You or someone you know very well has undoubtedly either had cancer or has died from this ravenous disease. Though chemotherapy and a plethora of pills are used to treat cancer in Western countries, did you know that what you put into your mouth every day can help prevent and fight against it?
What exactly is cancer?
Cancer is a cellular disease. “Cancer” is a term that is used when the instructions that are sent to our cells become “mixed up” and are incorrect. Rather than have our cells regenerate and help support body tissues (as they are supposed to do) some grow and form lumps or tumors, or the cells even spread by entering into the blood stream and travelling to other parts of the body to create more tumors. Though not every tumor is necessarily life threatening (these are referred to as benign tumors as they do not travel throughout the body), malignant tumors are cancerous tumors that invade other body tissues and continually spread, taking over and interfering with our bodily functions. This interference can either cause extreme illness or, in the worst cases, death.
How can a food help me prevent cancer?
There are several nutrients that have been directly linked to both the treatment and prevention of cancer. You will want to focus on eating:
- Carotenoids (i.e. carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, cantaloupe)
- Vitamin E (i.e. beans, nuts, and grains)
- Vitamin C (i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, guava, peppers and oranges)
- Selenium (i.e. Brazil nuts, cereals and grains)
- Fiber (i.e. vegetables, chicken, and cheese)
- Soy Isoflavones (i.e. soy)
- Isothioscyanates (i.e. kale, cauliflower, turnips, collard greens, and cabbage)
- Lycopene (i.e. primarily tomatoes, though to a lesser degree pink grapefruit, guava and watermelon)
- Photochemicals (i.e. garlic, green and black tea, bell peppers, tofu, and flax seeds)
The best thing you can do to prevent cancer is to prevent yourself from consuming any processed foods. Anything that is a synthetic food, has been processed or contains any sort of refined product (especially refined sugars) are potentially cancer causing. The goal is to focus on eating fresh fruit, raw organic vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grain foods and beans.
Avoid soda and high sugar beverages. Focus on drinking at least 8 cups of water a day. Water will not only help keep you feeling full (thus helping also manage your weight and cravings) but it helps flush out the toxins in our body. Water goes a long way in helping us digest foods, lubricate our insides, increase our blood circulation and keep our immune system at optimal levels.
Is there anything else I can do to prevent cancer?
Eating healthy is the first thing you can do to keep yourself cancer free, but it is also important to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Be sure to get outside and “play” for at least 30 minutes a day. Whether your exercise is a brisk walk around the block or a 2 hour work out at the gym, as long as you are keeping your body moving and relieving stress you are preventing cancer. Exercise also goes a long way in helping you lower your stress, which is yet another factor that has been linked to cancer growth.
For further details and advice on how to prevent cancer through diet, speak to your dietitian or physician.