It's devastating news. Cancer. The very word can cause fear in the strongest of people. We all know someone who has dealt with (or is dealing with) some form of cancer. It knows no race, gender, or economic class. Even those who survive are changed by it.
Many people I spoke to about battling cancer said that they felt so helpless, like there was nothing they could do to control what was going on. In fact, there is something that you can do when battling cancer to increase your odds of survival, or for those without cancer, to decrease your risk. Lifestyle, exercise, and especially diet, play a part in your risk of cancer, and all are in your control.
It's been proven that a healthy diet can significantly reduce your risk of getting certain types of cancer. More recent studies have indicated that some foods may aid the body in fighting some cancers. The ten power foods below all contain compounds and nutrients your body can use to increase your chances of survival, and to lessen the negative side effects of treatment.
1.) Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and other vegetables in the Cruciferous family. These powerhouse vegetable have been found to be nutrient dense, contain loads of fiber, and rich in substances that stimulate the bodies ability to break down carcinogens, and protect healthy cells from becoming cancerous. They also help promote liver enzymes that help detoxify the body and possibly aid in blocking tumor growth.
Menu ideas: Chop broccoli and cauliflower into smaller pieces for a great topping for salads. They're also great as a snack with some low-fat dressing to dip them in.
2.) Beans. Besides being protein rich, and a vital part of a vegetarian diet, beans are also rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that attack and neutralize free-radical, which besides being a natural by-product of cellular reaction, are also caused by exposure to environmental factors like tobacco smoke, sunlight,and radiation among other things. Left on their own, these free-radicals bounce around causing damage to your cells. Your body uses antioxidants as a defense against those free-radicals. Beans are a great source of protein and also contain nutrients that help strengthen normal cells, and can aid in slowing the growth of cancerous cells.
Menu ideas: Add black beans and fresh diced tomatoes to an omelet. Top with low-fat cheddar cheese and salsa for a tasty Mexican omelet.
3.) Berries and cherries. Besides being sweet and easy to eat, berries and cherries are another food that contain high amounts of antioxidants (especially blueberries), And other cancer fighting properties. Cherries also contain queritrin, which has also been found to be a potent anti-cancer agent.
Menu ideas: Berries make a great topping to your breakfast cereal or oatmeal. Sprinkle them of top just before serving.
4.) Onions, garlic, chives and other vegetables in the Allium family. These pungent delights are a staple in most kitchens. Foods in this family contain Allyl sulfides that increase the bodies production of toxin eliminating enzymes, and increase the activity of the bodies immune system. Onions have been shown to be effective against a variety of bacteria including E. coli and Salmonella. Studies have shown that diets rich in onions have a lower incidence of stomach cancers.
Menu ideas: Onions and garlic can be added to a variety of different foods including soups, sauces, and pizza. Add raw onion as a topping for salad.
5.) Carotenoid rich vegetables (deep red, orange, yellow, and green). This food family includes carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes, to name just a few. Carotenoids have may protect against rapid cell growth, useful in slowing the growth of the cancer cells. It also has been shown to have properties that help boost the immune system. Theses veggies contain antioxidants.
Menu ideas: Chop and add to your salad for a tasty, colorful addition. Baby carrots make a crunchy snack. Try them with a little low-fat ranch dressing.
6.) Fish (especially cold water fish like salmon). Fish are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids appear to have properties that reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids also restrict the production of inflammatory compounds that aid in the promotion of tumors.
Menu ideas: Try broiled salmon marinated in lemon juice and soy sauce for a delicious alternative.
7.) Tomatoes. Besides the other healthy properties that the carotinoids in tomatoes provide, tomatoes also contain Lycopene. This antioxidant that slows down damage to human cells, and helps restore normal cell communication.
Menu ideas: Fresh, unsliced tomatoes shouldn't be put in the refrigerator. Refrigeration will make your tomatoes tasteless, and will cause the flesh to be a more mealy texture.
8.) Mushrooms(especially shitake). Another on the list of foods that are rich in antioxidant properties, mushrooms help to stimulate the bodies defense system, and increase the production of immune system defenders. A substance called Lentinan found in shitake mushrooms has shown some anti-tumor activity.
Menu ideas: Mushrooms make a great addition to many foods. Add them to omelets, pizza, pasta sauce, and salads
9.) Nuts and seeds (including flaxseed). Along with berries, these are great between meal snacks. Nuts and seeds are concentrated with energy providing nutrients, high in fiber, and contain polyunsaturated fats (the good kind). Flaxseed has moved toward the top of a lot of healthy eating lists, and for good reason. It is a great source of protein and fiber, contains vitamins B1, B2, C, E, and carotene, as well as many other required nutrients. It contains Omega-3 fatty acids, as well. Flaxseed also contains considerable more lignin than its closest than wheat, oats, or soy beans. Lignin is a substance that has possible cancer preventative properties, especially related to breast and colon cancers.
Menu ideas: Almonds make a great grab-and-go snack. Keep a baggie full in your desk drawer for when your feeling hungry between meals
10.) Green tea. Green tea has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. Besides its relaxing qualities, green tea has also been found to contain large amounts of antioxidants. It's a great way to sooth your body and still get a healthy boost for your system.
Menu ideas: Makes a nice, relaxing warm caffeine-free evening beverage.
Beware of cooking the nutrients out of your food. Most nutrients and compounds in foods are damaged by heat, and will lose their healthful qualities. As much as possible, eating fruits and vegetable raw is better.
Remember, there are things you can do to help your body fight cancer. You don't have to just sit back and do nothing. Although eating these foods are not a magic cure, or a guarantee of survival, every positive thing you can do will increase your odds. It's worth the effort.