As you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a very painful time of the year for many among us, as most have been touched by breast cancer or another form of cancer in our lifetime. Whether it be yourself, a sister, mother, daughter, father, or friend, the pain of all cancer is inescapable in our modern world. There are millions fighting breast cancer as we speak and many more whose memory is cherished and honored by those who are left behind.
The clients I have worked with who have been afflicted with breast cancer or another form of cancer have always made it very clear to me: exercise and eating healthfully literally saves their lives on a physical and emotional level. I have known far too many who have suffered, and this subject is very close to my heart. I have learned everything I can to help both on the fitness and on the nutrition fronts in the ongoing fight against cancer.
There many foods that we know help in this battle. Some you may already know of, and some may surprise you with their cancer-fighting properties. Most are foods I already recommend to my clients for health, wellness, energy, and fat-burning benefits. My findings are based on many peer-reviewed studies and years of research, but, as always, please consult with your doctor before making any dramatic changes to your diet or lifestyle.
Hippocrates, the ancient Greek philosopher and father of modern medicine, once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.” Hippocrates was the first to publicly proclaim that disease was not the result of a punishment or wrath from an angry deity. He believed disease was a result of environmental factors, lifestyle, and diet. While genetic dispositions are a huge factor, one thing is for sure: what we put into our bodies today will affect our bodies tomorrow. While there is no substitute for working with a specialist in modern medicine concerning all health issues, there are things you can do to take make a huge impact on your future health. Regular exercise and activity is one; eating healthful, nourishing foods is another.
According the National Cancer Institute, antioxidants may slow or possibly even prevent the development of cancer. The following foods have incredible vitamin and mineral profiles, and their antioxidant levels are one of the reasons many of them are considered to be cancer-fighting foods. Antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals by lending them an oxygen molecule, which may prevent cell damage and impede or prohibit the growth of cancer cells.
As the saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” Apples have been the subject of much research, and Cornell researchers found that apple peels contain triterpenoids, which either inhibit and kill cancer cells. The fruit of the apple also has compounds with anti-proliferation activities where cancer cells are concerned. Apples are noted to be particularly beneficial for fighting breast and colon cancers.
Avocados are a miracle fruit with vitamins A, C, E, K, potassium, fiber, folate (B9), and healthy monounsaturated fats. They also contain glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that protects against free radicals in the body. Its ability to act as a cancer-fighting food comes from its incredible nutritional profile.
Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries have long been recognized as antioxidant powerhouses with their abundant vitamin profile, particularly vitamin C. Raspberries have been shown to decrease cancer cell growth by as much as 62%, according to research published in Cancer Research and Journal Nutrition. Black raspberries seem to pack a slightly more powerful punch.
Foods with Beta Carotene
Beta carotene-containing foods, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach offer a powerful cancer-fighting punch. Beta carotene is the chemical precursor to vitamin A production in the body and acts as an antioxidant. Beta carotene-rich foods are a necessary component in a healthful diet. Beta carotene may also prevent DNA damage in the cell nucleus from harmful substances outside of its membrane. However, beta carotene supplements are not recommended and have been shown to have a negative effect, particularly where lung cancer is concerned—so just stick to beta carotene-rich foods.
Brussel sprouts contain high levels of indole-3-carbinol (I3C). In many studies, I3C has been shown to slow tumor development and can possibly prevent certain proactive enzymatic activity that may lead to cancer growth. It has the ability to regulate estrogen sensitivity in the body with anti-carcinogen effects.
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, also have high levels of I3C and are potent cancer-fighters. In addition, broccoli contains over 100% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.
Foods High in Vitamin C
Vitamin C-rich foods—like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, broccoli, and peppers—have a host of benefits, including high fiber and water content. Vitamins C acts as an antioxidant in the body, making it a potent cancer-fighter. Oranges and lemons contain a substance called limonene, which stimulates the production of cancer-killing immune cells. However, you may want to avoid grapefruit or grapefruit juice if you’re taking medication, such as thyroid medication. Check with your doctor if you are taking any prescriptions before consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice.
Chile peppers and other spicy foods (jalapenos, for example) contain capsaicin, which has been shown in research studies to neutralize nitrosamines, thus preventing certain forms of cancer, like stomach cancer.
Curcumin, the principle component of tumeric, has an incredible ability to cause a condition called apoptosis (cell death) and to shrink cell size. Both properties make the curcumin in tumeric a potent fighter of cancer and other diseases.
Tomorrow: more foods that fight cancer!