This post is a continuation of yesterday’s Trainer Tip: Foods that Fight Cancer. To read part 1, go here.
Dark Chocolate contains antioxidants as well. According to the Cancer Directory, about 1 ounce of high quality dark chocolate per day (about 1/2 of a small chocolate bar) is enough to reap the benefits.
Foods High in Vitamin D
Vitamin D-rich foods such as eggs, salmon, and low-fat/fat-free dairy also cause apoptosis and a decreased proliferation of cancer cells, according to the National Cancer Institute. The clinical studies were based on women who took about 1,100 IU of vitamin D3, which is about double the current RDA. Many nutrition professionals recognize the need for a further increase in the RDA although it was just raised. Vitamin D3 is associated with improved immunity and is essential for calcium absorption.
Foods High in Folate
Folate-rich foods (foods high in B9 or folic acid) are hugely important in development and maintenance of healthy cells—particularly for women of childbearing years and pregnant women. Besides folate’s ability to prevent birth defects, food such as spinach, enriched whole grains, cereals, and breads play an integral part in cell health for cancer prevention. Folate acts to preserve DNA integrity within cells and may be particularly helpful in the fight against colon cancer.
Fiber-rich foods are often folate-rich foods, like whole grain cereals, whole wheat bread, and enriched hot cereals such as oatmeal. Fiber-rich foods seem to dilute the level of toxicity of certain harmful agents in the body because fiber eliminates toxins from the body at a more rapid pace, giving them less time to do damage. Fiber is thought to fight colon cancer. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, particularly apples, a good source of pectin.
Garlic contains allicin, which has immune-boosting and anti-fungal properties. Garlic enhances the activity of killer immune cells that attack cancer and protect from carcinogens. Its cousins—onions, chives, and leeks—are potent stomach cancer-fighters. It should be noted that, additionally, garlic helps with blood sugar control and may be helpful for those with diabetes or high blood sugar.
Ginger contains gingerol, which is in the tumeric family. It too has the ability to inhibit cancer cell growth and to kill abnormal cells. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for many centuries to cure many ills, such as stomach and gastrointestinal discomfort.
Green tea is abundant in polyphenols that prevent cancer cells from dividing, according to Journal Cellular Biochemistry. Black tea and herbal teas do not have the same effect as green tea, which is about 40% polyphenols by weight. Black tea has a moderate effect, and herbal teas have shown no promise in cancer-fighting thus far. Among its many other health benefits, green tea is known for its ability to help with depression and dental health.
Mushrooms contain a protein called lectin, which hones in on cancerous cells, prevents them from multiplying, and causes cell death. Mushrooms are abundant in immune-boosting compounds.
Nuts contain a host of antioxidants that prevent tumor growth; they also have other health benefits. They contain fiber and healthy fats, which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol. Almonds, pine nuts, and peanuts are rich sources of vitamin E, which acts an antioxidant and cell protector in the body. Brazil nuts are a rich source of selenium and walnuts a great source of omega 3s. If you are allergic to nuts, supplementation is usually considered safe after consultation with your doctor.
Olive oil contains numerous compounds that offer cancer protection as well as overall health benefits. Olive oil is abundant in antioxidants, particularly extra virgin olive oil. Remember to store your olive oil in a dark place and purchase it in an opaque bottle, as light destroys some of the antioxidant properties of olive oil.
Omega 3s were shown in a study published in “Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention” to reduce the risk of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer. Omega 3s can be derived from fatty fish, such as salmon, or be taken in a high-quality supplement that is recognized as pharmaceutical-grade. 1 gram, 2-3 times per day is recommended after consultaion with your doctor. EPA and DHA from fish oil have cholesterol lowering effects and have been shown to improve memory and overall cognitive functioning.
Resveratrol can be found in red wine and grapes. As a fitness/nutrition professional, I would never recommend alcohol to someone who is in treatment for any illness. It should be noted that resveratrol contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals. For those interested in supplementation, doses may vary greatly, so speak to your doctor first.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, which acts as an antioxidant and prevents free radical damage to cells by preventing roaming oxygen molecules from doing harm. Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamin C, which acts as a cancer-fighter in its own right. Recent research has shown that the most benefit is derived when a bit healthy fat such as olive oil is added to tomatoes.
Foods to Avoid
Transfats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils, have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer by up to 40% in women, according to Nutrition Essentials, and should be avoided completely. Trans fatty acids are associated with a slew of other serious health risks, as well.
The issue of whether or not to ingest soy products is still and ongoing debate, especially with hormone-sensitive breast cancer treatment. Many physicians counsel their patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to avoid soy products completely. Soy products have effects on estrogen levels in the body and may directly affect treatment. This is a matter for you and your doctor. I do not advocate soy products as cancer-fighting foods, based on my research.
Please note this is not an exhaustive list. A diversity of healthful foods is important for disease prevention and overall health.