When you use food as your medicine, it is a powerful choice that affects your health every single day.
If your focus is on reducing cancer growth, or preventing cancer research is providing more and more evidence that diet is one of the key factors in reducing your initial risk of being diagnosed with cancer and risk of recurrence.
The American Institute of Cancer Research identified that maintaining a healthy weight and maximizing cancer preventative foods are your best bet for maintaining health after a cancer diagnosis. Here are some of the top questions I hear from patients when it comes to food and cancer:
I’ve heard that I should loose weight after my cancer diagnosis…why?
- Your Body weight can increase your risk of recurrence.
- A high Body Mass Index (BMI) is a known risk factor for cancer recurrence. Check your BMI here: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
Does Sugar Feed Cancer?
- Sugar has an indirect link to cancer growth and recurrence risk. You should know how your body process glucose, insulin, and IGF-1.
- Elevates insulin levels is a risk factor for cancer recurrence
- Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in your blood, and helps sugar get to important tissues like your brain and muscles.
- You can get simple blood tests to see how your body is processing sugar and managing insulin.
- Fasting blood sugar (glucose)
- Fasting insulin
- Hemoglobin A1C.
- IGF-1, a cancer growth factor that is stimulated by insulin.
- With the use of diet, exercise, and naturopathic medicine you can control you insulin response and reduce your risk of cancer recurrence.
Which Foods Increase My Risk of Recurrence?
- Saturated fat increased recurrence in men with prostate cancer; a high fat diet has also been linked to an increased risk of breast and colon cancer
- Animal Fat may increase the risk of cancer more then vegetable fat
- 200% increase in breast cancer among those that consume beef or pork 5 – 6 times per week
- Alcohol less then or equal to 1 serving daily for women, and 2 servings for men
- Increases risk of breast, moth, pharyngeal, and esophageal cancer
- Processed meats
- This includes hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and sandwich meat.
- Limit red meat consumption to 4 ounces per week.
What is a Healthy Diet and how do I pick the health stuff out at the grocery store?
As Michael Pollan says in his book “Food Rules”: “Eat Food, Real Food. Not too much.”
- Don’t eat anything with more then 5 ingredients
- Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot
- Shop on the perimeter of the store
- Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
- Avoid these ingredients: high fructose corn syrup, enriched flour, bleached flour, sugar, and hydrogenated oils.
What can I eat to prevent cancer?
- Eat a plant strong diet
- A low fat, high fiber diet that includes generous portions of fruits and vegetables
- Vegetaraians have about half the cancer risk of meat eaters (Cancer Res 1975;35:3513 – 22)
- Fill at least 2/3rds of your plate with vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and beans
- 30 – 40 grams daily
- Especially reduces risk of colon cancer
- Reduces level of estrogen and decreases risk of breast cancer
- Ground flaxseeds provides the greatest exposure to lignans
- Lowers risk of breast cancer recurrence
- Also protects against prostate cancer cell growth
- Plant source of Omega 3 fatty acids
- Lentils, peas, and legumes
- Contain phytochemicals that protect cells from damage that lead to cancer (saponins, protease inhibitors, and phytic acid)
- Rich source of fiber
- High in vitamin C
- Rich in bioflavanoids which reduce inflammation and cancer growth
- Contains ellagic acid which has been studied with skin, bladder, lung, esophageal, and breast cancer
- Contain phenolic acid, a rich source of antioxidants
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Broccoli, caulifloer, cabbage, brussel sprouts, bok choy, kale
- Rich in glucosinlates, indole-3-carbinol, and isothicyanates
- Help the enzymes that fight cancer cell growth
- In animal models can stop the growth of breast, endometrial, lung, colon, liver, and cervical cancer
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, mustard greens, collard greens
- Rich in fiber, folate, carotenoids, luetin, zeaxanthin
- Research has shown that these foods can reduce the growth of breast acncer, skin cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, and colorectal cancer
- Contains quercetin, allicin, organosulphur compounds
- May slow the development of breast, colon, lung, and leukemia cells
- Grapes and Grape juice
- High in Resveratrol and polyphenols
- Helps reduce genetic instability
- Linked to the reduction of certain cancer types including prostate, breast, leukemia, and lymphoma.
- High in lycopene
- May stop the growth of breast, lung, endometrial, and prostate cancer
- Whole grain
- High in fiber, lignans, phenols, and antioxidants
- Reduces risk of colon cancer
- Protect cells from damage
- Being studied for reducing prostate cancer cell growth
- Rich in selenium
- Support immune cell function that targets cancer cells
- May reduce hormone production that feeds cancer growth
- Rich in Catechins, green tea is the best source
- Can prevent colon, liver, breast, and prostate cancer cell growth
The Cancer Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz
The Survivor’s Handbook: Eating Right for Cancer Survival by Dr. Neal Bernard
Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by Dave Servan-Schreiber
Food Rules by Michael Pollan