillies, kalakhar, Amrita Bindu, and various plant seeds. Indian diet developed long before the timeline is a mixture of several religious and secular beliefs.
Curcumin is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory agent, and chemo-preventive agent with impressive suppressing of blood cancer cells. Experimental data shows tumour suppression. Turmeric also has been found to inhibit strains of Helicobacter pylori in stomach and intestines.
Amrita Bindu is a potent carcinogenic nitrosamine. The chemo-preventive role of Amrita Bindu is by prevention of depletion of vitamins A, C, and E and of the antioxidant enzymes. This prevents the increase in lipid peroxidation of plasma and liver. It also enhances glutathione behaviour in both blood and liver.
Comprehensive studies on spices and food additives have been directed in-vitro and in animal studies. Because of intriguing findings from these studies, there is much scope for future investigations in the mentioned dietary factors in human studies.
Anti-oxidation, anti-proliferation, and repair of DNA damage are certain functions which are solely dependent on the sufficient intake of micronutrients in one’s diet. High prevalence of oral cancer is associated with the deficiency in certain vitamins like A, C, and E. Low plasma levels of vitamin E and b-carotene is seen with precancerous lesions in future cases.
Deficiencies of certain micronutrients like iodine, Fe, and vitamin A are extremely prevalent in Indian children. Among children of six to fourteen-year-olds, goitre, caused by iodine deficiency and associated thyroid cancer, has an occurrence rate of 0.33 to 2.4%.
A study was conducted on Kurchias, a tribal population in Kerala consuming more micronutrients have a low pervasiveness of CHD and other diseases of ageing, cancer, etc., They found that levels of serum vitamins A and E were inversely related to levels of lipid peroxides and CHD risk factors.
Dietary Guidance in India
The Indian Council of Medical Research has delivered material on nutritional needs particular to the population of India from surveys conducted by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad. Survey shows that the Indian diet and nutrient intakes have hardly changed in the last few years. For cancer prevention, the NIN recommends a diet that includes elevated intake of garden-fresh vegetables and fruits, with spices and condiments like turmeric, in ample amounts.
Comparison of cancers in India with the global scenario:
In India, levels for oral and oesophageal cancers are some of the highest in the world. Cancer rates in India are lower than those seen in Western countries. But they are rising with increasing migration of rural population to the cities, increase in life expectancy and changes in lifestyles. In contrast, the rates for colorectal, prostate, and lung cancers are one of the lowest.
Of interest for cancer prevention the starring role of turmeric (curcumin), an ingredient in common Indian curry spice is much researched. Researchers also have investigated cumin, chillies, kalakhar, Amrita Bindu, and various plant seeds for their apparent cancer-preventive properties.
Researches of Indian immigrants in Western countries shows rates of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as CHD and diabetes. These increase dramatically after a generation in the accepted country. Altering diet is among the factors that may be accountable for the changing disease rates.
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Hi! This is Lekha
Pursuing B.Tech (FTM) from NIFTEM
Proactive knowledge seeker always curious to know current buzz in food industry. I love writing. So here i am!