Food as medicine has long been regarded as a sound alternative method to both prevention and healing of diseases. Highly regarded and studied for thousands of years by the Chinese, using food to help heal the body of chronic and acute ailments is now being looked to more and more by modern western medicine. Let's face it. We can't just take a pill and cure a bad diet.
Experts agree that our current diet in the western world is causing a great deal of harm to our bodies because of high saturated fats, salt, sugar, high fructose corn sugar, chemical preservatives, and additives that are so foreign to our bodies that they don’t know how to break them down and cannot utilize them for nutritional purposes. The result is overwhelming evidence of high rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. This last disease recently struck my own family in the form of a diagnosis of colorectal cancer in my step-father. He’s now undergoing chemotherapy and radiation which is prerequisite to his surgery scheduled in 12 weeks to remove the sigmoid colon.
As an alcoholic for almost all of his adult life until 2003, his health already was not good. In 2003 he was diagnosed with asbestos of the lungs (from his years of military service fixing the brakes on large vehicles). Going sober caused his already bad diet to get worse as most alcoholics turn to sweets chock full of sugar to replace the copious amounts of liquor or beer they once consumed. Without a proper diet and already poor health, he was heading straight for danger and it has now caught up to him. He has no family history of colorectal cancer.
This doesn’t have to be you. There are so many great tasting foods that are extremely good for you and help prevent cancer. These same foods can help you fight cancer once diagnosed as well. The body is capable of amazing healing when it has the right ammunition to fight off disease. Below is a list of 27 cancer-fighting foods. Incorporating all into one’s diet does not guarantee you’ll never be diagnosed with any form of cancer, but it definitely helps reduce those odds in your favor.
Caution: When purchasing fresh produce, avoid GMOs, (genetically modified organisms). Read labels and know which companies promote the use of GMOs and which ones are against them. Look for “Certified USDA Organic” or buy local, but be sure to educate yourselves on the farms from which you buy and their farming practices.
From author Melissa Breyer on Care2 Make a Difference (Care2.org)
Anti-Cancer Grocery List
Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower - have a chemical component called indole-3-carbinol that can combat breast cancer by converting a cancer-promoting estrogen into a more protective variety. Broccoli, especially sprouts, also have the phytochemical sulforaphane, a product of glucoraphanin–believed to aid in preventing some types of cancer, like colon and rectal cancer. Sulforaphane induces the production of certain enzymes that can deactivate free radicals and carcinogens. The enzymes have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors in tests.
Carrots - contain a lot of beta carotene, which may help reduce a wide range of cancers including lung, mouth, throat, stomach, intestine, bladder, prostate and breast.
Kale - has indoles, nitrogen compounds which may help stop the conversion of certain lesions to cancerous cells in estrogen-sensitive tissues. In addition, isothiocyanates, phytochemicals found in kale, are thought to suppress tumor growth and block cancer-causing substances from reaching their targets.
Mushrooms: shiitake, maitake, reishi, Agaricus blazei Murill, and Coriolus Versicolor – Mushrooms rock! Love mushrooms! They appear to help the body fight cancer and build the immune system. These mushrooms contain polysaccharides, especially Lentinan, powerful compounds that help in building immunity.
Seaweed and other sea vegetables – Who knew? Seaweed contains beta-carotene, protein, vitamin B12, fiber, and chlorophyll, as well as chlorophylones–important fatty acids that may help in the fight against breast cancer.
Sweet potatoes - Mmmmn, yams! Yams contain many anticancer properties, including beta-carotene, which may protect DNA in the cell nucleus from cancer-causing chemicals outside the nuclear membrane.
Avocados – Guacamole is good for you (also contains tomatoes, garlic, and onions. You’re welcome!) Avocados are rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body by blocking intestinal absorption of certain fats. They also supply even more potassium than bananas and are a strong source of beta-carotene.
Chili peppers - and jalapenos contain a chemical, capsaicin, which may neutralize certain cancer-causing substances (nitrosamines) and may help prevent cancers such as stomach cancer.
Figs - have a derivative of benzaldehyde. It has been reported that investigators at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Tokyo say benzaldehyde is highly effective at shrinking tumors.
Grapefruits - like oranges and other citrus fruits, contain monoterpenes, believed to help prevent cancer by sweeping carcinogens out of the body. Some studies show that grapefruit may inhibit the proliferation of breast-cancer cells in vitro. Certain medications for heart disease and blood pressure do not mix with grapefruit so ask your doctor first.
Grapes - Red grapes contain bioflavonoids, powerful antioxidants that work as cancer preventives. Grapes are also a rich source of resveratrol, which inhibits the enzymes that can stimulate cancer-cell growth and suppress immune response. They also contain ellagic acid, a compound that blocks enzymes that are necessary for cancer cells–this appears to help slow the growth of tumors.
Oranges and lemons - contain Iimonene which stimulates cancer-killing immune cells (lymphocytes, e.g.) that may also break down cancer-causing substances.
Papayas – works like citrus fruits.
Raspberries – like other berries, Raspberries are high in antioxidants. According to a recent research study reported by Cancer Research (2001;61:6112-6119) rats fed diets of 5 percent to 10 percent black raspberries saw the number of esophageal tumors decrease by 43 percent to 62 percent. Research reported in the journal Nutrition and Cancer in May 2002 shows black raspberries may also thwart colon cancer. Black raspberries are rich in antioxidants, thought to have even more cancer-preventing properties than blueberries and strawberries.
Tomatoes - contain lycopene, an antioxidant that attacks roaming oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, that are suspected of triggering cancer. It appears that the hotter the weather, the more lycopene tomatoes produce. They also have vitamin C, an antioxidant which can prevent cellular damage that leads to cancer. Watermelons, carrots, and red peppers also contain these substances, but in lesser quantities.
Seeds & Nuts
Flax - contains lignans, which may have an antioxidant effect and block or suppress cancerous changes. Flax is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to protect against colon cancer and heart disease.
Nuts - contain the antioxidants quercetin and campferol that may suppress the growth of cancers. If allergic to nuts, avoid this one.
Herbs & Spices
Garlic – A natural antibiotic.
Rosemary - may help increase the activity of detoxification enzymes. An extract of rosemary, termed carnosol, has inhibited the development of both breast and skin tumors in animals. We haven’t found any studies done on humans
Tapioca - is derived from the cassava plant. It is one of the many plants that manufactures cyanide by producing a chemical called linamarine which releases hydrogen cyanide when it is broken down by the linamarase enzyme. Spanish researches have been studying the cassava and attempting to clone the genes from the plant which are responsible for producing the hydrogen cyanide and then transfer it to a retrovirus.
Tumeric - a member of the ginger family, is believed to have medicinal properties because it inhibits production of the inflammation-related enzyme cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2), levels of which are abnormally high in certain inflammatory diseases and cancers, especially bowel and colon cancer. In fact, a pharmaceutical company Phytopharm in the UK hopes to introduce a natural product, P54, that contains certain volatile oils, which greatly increase the potency of the turmeric spice.
Red wine – in moderation. See grapes.
Soy products – AVOID GENETICALLY MODIFIED SOY PRODUCTS AS THESE MAY HAVE THE OPPOSITE EFFECT OF FIGHTING CANCER. Look for No GMOs on the labels of foods you purchase containing soy products. like soy milk and tofu contain several types of phytoestrogens–weak, nonsteroidal estrogens that could help prevent both breast and prostate cancer by blocking and suppressing cancerous changes. There are a number of isoflavones in soy products, but research has shown that genistein is the most potent inhibitor of the growth and spread of cancerous cells. It appears to lower breast-cancer risk by inhibiting the growth of epithelial cells and new blood vessels that tumors require to flourish and is being scrutinized as a potential anti-cancer drug. However, there are some precautions to consider when adding soy to your diet. Eating up to 4 or 5 ounces of tofu or other soy a day is probably ok, but research is being done to see if loading up on soy could cause hormone imbalances that stimulate cancer growth. As a precaution, women who have breast cancer or are at high risk should talk to their doctors before taking pure isoflavone powder and pills, extracted from soy. (Read: The Dangers of Soy by Dr. Joseph Mercola)
Green tea and black tea - contain certain antioxidants known as polyphenols (catechins) which appear to prevent cancer cells from dividing. Green tea is best, followed by our more common black tea (herbal teas do not show this benefit). According to a report in the July 2001 issue of the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, these polyphenols that are abundant in green tea, red wine and olive oil, may protect against various types of cancer. Dry green tea leaves, which are about 40 percent polyphenols by weight, may also reduce the risk of cancer of the stomach, lung, colon, rectum, liver and pancreas, study findings have suggested.
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M. Gwynn has authored two books, Harvest and The Cat Who Wanted to be a Reindeer on Amazon.com . Ms. Gwynn also writes for National Animal Rights and San Antonio Sex & Relationships for Examiner.com. She contributes to Open Salon on Salon.com and FE Magazine NY.
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