Fighting and Preventing Cancer with Super Foods
Cancer is one of the most prolific diseases in the world. A staggeringly large number of people suffer from it and die of it every year. Despite the prevalence of cancer, we only have a limited understanding of the disease and the factors that cause it.
So What is Cancer?
The medical term for cancer is malignant neoplasm. The disease is characterized by uncontrolled division and growth of cells which then go on to develop into malignant tumors. There is also the possibility that caner would spread to different parts of the body via the lymphatic system or bloodstream.
At present, medical science recognizes over 200 types of known cancers that affect humans. However the cancers that are most commonly found in humans are – breast, lung, bowels, uterus, ovarian, malignant melanoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, pancreas, kidney, leukaemia, brain , liver, oral, prostate, and testicular.
The most significant cause of cancers relates to environmental factors which are regarded as being the cause of 80 to 90 per of cases. Of these, 30 to 40 per cent are said to relate to dietary inconsistencies, while a significant proportion of the others relate to lifestyle factors. As there are no current cures for cancer, it is recommended that one maintains a healthy diet and lifestyle with plenty of fresh nutritious foods and exercise. Let’s take a look at some foods which have been found to help prevent cancer from developing.
Broccoli is widely known for its myriad of health benefits. One of its most helpful properties in terms of fighting cancers is its significant amount of sulforaphane content. Sulforaphane is an especially potent compound which increases the protective enzymes produced in the body and reduces the presence of cancer-causing chemicals. Sulforaphane has also been show to affect cancer stem cells which are instrumental in tumor growth. Broccoli has also been found to help prevent breast, liver, lung, prostate, skin, stomach, and bladder cancers.
Brussel sprouts are also a good source of sulforaphane.
Berries are loaded with phytonutrients which are very useful for fighting cancer. Specifically, black raspberries have contain a high level of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have been found to decrease the growth rate of premalignant cells and stop the growth of new blood vessels from forming which would contribute to the growth of the cancer.
Berries (raspberries, goji, blue berries, acai and strawberries) also help in fighting a number of other cancers such as colon, esophageal, oral, and skin cancers.
Eat them fresh, add them to bio yogurt as a snack, put them in your smoothies. Berries can be consumed fresh (for maximum effect) or via freeze dried powders which can be added to your breakfast cereals, smoothies, granola bars and yogurt.
Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, which is a carotenoid that gives them their trademark red color. Lycopene has been shown in studies, to be very helpful in fighting endometrial cancers, a significant cause of death in women today. The best way to get the most out of tomatoes is to cook them. The cooking process leads to the release of lycopene in its most activated form i.e. it can be more easily absorbed by the body. Lycopene has been found to help prevent cancer in the prostate and stomach.
Walnuts are high in phytosterols which are similar to healthy cholesterol in their chemical composition. They have been clinically shown to inhibit oestrogen receptors in breast cancer cells and thereby lead to reduction in cell growth. Choose organic pesticide free sources if possible.
Garlic is a popular seasoning in many dishes and cuisines. It has also recognized as a superfood for its various benefits. The phytochemical content of garlic reduces the formation of nitrosamines, carcinogens formed in the stomach and in the intestines. A study conducted in the United States showed that women who consume garlic on a regular basis had a 50 percent lower risk of developing colon cancers. Additionally, it also helps in reducing in the risk of breast, colon, esophageal, and stomach cancers.
The phytochemical content of garlic is highest in fresh garlic, however for those that do not like the taste or would like to increase their intake, high quality garlic supplements are available.
Studies have shown that eating bean or legumes can increase fatty acid butyrate levels – which provide protection against cancer growth.
Improving your cancer prevention diet: get your 5-7 a day
Although we have mentioned some interesting foods that have been shown to help prevent cancer, it is important to have a diet which is rich in a variety of foods and vegetables. Aim to consume 5-7 portions of healthy fruit and vegetables a day.
The other side of cancer prevention is to avoid foods which have been shown to damage our health.
- excess sugar and artificial sweeteners
- processed foods: food that comes out of a container or box!
- foods containing trans-fats: these could include baked snacks, potato chips, donuts, cookies, and fried foods. Always read the label.
- Food containing poor quality saturated fats: excess non-organic animal meats, excess non-organic dairy products
- Excess wheat based products