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Eating to Fight and Prevent Cancer

You already know that maintaining a healthy body weight, not smoking, and drinking alcohol in moderation are keys to avoiding cancer. But if you want to take cancer prevention one step further, experts say you need to focus on eating right.

The average American consumes a Standard American Diet (SAD) which includes foods that are high in animal products, saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates. This type of nutritionally deficient diet is unhealthy and destructive, increasing your risk of cancer, leading to weight gain, and contributing to inflammation and other health issues such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Cynthia believes that people don’t need to die from diseases brought on by poor eating habits. For this reason, our holistic cardiology office strongly focuses on nutrition and combining conventional treatment with complementary therapies for treating our patients.

With our modern lifestyles we are often exposed to multiple carcinogenic agents on a daily basis. It is hence no wonder that cancer rates today are unfortunately soaring. To stay healthy and keep far away from this disease, below is a list of anti-cancer superfoods that should not be ignored:

1. Cruciferous vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, radish and turnips. They are beneficial because they contain phytonutrients, which has been found to detoxify certain carcinogens and help lower risk of cancer. All cruciferous veggies contain cancer-fighting properties, but broccoli contains the most sulforaphane, a particularly potent compound that boosts the body’s protective enzymes and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals. A study conducted on mice at the University of Michigan found that sulforaphane also targets cancer stem cells, which aid in tumor growth. Eat more cruciferous vegetables but particularly broccoli and, add it wherever you can, from salads to omelets.

2. Berries including currants, cherries, cranberries, hawthorn berries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. Berries are packed with phytonutrients and are powerful natural antioxidants, well-known to be crucial in the prevention of cancer. Eat half a cup of berries daily as a snack, rather than a less nutritious sweet, for optimal cancer protection.

3. Greens: Raw, leafy greens are the most nutrient-dense of all foods that contain compounds with potent anti-cancer properties. If you wish to consume at least one leafy green vegetable daily it should be spinach. Spinach is an anti-cancer food because of its richness in chlorophyll and carotene.

4. Garlic contains about 200 biologically active compounds, such as sulfur containing amino-acids, glutathione and cysteine, that have powerful protective functions against cancer formation and growth. In fact, the Iowa Women’s Health Study found that women with the highest amounts of garlic in their diets had a 50 percent lower risk of certain colon cancers than women who ate the least. For the best effect, garlic should be eaten freshly chopped and raw. But if the smell and taste of raw garlic is really intolerable, it could be lightly stir-fried with vegetables, or boiled in soups.

5. Tomatoes can help guard the DNA in your cells from damage that can lead to cancer. This juicy fruit is the best dietary source of the antioxidant, lycopene, a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red hue. Lycopene has been found to stop endometrial cancer cell growth in a study in Nutrition and Cancer. The biggest benefit comes from cooked tomatoes since the heating process increases the amount of lycopene your body is able to absorb.

6. Turmeric: Contains the phytonutrient, curcumin, which has been found to be anti-inflammatory and cancer-inhibiting.

7. Walnuts: Their phytosterols (cholesterol-like molecules found in plants) have been shown to block estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells, possibly slowing the cells’ growth. Munch on an ounce of walnuts a day.

8. Mushrooms: Shiitake and maitake mushrooms, which Chinese and Japanese have been using for ages to boost immunity, help protect against as well as treat cancer.

9. Yogurt: Scientists have found that the active culture of bacteria in yogurt, which is called Lactobacillus, actually helps to fortify the immune system and detoxify many carcinogens. Studies have shown that consuming yogurt triples the internal production of interferon which the immune system uses against tumor cells. Yogurt has also been shown to raise the level of natural killer cells. Yogurt has also been proven to slow down the growth of tumor cells in the GI tract and is able to improve the immune system’s ability to destroy active tumor cells. Choose brands that state “contains live and active cultures” on the package. Avoid sweetened yogurt due to the high sugar content.

10. Beans: particularly pinto and red kidney beans, are outstanding sources of antioxidants and should be included in your anti-cancer diet. Beans also contain fiber, and eating a high-fiber diet (including whole grains, seeds, lentils, and vegetables) may also help reduce your risk of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Add a serving—a half-cup—of legumes a few times a week to your usual rotation of greens or other veggies.

About the author

Dr. Cynthia Thaik, M.D., FACC is a Harvard-trained cardiologist serving the greater Los Angeles community at her holistic health center in Burbank and Valencia, CA. Dr. Thaik is the author of Your Vibrant Heart: Restoring Health, Strength, and Spirit from the Body’s Core. To learn more about Dr. Thaik or the Holistic Healing Heart Center, or to schedule an appointment, please contact info@drcynthia.com or call (818) 842-1410.

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