Can food help you fight cancer?

My grandfather died of lung cancer when I was just 16. Clearly, working in a coal mine and smoking 40+ a day did not help the issue, but I also remember never seeing him eat any vegetable other than peas and carrots. We’ll never know if a more varied diet would have helped his body fight off the big C, but it certainly wouldn’t have done him any harm.

My parents and I spent the following few years slowly convincing my grandma that fruits and vegetables were there to be enjoyed and celebrated, not avoided. Fear was the main factor; just a simple fear of the unknown. She hadn’t eaten a star fruit in her 70 years of existence, so why should she now? Well, Grandma, you might just like it: and, you know what, she did.

Grandma just turned 93 this year and eats as varied a diet as we give her (which, believe me, is pretty varied). Hopefully she’ll live another 10 years or so and see her great grandson graduate from high school.

If there’s one thing that’s certain the old adage of eating “a balanced diet, with a plate full of (natural) color” has never been more important than today. There are so many artificially colored and modified foods about, which give little or zero nutritional value; why not just eat the real thing?!

If everyone ate a diet based on the following recommendations, we would have a significantly healthier society, lower occurrences of cancer and heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses, and our health care system would not be in the mess it’s in today.

The American Heart Association, the Department of Agriculture’s Dietary guidelines and the American Cancer Society (to name but three) all give guidelines that are virtually identical:

  • Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Choose healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, rather than saturated fats or trans fats.
  • Select proteins that are low in saturated fat, such as fish, lean meat, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.
  • Opt for healthy sources of carbohydrates, such as whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

The combination of foods that you choose to eat is what makes sure that you have all the vitamins and nutrients you need to make your body, including your immune system, strong – or not. If you eat a healthy balanced diet you should not need to be taking artificial additives, such as vitamin pills, as you would be getting all you need from the natural source.

Your plate should be colorful. The more color the better! Especially easy in the spring and summer months when we have such abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables grown right here, and, as always, local and organic is always preferable.

There is no specific anti-cancer diet that has been proven, but rather many different fruits and vegetables, oils and spices that have individual properties which can help your body to protect itself in a myriad of ways. The only way to protect yourself as fully as possible, therefore, is to consume as wide a range as possible. Don’t restrict your diet to just a handful of items that you have become comfortable with. Expand your horizons, try new recipes, help yourself become a healthier person.

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There are many websites dedicated to enlightening you about the specific cancer beating properties of different foods. Personally I have found www.eattobeat.org to be particularly informative, giving you access to a whole range of food items, in-depth information on the studies done on them and how successful they were against specific types of cancer. It also goes on to give you recipes and guidelines on how to incorporate them into your diet.

There are a few foods which we may all consider eating more of as so many studies have been done on them and they have all been proven to reduce the risk of multiple types of cancer. The first I will mention is what is known as cruciferous vegetables.

Research has shown, through multiple studies, that regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables – which includes cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, radishes, Brussels sprouts and kale – has been shown to reduce the risk of several types of cancer; most conclusively, lung cancer, upper digestive tract cancer and lymph node cancer.

Also any of the acclaimed Superfoods, which are anti-oxidants, such as asparagus, pecans, prunes, apples, cherries, most berries and beans will help an anti-cancer diet. This is due to the very nature of cancer being the attack of cells of the body via biochemical reactions including oxidation. Any anti-oxidation is therefore welcome. This should not, however, form your whole diet to the exclusion of everything else, but it should be incorporated into your daily diet as much as possible.

In light of the prevalence of such a large variety of cancers at this time, it would be wise for us all to be our own Primary Care officials and EAT SMART! Avoid “fast food”, pre-prepared meals, cook from scratch. Get back to basics. Your body and your family will thank you for it.

For more information on how food can help heal you – and a ton of recipes too – check out the Healing Foods book, for only $25 learn how to eat yourself healthy.  Click here to buy

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