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Eating healthy is not a diet, but a lifestyle
Al Ries, who was involved in UNICEF's Childhood Obesity Prevention Programme in 2011, noted that a great deal of patients suffering from breast cancer in the UAE are morbidly obese.

Fight the risk of developing cancer by first binning the chips and chocolate in your pantry and loading your fridge and cupboards with fresh fruits and vegetables, organic seafood such as wild salmon, nuts, seeds and wholesome grains.
Bara'a Osama Al Ries, clinical dietitian, told Khaleej Times that it is no secret; a healthy diet is an armour against deadly diseases.
"I go back to the history of the patients who died of cancer and I often discover their lifestyle choices were strong factors leading to their illnesses and eventually leading to their deaths.
"The death rate of cancer patients has increased by 20-30 per cent, and the most common ages are between 50 and 70 years. Many of the patients had a lifestyle that contained little physical activity and a fatty diet. Of course, these are not the only reasons leading to cancer - but they heavily contributed."
Al Ries, who was involved in UNICEF's Childhood Obesity Prevention Programme in 2011, noted that a great deal of patients suffering from breast cancer in the UAE are morbidly obese.
"I advise them to follow a diet that is filled with nutritious food, including fruits and vegetables, wholegrain fibre and fresh fish, similar to the Mediterranean diet."
She added that it is also best to opt for organic produce, when possible, as it contains natural ingredients, and avoid processed foods containing added colour, pesticides, chemicals, preservatives, as well as processed or canned meats.
Al Ries noted that a plant-based diet is important, while adding that red meat should only be consumed on certain occasions, as studies often reveal a correlation between the two.
"Red meat increases the uric acid in the blood, and high uric acid triggers cancer. It also contains a lot of fat, which leads to weight gain, also triggering colon cancer."
Al Ries said her youngest patient who passed away from stomach cancer was merely 14 years old. The young boy did not hold a family history of the disease, but he was morbidly obese.
"He did not live a healthy lifestyle, which unfortunately lead to his death."
Dr Isabel Gerntke also stressed the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle.
"People in the UAE need to go back to the traditional diet and avoid chemical filled foods."
She noted that colorectal cancer is high among Emiratis, which is often caused by a diet that contains too much Western takeouts and too little Middle Eastern traditional meals.
Dr Urgan Ul Haq stressed that it is not so much about educating people on what to eat, but more about providing more varieties of healthy restaurants rather than junk-joints.
"Most of the people in the UAE already know that healthy food is good for them. They know that fruits and vegetables are good for the body. But the problem is that they are more exposed to unhealthy options, instead of beneficial and nutritious ones. Modern unhealthy food has taken over most of our cities."
Besides raising awareness on healthy lifestyles, early detection of cancer and prevention of deadly diseases what must global health organisations consider changing?
A decrease in the number of junk food restaurants, which might be found in almost every corner, and the increase of healthy and affordable alternatives, could perhaps help people make better choices, and even change their mindset between what is a diet, and what is a lifestyle.

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