Cancer was a disease that’s rarely heard of 200 years ago. Yet with the advance of medicine in the last century, we are experiencing a cancer epidemic in modern societies. What has gone wrong?
The sad news is that cancer, by and large, is a man-made disease, the result of veering too far away from the healthy lifestyles of our ancient ancestors. While avoiding health-sustaining diets and activities, we now embrace a highly unnatural lifestyle and continue to douse our environment and food sources with toxic chemicals. We have shunned our native, whole food cuisine for highly processed fare, engaged in very little physical activity, and led stressful lives. No wonder we are getting sick!
The reality is that you have the power to change all that. By adopting some natural prevention strategies, you can substantially reduce your cancer risk. Diet is clearly the most important factor that impacts your health, but before going into what foods are good for you, you need to know what you should not put in your mouth. You must first stop eating foods that give you poor health or promote cancer growth.
Top 4 Cancer-Feeding Foods
Needless to say, processed foods, fast foods, and soft drinks do NOT belong to a cancer-preventive diet! Apart from these, you should also avoid the following cancer-feeding foods:
This includes all forms of sugar, be it natural or processed. Sugar has no redeeming value at all. The minuscule nutrients present in natural sugars are not enough to overcome the negative effects of sugar. Eating sugar leads to a rise in blood glucose and insulin, and persistently high insulin is a universal mechanism for chronic disease. It kicks up inflammation and it kicks up free radicals associated with cell damage.
All of us carry around microscopic cancer cell clusters in our bodies at all times. But when we are in good health, eat right and have a healthful lifestyle, they remain suppressed. Sugar is the number one preferred fuel for cancer cells. The more you consume it, the faster they grow.
Beware that all complex carbohydrates eventually break down to simple sugars. If you eat too much, resulting in a constant elevation of insulin, the health effect is still negative. Therefore, even whole grains which are supposed to be nutritious cannot be over consumed. The same applies to fruits, which are mainly fructose and glucose. Most nutrients in fruits can be found in vegetables that contain substantially less sugar.
2. Factory-farmed meats
Animals reared in confined animal feeding operations are given antibiotics, growth hormones, and other veterinary drugs that get stored in their tissues. Cows that are fed a diet of corn (not their natural diet) result in higher E. Coli growth in their stomachs, not to mention that the corn they eat are most likely genetically modified.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the detrimental impact of (factory-farmed) red meats on your health, especially in terms of feeding cancer. What’s worse is when you cook the meats over high heat, it creates heterocyclic amines, which further adds to its carcinogenic effect. That’s why having a piece of charbroiled, factory-farmed steak or hamburger is definitely not your idea of a healthy meal!
On the other hand, organically-raised, grass-fed meats are totally healthy and beneficial to your health. They are like two different species in terms of their nutritional content. One is health-harming and one is healthful.
3. Bad fats
Fats are essential for your well-being. Every cell membrane in the body is made out of fat, as is your brain. Bad fats in the diet are a major contributor to ill health and cancer. On the list of fats to eliminate are:
- Fats from factory-farmed animals
- Partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats
- Trans fats
Healthy fats of particular importance for cancer prevention are omega-3 and omega-9. Omega-3 is abundantly found in fatty fish, grass-fed meats, and flaxseeds. Omega-9 is found in olive oil, avocados, almonds, macadamias, cashews, pistachios, and pecans.
4. Xenoestrogens (chemicals that mimic estrogen)
Any item that contains xenoestrogens promotes cancer. Unfortunately, in this day and age, the list is rather long. First and foremost are foods contaminated with estrogen-mimicking chemicals. They include hormones in factory-farmed meats, pesticides sprayed on vegetables and fruits, canned foods with BPA linings, and foods packed in plastics that contain BPA.
Then there are environmental toxins such as those found in personal care products and household cleaners. With personal care products, avoid those that contain parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulphate, petrolatum, mineral oil, and artificial colors. With household cleaners, switch to those that are natural, biodegradable, and environmentally-friendly.
Top 4 Anti-Cancer Foods
The reason why food can have such a powerful influence on serious diseases such as cancer is due to its impact on a biological process called angiogenesis – the process your body uses to build blood vessels. Cancerous cells, like all other cells in your body, cannot thrive without the oxygen and nutrients supplied by your blood vessels. Excess angiogenesis promotes cancer.
Our ancestors intuitively understood that nature has laced a large number of foods that naturally inhibit angiogenesis, rendering them natural “anti-cancer medicines”. Simply by consuming these foods, you can boost your body’s defense system and prevent blood vessels from forming and feeding the microscopic cancer cells that exist in your body at any given time.
1. Plant foods
Plants are packed full of flavonoids (antioxidants), vitamins, and minerals that are crucial to your health. They also have numerous phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that are like natural medicines. Each plant has some anti-cancer properties but some are more potent than others.
Brassica vegetables, also known as cruciferous vegetables standout as they have the most natural cancer-fighting substances – indole-3-carbinol (I3C), calcium D-glucarate, and sulforaphane. Not only do they help prevent the growth of breast, cervical, colon, prostate, and a variety of other cancers, many studies show that they have resulted in dramatic regression of tumor growth.
This family of cruciferous vegetables includes:
Chinese broccoli (gai-lan)
Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage)
Rapini (broccoli rabe)
To reap the cancer-preventing benefits of cruciferous vegetables, you need to eat at least five servings per week. You want to make sure the vegetables are fresh and ideally locally grown and organic. Stir frying or steaming them retains the maximum amount of nutrients. Boiling destroys most of the nutrients.
Beware that cruciferous vegetables also contain goitrogens. When consumed raw in sufficient amounts, they can inhibit thyroid function and make it more difficult to absorb iodine. However, cooking them will destroy most of the goitrogens.
Plant foods that contain carotenoids and lycopene are also powerful anti-cancer foods. Carotenoids are the compounds that give your vegetables the red, orange, and yellow colors. Lycopene is the compound that gives tomatoes their red color.
Curcumin is the principal curcuminoid of the popular Indian spice turmeric, which is a member of the ginger family. It has a distinct bright yellow color and is a primary spice in Indian curry. It is also a principle spice in Ayurveda, India’s ancient holistic health system.
Much research has been done on curcumin’s power to modulate genetic activity and expression, both by destroying cancer cells and by promoting healthy cell function. Curcumin enhances the body’s antioxidant system and is a potent free radical scavenger. This may be the reason why cancers of the breast, colon, lung, and prostate, common cancers in America, are much less prevalent in India.
Turmeric has been used in large quantities as a condiment for thousands of years with no adverse reactions. Studies show that curcumin is not toxic to humans up to 8,000 mg daily. Average intake in the Indian population is around 200 mg a day. If you are looking for a curcumin supplement, make sure it is organic, contains no fillers, and is in a bioavailable form for enhanced absorption.
Flaxseeds are very high in lignans which are capable of inhibiting the growth of estrogen-related cancers in about a dozen different ways, including the exact same mechanism as the anti-cancer drug Tamoxifen and Arimidex. Lignans are also powerful antioxidants that scavenge free radicals associated with cell damage. When eaten, the lignans are activated by bacteria in the intestine. Lignans, however, are not present in flaxseed oil, only in the fiber portion of flaxseed.
Flaxseeds are very high in alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a precursor to omega-3. That’s why they go rancid extremely quickly, so be sure to store them in the refrigerator. They also need to be lightly ground to remove their hard hulls before eating, otherwise, they will be passed whole through your system. Grind them fresh in batches of 2-3 tablespoons in a coffee or spice grinder before adding them to your foods.
4. Vitamin D
In the last 10 years, there has been a huge body of research evidence showing that this sunshine vitamin is an important factor in cancer prevention. Not only does it activates the immune system to work against rogue cells, it can also adjust almost everything in the cancer cell, from switching genes on and off, reduce cell division, to even return a cancer cell to a normal and healthy state.
Most people seldom expose their bare skin (without sunscreen protection) to natural sunlight on a regular basis owing to skin cancer concerns. As a result, studies find that majority of Americans are vitamin D deficient. The only way to know if you have enough D is through a blood test. For healthy people, you want to be in the optimal range of 50-70 ng/ml. If you are being treated for cancer, your D level should be closer to 90-100 ng/ml.
Most people need to take a 5,000 I.U oral vitamin D3 supplement daily to reach the optimal range. Keep in mind that when using a supplement, regular testing becomes even more important to make sure you are staying within the therapeutic range.
Aside from diet, lifestyle factors also have a huge impact on chronic diseases and cancer.
Research shows that norepinephrine, a hormone produced during periods of stress, can stimulate tumor cells to produce compounds that break down the tissues around the tumor cells, allowing the cells to travel to other organs and tissues and form additional tumors, a process called metastasis. In addition, norepinephrine may also stimulate the tumor cells to release a chemical that can help in the growth of blood vessels that feed cancer cells.
Hence, nourishing your emotional health is an important cancer prevention strategy. Optimal health involves addressing and resolving your emotional traumas as quickly as possible. If you find that you cannot tackle it on your own, seek professional help.
Persistent disruption in your circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock, accelerates the growth and spread of malignant tumors. Revise your priorities in life so that you are able to sleep 7-8 hours nightly, preferably from 10-11 pm till 6-7 am. Make sure your room is completely dark and keep the temperature below 70 degrees.
Exercise lowers your risk of cancer by reducing elevated insulin levels, which creates a low sugar environment that discourages the growth and spread of cancer cells. What’s more, exercise improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood. Your immune system is your first line of defense against everything from minor illnesses like a cold to devastating, life-threatening diseases like cancer.