Add this to your diet.
When it comes to preventing common diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, getting back to the basics is key. True health and wellness aren’t tied up in a myriad of powders and supplements. Unlike marketers might have us believe, superfoods are actually just real, whole foods: avocados, wild-caught salmon, eggs, and sweet potatoes to name a few. And although it’s fun and functional to try new potions and powders, these are simply add-ons — it’s what on your plate that matters. Ultimately, health is rooted in eating properly prepared, real food. Unfortunately, we, Americans, are the most overfed but undernourished people in the world. Let that sink in. And while the conversation about accessibility is a topic for another post, that stat speaks volumes. Of the many side effects of poor nutrition, unwanted health issues are at the top of the list, i.e. cancer. Luckily, there are a variety of delicious and economical cancer-fighting foods available. In fact, you may already be eating them. Keep reading below to get the facts and details.
Across varying types of cancer, are there certain, universal foods that are recommended for helping to prevent cancer?
Let’s take a step back — what does food do for our bodies? Among many functions, food fuels our energy, repairs the body, and supports the immune system. Food does this through the inherent nutrients that the body utilizes. Choosing the right food to eat is essential to giving our cells what they need so they can perform their intended bodily functions. When we think about preventing cancer, we need to eat the foods that keep the terrain of our body strong so that it is inhospitable to cancer. To achieve this, I think about a few factors.
Hi First and foremost, how bioavailable are the nutrients? In other words, is the food packed dense with nutrients that our body can readily absorb? These nutrient-dense foods are ones that we as humans have always eaten. Humans have been on this planet for thousands of years and therefore there are certain foods that our body is equipped to eat given a long period of evolution. These foods include grass-fed meat, wild seafood, seasonal vegetables, seasonal fruit, honey, and high-quality dairy. We also emphasize a traditional preparation of foods to further support their nutrient bioavailability. For example, if you prefer sourdough bread because it is fermented to inhibit phytic acid. Phytate is an ‘antinutrient’ that reduces the availability of zinc, protein, and other nutrients. The sourdough preparation improves the ability of our body to absorb the nutrients provided.
What are the staples in a typical diet for overall health, well-being, and longevity?
Well-being and longevity do not just come from good food, but also mental peace, movement, time in nature, daily sunlight, immersive work, and close relationships. In all factors of life, high-quality inputs are paramount to overall well-being.
What are some hormone-balancing foods?
Estrogen dominance is a condition of a person having deficient, normal, or excessive estrogen but little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body. Estrogen dominance is a key causative factor for many breast cancer diagnoses because unopposed estrogen has been shown to stimulate cancer and cause it to grow. Is estrogen a “bad” hormone? No, but it can quickly accumulate when the body isn’t functioning properly, and that’s when the problems begin. Some factors that create this imbalance of estrogen: nutritional deficiencies which are not enough protein and B vitamins, the liver can’t process estrogen, stress and radiation both may have estrogenic effects, xenoestrogens, certain medications, and obesity because fat cells create their own estrogen.
A truly multi-faceted approach is needed to balance hormones but one quick tip in regards to food is to eat enough protein. The liver cannot work right if it doesn’t have enough protein because it needs an abundance of proteins, vitamins, and minerals in order to detoxify used hormones out of the system. If estrogen can’t be detoxified, it recirculates in the body causing dysfunction, and this allows estrogen to build up in the body.
What’s one nutrient-dense food we should be eating on a regular basis?
Liver — our ancestors didn’t just eat muscle meat, but also other parts of the animal. Liver is a superfood that has been forgotten. Liver is high in Vitamin A which is important to the body’s repair process and to skin health.
Which foods to avoid because of their inflammatory markers?
Avoid vegetable oils. Vegetable oils have become a pervasive ingredient in many packaged food in the grocery store. However, some studies show biological damage from excessive amounts of oxidized omega-6 linoleic acid. In one study, mice given a diet high in a fatty acid commonly found in vegetable oil had higher rates of cancer metastasis than the compare group. This may be due to the oil’s impact on mitochondrial function involved in the disease process.
What are the side effects for consuming too many vegetable oils?
They weaken the immune system, can cause hormone imbalance, and are correlated to aging, clotting, and weight gain. They can also damage DNA and can easily become rancid. These are some of the worst oils: soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, and canola oil. Swap them for coconut oil, tallow, butter, olive oil, and ghee.
8 cancer-fighting foods:
While no foods protect people against cancer, completely, there are foods that may help lower the risk of developing cancer, and are beneficial to consume while undergoing cancer treatment. If you are undergoing cancer treatment, consult with your doctor, health care practitioner, or physician before changing your diet.
Dark leafy greens are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Greens contain substances that protect blood vessels and are associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, inflammation, and cancer. In fact, just because of their high content of antioxidants, green leafy vegetables may be one of the best cancer-preventing foods. Studies show that eating two to three servings of green leafy vegetables per week may lower the risk of stomach, breast, and skin cancer.
Given that leafy greens are rich in antioxidants, it’s no surprise that they can work synergistically to remove carcinogens, reduce inflammation, neutralize oxidative stress, and kill cancer cells. Also, several leafy greens, such as kale, and other green vegetables, broccoli and bok choy, belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables. These are all rich in folate, calcium, and more. Although they’re packed with nutrients, they are only consumed in minuscule amounts in a typical American diet.
While eating processed meat, particularly from conventionally-raised animals, they can cause inflammation and lead to colorectal cancer because grass-fed meat has a very different nutritional profile. There is also some evidence that grass-fed beef, in particular, has cancer-fighting properties. Studies have examined three decades of research on grass-fed versus grain-fed beef, found that grass-fed beef has twice the level of conjugated linoleic acids, which may have cancer-fighting abilities, than does grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef also has lower levels of unhealthy fats and higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and E, antioxidants.
Wild Caught Seafood.
Emerging science shows that ceramides, fat compounds found in oysters, appear to “arrest breast cancer cells grown” in lab tests, according to a study released today by Louisiana State. Oysters are rich in iron and healthy fats, and promising research is underway to uncover their full potential to fight disease. Furthermore, wild-caught salmon is an excellent source of astaxanthin and choline, and a very good source of marine omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, and vitamin D. Salmon is also a source of selenium and contains some CoQ10. Most of these compounds have been associated with a lower risk of cancer, including breast cancer.
When it comes to cancer-fighting foods, all vegetables, which includes onions and garlic, are beneficial. From Brussels sprouts to sweet potatoes and mushrooms, the more colorful your plate, the better. Consuming mushrooms regularly is associated with decreased risk of breast, stomach, and colorectal cancers. Studies show that individuals who ate 18 grams of mushrooms about 1/8 to 1/4 cup daily had a 45% lower risk of cancer compared to those who did not eat mushrooms. In fact, mushrooms are the highest dietary source of ergothioneine, which is a unique and potent antioxidant and cellular protector. Furthermore, mushrooms are unique because they contain aromatase inhibitors, compounds that can block the production of estrogen. These compounds are thought to be largely responsible for the preventive effects of mushrooms against breast cancer. White, cremini, Portobello, oyster, shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms all have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
Unsurprisingly, berries are on the list of cancer-fighting foods. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and acai berries are true superfoods. Their plentiful antioxidant content confers both cardio-protective and anti-cancer effects, such as reducing blood pressure, reducing inflammation, preventing DNA damage, inhibiting tumor angiogenesis, and stimulating the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Furthermore, berry consumption has been linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cancers, and cognitive decline. Naturally sweet and juicy, berries are low in sugar and high in nutrients, they are among the most nourishing, antioxidant-rich foods you can eat.
If you needed an excuse to add a bit of raw honey to your coffee or tea, this is it. Published studies show that honey improves immune status, has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, and promotes healing of chronic ulcers. Recently honey has been shown to have anti-cancer properties in cell cultures and in animal models. When possible, include other potent anti-cancer ingredients, like ginger and turmeric, into tea with raw honey.
In comparison to conventionally-raised chickens, pasture-raised eggs are significantly more nutrient-dense. For example, pasture-raised eggs, in comparison to conventional eggs, have 33% less cholesterol, 25% less saturated fat, 67% more vitamin A, two times more omega-3 fatty acids, three times more vitamin E, and seven times more beta carotene. All of these phytonutrients indicate that pastured eggs can be a nourishing choice as a cancer-fighting food. Given that these chickens have space to roam outside, it’s no wonder that their yolks are packed with added nutrients. Pastured eggs are likely the healthiest type of eggs you can buy, but if you can’t get pastured eggs, aim for organic omega-3-enriched eggs.
Seeds and nuts contain healthy fats and are rich in a spectrum of micronutrients, including antioxidants. The nutritional profiles of seeds are similar to nuts when it comes to healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidants, but seeds are also abundant in trace minerals. They’re also higher in protein than nuts, and each kind of seed is nutritionally unique. For example, flax, chia, and hemp seeds are extremely rich sources of omega-3 fats. In addition to the omega-3s, flaxseeds are rich in fiber and lignans. Omega-3s, in particular, is necessary for decreasing inflammation in the body. And we want low levels of inflammation because a variety of cancers have been linked to chronic inflammation. Incorporating a variety of seeds, from chia to sunflower and sesame, is key.
Fruits and vegetables that are rich in cancer-fighting nutrients, and the more color, the more nutrients they contain. These foods can help lower your risk in a second way, too, when they help you reach and maintain a healthy body weight.