The best treatment is always prevention. We’ve all heard that statement, but when in comes to cancer, it cannot be over-emphasized. Once that dreaded diagnosis is made, cancer treatments can be long, harsh, and debilitating.
While nothing can guarantee that you will never get cancer (not even radical Jolie-esque double mastectomies), there is a lot that can be done to stack the odds in your favour.
Good daily nutrition, herbs and nutrients, exercise, and stress reduction will work in synergy to not only help you get healthy but also stay that way.
These are the tools that your body will use to maintain balance, and adequate immune function to maximize your cancer-fighting ability. This is a big topic and I'll be covering different areas over several posts starting with food.
Top 4 Food Tips For Cancer Prevention
Real Food vs. Food-like Substances
Michael Pollan has described the processed, over-packaged, and refined goods we can pick up in supermarkets as “edible food-like substances”.
If that sounds kind of alien, your body thinks so too. I’m talking about the stuff in bright packages, with bold logos, that have mounds of preservatives, artificial colours and flavours, multiple kinds of sugars and starches, salt, and saturated and trans fats.
Get into the habit of reading labels – especially ingredient lists. If there is any item on that list that you cannot picture in an average pantry or in its natural habitat, seriously think twice about purchasing it.
We don’t know what kind of long-term effects all the processed and artificial stuff has on our bodies because it’s all still too new to the human species. What we do know, is that much of the altered food we ingest causes immune reactions in many people leading to inflammation.
Simple sugars and starches feed the bad bacteria in our bodies, also leading to inflammation, and suppress the immune response. Chronic inflammation alone is a definite cancer risk factor, not to mention other preventable illnesses like type 2 diabetes.
Eat real food instead. Food that you can imagine being made or harvested, food that had nothing or very little done to it before it found its way to your hands. Most importantly, eat vegetables and fruits!
Vegetables and Fruit
Let’s get more specific.
- The Cruciferous family (also called Brassica): broccoli and broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, chard, bok choy, cabbage, rapini, etc. Besides being great sources of fiber and vitamins, these vegetables are high in a compound called I3C. This compound has been shown to help the body properly metabolize and dispose of used-up estrogens. If not properly eliminated, estrogen can cycle back into the body and contribute to the risk of estrogen-sensitive cancers.
- Dark-coloured fruits. Examples of those are blueberries, blackberries, plums, pomegranates, acai berries, grapes, and cherries. These fruits are high in damage-mediating antioxidants. The deeper the colour, the more antioxidants.
- Tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. These are very rich in lycopene – a carotenoid that is being widely researched for cancer treatment and prevention.
Fiber keeps your regular, and being regular means you’re eliminating all the waste products your body wants to get rid of.
If your bowel habits are less than daily, your colon is hanging on to potentially harmful compounds much longer than it needs to. This exposes your system to these wastes, supplies fuel to harmful bacteria, and generally promotes inflammation. Remember – inflammation and toxicity are risk factors for cancer.
The best sources of fiber are plants. Legumes such as lentils and beans are rich in fiber and protein while nuts and seeds also have anti-inflammatory fatty acids. A couple tablespoons of ground flaxseeds in your smoothie will give you a boost of fiber, and hormone-balancing lignans.
The compounds found in green tea leaves, called polyphenols, have long been known for their ability to reduce the risk of cancer. Cultures that drink a lot of green tea tend to have lower instances of certain cancers.
Loose leaf, organic green tea is the best way to get the full benefits.
The preparation method is also important. Don’t pour boiling water on the leaves – let boiled water cool for 5-10 minutes before steeping the leaves, then let them steep for 4-5 minutes. If you are not overly sensitive to caffeine, feel free to have several cups each day.
Note: This post is not intended to diagnose. Please be sure to consult your own doctor before beginning any treatment.
Living Well In Motherhood
Green Moms Collective is passionate about living well in motherhood. With a little help from mothers who get it and wellness experts. Get us weekly.