Fuel is important and our choices in fuel are equally so. In plain terms, our bodies, and the immune systems they contain, are engines, and fueling them correctly is a necessary preamble to fending off a cancer diagnosis. What many fail to recognize is that most cancers function like engines, as well. This means that the “fuel” we put in our bodies ultimately determines whether we’re powering one engine or the other.
Since we know that inflammation and the biochemical balance of our bodies is key to allowing cancer cells to proliferate and grow, one core focus of our food choices needs to be avoiding those which cause inflammation or may stimulate cancer growth. Experts estimate that 30 to 40% of cancers can be staved off by healthy lifestyles and proper nutrition, so integrating proper foods into our diet is critical.
Here are four categories of cancer-mitigating foods worth getting to know!
Eat Your Greens
Eating leafy and dark green vegetables has been shown to stimulate processes in our bodies less conducive to cancer growth and development. Cruciferous veggies contain glucosinolates, along with antibacterial and antiviral properties: all well-known to inactivate carcinogens. They are also rich in glutathione, known as the body’s “master antioxidant,” since it is most lethal to free radicals. Too, the potent chemicals in leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables are processed by our bodies into active compounds—indoles, thiocyanates and isothiocyanates—which inhibit cancer cell growth.
- What to eat: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, artichokes, zucchini, onions and asparagus
- On the go: Juicing vegetables is a great way to enjoy some their best benefits!
- Yum: Hummus or Greek yogurts are great on the fly for a healthy snack.
Bring on the Berries
Along with the vitamin C, fiber, folate, vitamin A and ellagic acid they contribute, berries are positively delicious. Blueberries and blackberries bring the most potent antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals that really pack a punch. While raspberries derive their color from flavonoids that generally promote health and contain ellagic acid, which is currently being studied for its anti-estrogen properties and may be impactful in helping to prevent breast cancer. Strawberries provide folic acid and vitamin C, which may help beat the odds against esophageal cancer.
- What to eat: Eat all berries! Can’t get them fresh? Your local mega-mart likely has them frozen.
- On the go: Blend them into smoothies. Add them to Greek yogurt for an extra cancer fighting boost!
- For kids: Add them to cereals for sweetness instead of sugary alternatives.
Orange to the Rescue
Carotenoids is the family that beta keratin comes from and it is one more super accessible and edible super detoxifier that our bodies can use to fight the risk of a future cancer diagnosis. Though rich in carbohydrates (a word much maligned), studies are proving that the right complex carbs can reduce the risk of digestive tract cancers. The rationale is that these foods contain lots of fiber, which facilitates the expulsion of toxins from our systems.
- What to eat: Carrots, sweet potato, yams, beets and butternut squash!
- Did you know: whole grain foods are fiber-rich, toxin-cleansing carbs.
- Yum: Think about it…who doesn’t want carrot sticks and hummus?!
Don’t be Chicken of Liver
Along with other organic meats, liver is nutrient dense and, as a bonus, chock full of selenium, vitamin B12 and zinc, which cleanse the blood and balance the hormones in our bodies. Be a little brave!
- What to eat: Chicken and beef liver preferably fresh from an organic market.
- Treat yourself: pair these livers with herbs and cancer-fighting veggies
Step Out of Your Comfort-food Zone
Try new things. It’s a great way to see how you can work these great cancer beaters into a lifestyle that fits you! Start simple with juices or smoothies? Explore great recipes that integrate cancer fighting foods. To your good health!