Fight Cancer Naturally with these Foods
December 10, 2018
Cancer is one of the most common diseases worldwide. Approximately 38.4 percent of people will be diagnosed with this condition at some point in their lives. Children can get cancer too. In 2017, this disease killed 1,790 children and teenagers in the U.S. alone.
From genetics to stress, poor nutrition, and cigarette smoking, there are lots of different factors that may increase your risk of cancer. Prolonged exposure to sunlight, for example, is a leading cause of melanoma. Processed meats and red meat have been linked to a higher risk of colon, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.
Some of the factors that may lead to cancer are out of your control. Others, however, are related to your lifestyle habits.
Simple things, such as cutting back on sugar and processed foods, limiting your exposure to sunlight, and losing excess weight, can go a long way toward your health. Certain foods are naturally high in antioxidants and other nutrients that boost immune function and may reduce cancer risk.
Nutrition and Cancer: What's the Link?
What you eat has a direct impact on your health and well-being. Food can nourish your body or leave it vulnerable to diseases. Research indicates that 30 to 40 percent of all cancers can be prevented by dietary and lifestyle changes. Nutritionists recommend eating whole, natural foods and staying physically active for a reason.
A balanced diet keeps your immune system strong, supports metabolic health, and makes it easier to maintain a normal body weight. The antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds scavenge oxidative stress and prevent DNA damage. Furthermore, these nutrients slow down the aging process and improve your body’s ability to fight diseases.
Processed foods have the opposite effect. They weaken immune function, accelerate aging, and increase free radicals in your system. Sugar, for example, has been linked to coronary heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. This popular ingredient triggers inflammation in the body and promotes weight gain, increasing your risk of developing cancer.
In a study conducted on more than 430,000 people, sugar consumption has been associated with higher rates of pleural cancer, small intestine cancer, and esophageal adenocarcinoma. The study took into account all types of sugar, including fructose, lactose, sucrose, and maltose – not just table sugar.
Other studies have found that the risk of developing endometrial cancer is 1.4 times higher in women who eat sugary foods at least three times per week compared to those consuming sugary treats 0.5 times per week. Sucrose appears to be just as harmful as regular sugar.
Most foods nowadays also contain nitrites, nitrates, additives, preservatives, trans fats, and other dangerous chemicals that may contribute to cancer. In fact, many ingredients that are widely used in the U.S. have been banned in Europe decades ago due to their health risks. Ractopamine, bromated flour, brominated vegetable oil, Yellow #6, Red #40, Blue #1, and azodicarbonamide are just a few examples.
What Can You Eat to Ward Off Cancer?
Given the wide availability of processed foods, what can you eat to keep cancer at bay? After all, fruits and vegetables are treated with herbicides, pesticides, and other toxins. Poultry and meat contain antibiotics and growth hormones. Soy is genetically modified and may affect your health in the long run.
The best thing you can do is go organic. If this isn’t an option, you should at least choose organic versions of the foods on the Dirty Dozen List. These are the highest in pesticides and pose the greatest risks. The list includes popular fruits and vegetables like strawberries, potatoes, apples, celery, grapes, pears, spinach, and cherries.
Also, consider following a diet based on foods with anti-cancer properties. Leafy greens, garlic, berries, cruciferous vegetables, and extra virgin olive oil are all an excellent choice. These super foods boast high antioxidant levels and provide your body with the nutrients needed to fight disease and function optimally. Herbs, spices, and teas can help too.
Ready to tweak your diet and stop cancer in its tracks? Add these foods to your grocery list:
Have a sweet tooth? Swap your go-to snacks for berries! These tiny fruits are loaded with antioxidants that protect against cancer and neutralize oxidative stress.
In a clinical trial, the number of tumors dropped by 62 percent and esophageal tumor incidence by 54 percent in mice fed with dried black raspberries. Another study conducted on colorectal cancer patients has found that bilberry extract reduced cancer cell growth by a staggering seven percent within one week.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and other berries contain flavonoids, anthocyanins, and anti-inflammatory compounds. These nutrients protect your cells and tissues from oxidative damage, reduce heart disease risk, and inhibit tumor growth.
Since most berries are low in calories, they fit into any diet. Eat them raw or add them to smoothies, homemade desserts, oatmeal, yogurt, and other healthy treats. You can even freeze them and make delicious ice cream on the hot summer days. Better yet, dip berries into dark chocolate for an extra boost of antioxidants.
Unless you live on a deserted island, you’ve probably heard about the health benefits of red wine. However, this doesn’t mean you need to drink booze to reap its healing power. On the contrary – it’s much healthier to eat red grapes, which are an excellent source of resveratrol, fiber, and vitamins.
Resveratrol, a polyphenol with anti-cancer properties, may inhibit tumor growth and induce cancer cell death. It also protects your DNA from oxidative damage and deactivates several signaling pathways that have been linked to cancer.
Studies also indicate that resveratrol may offset the harmful effects of a high-fat diet, prevent tumors from spreading, and reduce inflammation. Furthermore, the fiber in red grapes will keep your digestive system running smoothly and lower the risk of developing colon cancer.
According to the latest research, nuts may increase survival rates in colon cancer patients. Scientists have found that people who regularly consumed at least two servings of nuts per week after being treated for colon cancer showed a 57 percent improvement in overall survival.
Other studies have linked the consumption of nuts to a lower risk of prostate cancer and reduced mortality rates. Also, it appears that women who eat at two or more servings of nuts every week during adolescence are 36 percent less likely to develop proliferative benign breast disease – which is a major risk factor for breast cancer – than those eating less than one serving per month.
These crunchy snacks are chock-full of protein, healthy fats, and phytochemicals that promote mental and physical well-being. When consumed regularly, they may improve cardiovascular function, decrease inflammation, and protect against diabetes.
Nuts are among the best dietary sources of antioxidants. They boast large doses of flavonoids, ellagic acid, resveratrol, and other beneficial compounds. Plus, they’re packed with fiber, zinc, potassium, copper, and B-complex vitamins. The healthy fatty acids in nuts reduce inflammation, increase satiety, and decrease your risk of cardiovascular problems.
Rich in allicin, inulin, saponins, and flavonoids, garlic has emerged as one of the healthiest foods on earth. Allicin, one of its key nutrients, has been shown to kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading throughout the body.
In a meta-analysis involving 543,220 people, those who consumed large amounts of garlic and other vegetables in the onion family had a significantly lower risk of gastric cancer. However, allicin isn’t the only beneficial compound in garlic.
This vegetable also contains saponins, which further enhance its anti-tumor properties. Inulin, a fiber in garlic, promotes digestive health and restores gut flora while protecting against carcinogens and toxins.
To fully reap the benefits of garlic, consume it fresh – chopped or crushed. This will help release allicin and preserve its nutritional value. Heat destroys many of its antioxidants and alters its chemical structure.
Contrary to what you may have heard in the media, broccoli can’t cure cancer. It can, however, decrease your chances of developing this disease and boost your overall health.
Sulforaphane, an active compound in broccoli, may help prevent cancer and slow its progression. In clinical trials, this substance has led to a fourfold reduction in cancer cells’ ability to form colonies. It also inhibits several enzymes that work against the genes suppressing tumor development.
Broccoli also contains potent antioxidants that protect against DNA damage and rid your body of metabolic waste. Eating this veggie is similar to getting a natural dose of chemotherapy. The same goes for cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous vegetables. These foods are loaded with phytochemicals and sulfur compounds that enhance your body’s ability to fight cancer.
During chewing and digestion, the glucosinolates in these veggies are broken down into nitriles, indoles, sulforaphane, and other beneficial compounds with anti-cancer properties. These have been found to inhibit the development of tumors in the breast, lung, liver, colon, breast, and other organs. Furthermore, they induce apoptosis aka cancer cell death, suppress inflammation, and inactivate carcinogens.
Considering these facts, it’s no wonder why health experts recommend eating cruciferous vegetables regularly. To fully reap their benefits, consume them raw or steamed. Add them to smoothies and fresh juices or salads, puree them, or eat them as a snack between meals. These veggies are super low in calories, so you can enjoy them anytime without feeling guilty.
Craving Cheerios? Forget about it! Breakfast cereals are jam-packed with sugar, artificial flavors, high-fructose corn syrup, and other chemicals that may lead to cancer in the long run. Plus, they contain little or no fiber and provide empty calories.
Whole grains, on the other hand, are chock-full of fiber, phenolic lipids, saponins, lignans, and minerals. Research indicates that eating as little as three ounces of whole grains daily can lower colorectal cancer risk by over 17 percent. Additionally, the fiber in these foods suppresses appetite and increases fullness, keeps blood sugar levels within normal limits, and supports digestive function.
In clinical trials, it has been shown that whole grains can significantly reduce the odds of developing gastric and colorectal cancers. Refined grains, by comparison, have no impact on cancer development.
Make sure your diet includes oat bran and oats, wheat, rye, barley, amaranth, and other unprocessed grains. If you’re sensitive to gluten to have Celiac disease, stick to oats, buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, and millet. Beware that oats may be contaminated with gluten, so check the label before consumption.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Thousands of studies indicate that people living in Mediterranean countries where olive oil is widely consumed are healthier and have a longer life. This super food is rich in monounsaturated fats that help ward off chronic diseases and may protect against cancer.
A meta-analysis of 19 studies has found that olive oil intake is inversely related to cancer rates. The risk of stomach and breast cancers was significantly lower in subjects who consumed large amounts of olive oil regularly. Another study has linked this food to a reduced risk of colon cancer.
Even though olive oil doesn’t kill cancer cells, it protects against this deadly disease. Researchers have attributed these benefits to its high content of oleic acid, squalene, polyphenols, and antioxidants. Additionally, the healthy fats in olive oil protect your heart by reducing bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol levels. Refined vegetable oils have the opposite effect.
Eat Your Way to a Cancer-Free Life
These are just a few of the many foods with anti-cancer properties. Our list could also include citrus fruits, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, tomatoes, flaxseeds, onions, and fatty fish like tuna and salmon. The nutrients in these foods strengthen your natural defenses and may prevent cancer in the long run.
Commit yourself to a balanced diet for life. Eating healthy every now and then is not enough. Make small changes to your diet every day and incorporate whole, natural foods into your meals.
Swap sugar for raw honey, stevia, cinnamon, or fruit purees. Replace processed snacks with veggie sticks, baked vegetable chips, fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds. Drink fresh juices and herbal teas instead of soft drinks. Make one chance at a time and stick to it.