Role of Nutrition
Nutrition plays an important role in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Nutrients provide essential nourishment to the body for maintenance of life whereas the nutritional deficiencies can induce premature ageing and suppress immunity of the body causing cancer. The nutrients can be divided into two groups, which include Energy nutrients and Protector nutrients. The vitamins & minerals (such as B vitamins and magnesium), which help in the process of “conversion of food into energy” by activating enzymes, are known as energy nutrients, while the nutrients (such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, Copper, Manganese, Selenium and Zinc), which protect the body against environmental pollutants, toxins and radiation, etc. are called protector nutrients. Most of the protector nutrients act as antioxidants by eliminating the free radicals (highly reactive, unstable molecules that promote cancer growth) that are produced during the process of conversion of food into energy. Nutrients perform specific functions in the body; for example, vitamin C, vitamin E and Selenium protect the body against environmental pollutants, while B vitamins counteract the emotional & physical stress.
Vegetarian diet is rich in fibre, micronutrients and antioxidants. A study conducted on 1200 persons, above the age of 66 years, has shown that the vegetarians have significantly lower incidence of cancer as compared to the non-vegetarians. Another study conducted at the Institute for Experimental Pathology, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany has shown that the blood samples of vegetarians contain higher levels of cancer preventing factors such as Carotene and Glutamine transferase. Moreover, the activity of Natural Killer cells (NK cells) is twofold higher in vegetarians as compared to the non-vegetarians.