Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm a lover, not a fighter...usually

The one exception to that is in regards to cancer. I am working on doing everything in my power to "fight it". Over the long haul I hope to drastically increase my health so that cancer doesn't survive in my body. I just read an article put out by The American Institute for Cancer Research about foods that fight cancer. It was somewhat shocking to read an article like this coming out of one of the major institutes. Below is a summary of what The American Institute for Cancer Research is advising....

  • No single food or food component can protect you against cancer by itself. But scientists believe that the combination of foods in a predominantly plant-based diet may. There is evidence that the minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals in plant foods could interact in ways that boost their individual anti-cancer effects. This concept of interaction, where 1 + 1 = 3, is called synergy. (Meaning that the sum of the two parts is more powerful than the two individually- like when I tell you to use turmeric, black pepper, and yellow onions.)
  • Eating a predominantly plant based diet can help prevent weight gain and protect against those cancers whose risk is convincingly increased by higher body fat (cancers of the colorectum, esophagus, endometrium, pancreas, kidney and breast in postmenopausal women).
  • AICR recommends that at least 2/3 of your plate should be filled with vegetables, fruit, whole grains and beans. (OMG! They are so right!) Much of the laboratory research on diet and cancer suggests that eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans will protect against cancer. Scientists are investigating how and why these foods may prevent the development of tumors.
    • Beans
      • The active ingredients in beans that scientists believe may play a role in cancer prevention include: saponins, protease inhibitors and phytic acid. These compounds, called phytochemicals, are found naturally in plants and appear to protect our cells from damage that can lead to cancer. Beans are also rich in fiber. 
    • Berries
      • Berries are good sources of vitamin C and fiber. According to AICR's second expert report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, foods high in vitamin C probably protect against cancer of the esophagus, while foods containing dietary fiber probably decrease colorectal cancer risk.
      • All berries, but particularly strawberries and raspberries, are rich in ellagic acid. In laboratory studies, this phytochemical has shown the ability to prevent cancers of the skin, bladder, lung, esophagus and breast. Research suggests that ellagic acid seems to utilize several different cancer-fighting methods at once: it acts as an antioxidant, it helps the body deactivate specific carcinogens and it helps slow the reproduction of cancer cells.
      • Strawberries also contain a wide range of other phytochemicals, called flavonoids, each of which seems to employ a similar array of anti-cancer strategies.
      • Blueberries contain a family of compounds called anthocyanosides, which many scientists believe are among the most potent antioxidants yet discovered.
    • Cruciferous Vegetables 
      • The cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale. According to AICR's second expert report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, non-starchy vegetables, like those listed above, probably protect against some types of cancers. This protective effect is strongest for cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and stomach. Research on cruciferous vegetables highlights several components that have been linked to lower cancer risk.
    • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
      • Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, collard greens, chicory and Swiss chard are excellent sources of fiber, folate and a wide range of carotenoids (they act as anti-oxidants) which seem to prevent cancer by acting as antioxidants – that is, scouring potentially dangerous “free radicals” from the body before they can do harm. Some laboratory research has found that the carotenoids in dark green leafy vegetables can inhibit the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells, skin cancer cells, lung cancer and stomach cancer.
      • The Second Expert Report also noted probable evidence that foods containing folate decrease risk of pancreatic cancer and that foods containing dietary fiber probably reduce one’s chances of developing colorectal cancer.
    • Flax Seeds
      • Flaxseed is available as flaxseed flour, flaxseed meal (which has the texture of cornmeal), flaxseed oil and whole flaxseeds. The whole seeds are not digested well, so they provide little nutritional or health benefits unless they are ground.
      • Flaxseed is the best dietary source for substances called lignans. Lignans are classified as phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) because they seem to mimic the action of estrogen in the body. Note that flaxseed oil does not naturally contain lignans, although some manufacturers add them during processing.
      • Flax is also the richest plant source of one kind of omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In some studies, this fat has shown promising health benefits, including offering potential protection from heart disease and some cancers.
    • Garlic
      • Garlic belongs to the family of vegetables called Allium, which also includes onions, scallions, leeks and chives. According to AICR's Second Expert Report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, foods belonging to the allium family of vegetables probably protect against stomach cancer. Moreover, the evidence in the report shows that garlic, in particular, probably decreases one’s chances of developing colorectal cancer.
      • The protective effect of garlic was shown to have a dose response relationship. In other words, highest exposure to the food showed the greatest decrease in risk.
    • Grapes
      • Grapes are a rich source of resveratrol, a type of natural phytochemical. The skin of the grape contains the most resveratrol, and red and purple grapes contain significantly more resveratrol than green grapes. Grape jam and raisins contain much smaller amounts of this phytochemical. Red wine also contains resveratrol. However, with AICR’s second expert report noting convincing evidence that alcohol is associated with increased risk for cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx, esophagus, breast (pre- and postmenopausal) and colon and rectum (in men), wine is not a recommended source of resveratrol.
      • Studies suggest that polyphenols in general and resveratrol, in particular, possess potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In laboratory studies, resveratrol prevented the kind of damage known to trigger the cancer process in cell, tissue and animal models.
    • Green Tea
      • In laboratory studies, green tea has been shown to slow or completely prevent cancer developent in colon, liver, breast and prostate cells. Other studies involving green tea have shown similar protective effects in tissues of the lung, skin and digestive tract.
      • Studies that track the diets of human subjects over several years (particularly studies conducted in Asia, where green tea consumption is common) have also associated regular usage of green tea with lower risk for bladder, colon, stomach, pancreatic and esophageal cancers.
    • Tomatoes
      • The tomato’s red hue comes chiefly from a phytochemical called lycopene. Tomatoes have attracted particular attention from prostate cancer researchers because lycopene and its related compounds tend to concentrate in tissues of the prostate.
      • Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, together with a group of related compounds collectively called the “red family,” has displayed anti-cancer potential in a variety of laboratory studies. In the laboratory, tomato components have stopped the proliferation of several other cancer cells types, including breast, lung, and endometrial.
    • Whole Grains
      • The term “whole grain” means that all three parts of the grain kernel (germ, bran and endosperm) are included. Refined grains usually have the bran and germ removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm. Brown rice is a whole grain, white rice is not. Other whole-grain foods include wheat breads, rolls, pasta and cereals; whole grain oat cereals such as oatmeal, popcorn, wild rice, tortilla and tortilla chips, corn, kasha (roasted buckwheat) and tabouleh (bulghur wheat).
      • Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and hundreds of natural plant compounds, called phytochemicals, which protect cells from the types of damage that may lead to cancer. In addition research points to specific substances in whole grains that have been linked to lower cancer risk, including antioxidants, phenols, lignans (which is a kind of phytoestrogen) and saponins.
The moral of this story is that this is a HUGE step for any major cancer association to take; the reason being that there is no money in it for them to promote eating healthy to prevent cancer. Cancer is big business, billions if not trillions of dollars for the big pharma companies. I am not sure when they updated their website with this information, however I am guessing it was recently because this just popped up on my Google Alerts in an article from today. Anyway, I wrote about this in my post Cancer Fighting Superstars about 3 months ago (whoop whoop...I beat them!) But all bragging aside...it is really great that The American Institute for Cancer Research is promoting eating a plant based diet. This what we call PROGRESS!

NOTE: Soy was one of the cancer fighting foods, however if you have read my post about soy...you will understand why I did not include it. And against my better judgement I also included the partabout how the AICR does not recommend red wine ;( (that's me crying). 

Let me tell you my opinion about studies and statistics. (I hope you know by now that I have many opinions and I can't keep them inside of me.) Basically there are thousands of studies done every year, and many times the results depend on who is funding the study and the outcome that the researchers desire. I personally think that the field of nutrition is in its infancy and we don't know everything that happens when we eat all these foods. Researchers have only scratched the surface. I am more impressed with the personal triumph stories that I have been coming across; people who have healed themselves with whole foods and super foods (sometimes in conjunction with traditional cancer therapies like chemo and radiation). 

Each of us are completely different inside. I mean we all have the same organs, but the way each of those organs functions is different. That is why some people thrive as vegetarians, and some people need to eat meat. We are individuals. I can sleep 8-10 hours a night- EASY! I know people who can sleep 5 hours a night and function all day. I'm rambling. Long story short- it is more important to listen to what your body is telling you than to twist yourself up with all of these studies. 

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