Can eating certain foods and avoiding others reduce the risk of cancer? Well…we know for a fact that certain foods are healthier than others, help lower life-threatening conditions, and certain food types help with such things as your brain, hair, skin, nails, and heart, and overall health. That being said, the short answer is ABSOLUTELY! Your diet can most definitely reduce cancer risks!
Combating Cancer Cells
Combating cancer cells through your diet is fairly simple -- but in order to fight cancer cells properly it's important to know some facts about cancer cells and how they are triggered. Basically, it's as simple as this...cancerous cells crowd out healthy cells and cause tissue damage, induce organ failure, and shut down organs, it can cause premature death. The uncertainty about cancer is it can surface when areas of cellular DNA become damaged — for example by eating carcinogenic (toxic) foods. Many factors that contribute to carcinogenesis are associated with an individual's diet. Imagine how eating unhealthy foods over a long period of time can affect your health? Toxins in foods can be the cause of cancer, therefore, by adding processed and chemically induced foods to your system is literally like adding poison in your body! Unfortunately, there are no foods you can consume that will completely protect you from getting cancer, and since cancer is a culmination of many factors, it's not just food intake that you have to be concerned about. What's important to remember though, by increasing certain cancer-fighting foods lowers your chances of developing cancer!
Cancer Prevention Foods
There are many types of cancer prevention foods, and it's likely that you are eating most of them already! Such things as your go-to salad with spinach and kale, various degrees of colors, textures and tastes or fresh mixed berries that are tossed in your morning whole grain cereal. These are small examples of cancer prevention foods!
An interesting factoid is that American researchers and scientists around the world have found that vegetables that contain high quantities of phytochemicals are strong cancer-fighting foods. Such things as dark greens, berries, soynuts, pears, turnips and celery, just to name a few.
What exactly are phytochemicals, aka, phytonutrients? Phytochemicals are chemicals found in plants that protect plants against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Foods high in phytonutrients are things such as, red, orange and yellow vegetables and fruit such as tomatoes, carrots, peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, peaches, mangos, melons,citrus fruits, and berries. Strawberries and raspberries are especially rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and ellagic acid, a phytochemical. Carrots also make the top of the list as they are packed with disease-fighting nutrients. Carrots also contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant that researchers believe may protect cell membranes from toxin damage and slow the growth of cancer cells. They deliver other vitamins and phytochemicals that might guard against cancers of the breast, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and stomach.
Who knew that eating salads combats cancer cells? All the dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, bok choy, broccoli, Swiss chard, and romaine lettuce are high in phytonutrients. Broccoli being the star of the group...and also known as the phytochemical powerhouse, and for good reason! Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, kale, and cauliflower contain phytochemicals called glucosinolates, which produce protective enzymes that are released when you chew the raw veggie, rupturing the cell walls.
Another group that's high in phytochemicals are garlic, onions, chives and leeks. Garlic is definitely the leader in this line up! Its strong odor is a sulfur compound and may stop cancer-causing substances from forming in your body, speed DNA repair, and kill cancer cells! Garlic also battles bacteria including H. pylori (the one connected to some ulcers and stomach cancer), and research suggests it reduces the risk of developing stomach, colon, esophageal, pancreatic and breast cancers. Scientists recommend to get the most benefit, peel and chop the cloves and let them sit 15 to 20 minutes before cooking. That activates enzymes and releases the sulfur-containing compounds that have the most protective effect. The World Health Organization recommends that adults consume approximately one clove of garlic daily to promote good health.
Glucosinolatse are anticarcinogenic chemicals that are effective in fighting cancer cells. They are natural components of many pungent plants such as broccoli, horseradish, cabbage, and mustard. The pungency of those plants is due to mustard oils produced from glucosinolates when the plant material is chewed, cut, or otherwise damaged. Scientists believe that natural chemicals most likely contribute to plant defence against pests and diseases, and impart a characteristic bitter flavor property to cruciferous vegetables. Glucosinolates are various bitter sulfur-containing glycosides found especially in cruciferous plants as mentioned earlier. Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolate compounds, which your body can convert into molecules called isothiocyanates. These have significant anticancer potential and are highly recommended.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omgea-3 fatty acids are key to the structure of every cell wall you have. They're also an energy source and help keep your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and immune system working the way they should. Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, (i.e., herring, mackerel, salmon, and sardines) increases the quantity of omega-3 fatty acids in breast tissue. And higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in breast tissue are associated with a decreased risk of developing breast cancer.
Folate B Vitamin
Folate is an important B vitamin that may help protect against cancers of the colon, rectum, and breast. Foods such as breakfast cereals, whole wheat, beans, eggs, asparagus, orange juice, melons, and strawberries are all high in folate and are easily obtained, which is helpful. If you consider all of that, it basically comes down to any diet with lots of fruits, vegetables and enriched grains is a great way to ensure a cancer-fighting diet!
In conclusion, the bottom line is cancer risk is complex and there's a multitude of reasons why you may get cancer, but certainly based on what we do know is that cancer is influenced by your diet. A nutritious diet rich in foods like leafy greens, citrus fruits, and fatty fish may help reduce breast cancer. It's equally important to limit or avoid items like alcohol, highly processed meats, sugary foods and beverages.
A friendly reminder that regular medical appointments and breast cancer screenings are critical for early detection and diagnosis. 💗