[Ed. Note: For more information, visit Cancer Causes and Prevention for over a hundred articles from many different points of view about the importance of being vegan to prevent cancers.]
By Lori Zito on This Dish Is Veg
Cancer is a disease that, unfortunately, almost all of us have been affected by. Whether it is you, a family member, a friend, or a co-worker, it is unlikely to know someone who has NOT been impacted by this disease. Because of its prevalence, many people have a justifiable fear of cancer. As for myself, I have NO fear of cancer. Although I realize that there are many things out of my control that may perpetuate cancer, I know that there are more things that are IN my control. According to the National Cancer Institute, 80% of cancers are due to factors that have been identified and can potentially be controlled, and 35-50% of these are due to factors in our diet. I therefore choose to harness the power I have to prevent this disease, and I would like to share some simple tips so you can do the same.
We are all exposed to cancer-causing chemicals, whether we like it or not. All of us are exposed to chemicals in the air, in water, in food, and in household products, not to mention the carcinogens produced within our bodies as a part of our metabolic processes. While we can, and certainly should, attempt to minimize our exposure to carcinogens, we can also bulk up our defenses against these assaults by including generous amounts of cancer protective foods in our diet.
Take action against cancer by following these simple rules:
• Eat a rainbow of food: Antioxidants are substances that prevent damage to cells caused by free radicals. Antioxidants also turn free radicals into waste by products, and eventually eliminate them from the body. Antioxidants are abundant in fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts. Flavonoids are the biggest class of antioxidants. Flavonoids are responsible for the beautiful plant colors that we see in nature, and they are present in all plants. To get your fill of a variety of antioxidants and flavonoids, be sure to eat a rainbow of color in the form of whole, fresh plant foods. Some powerhouse examples are blueberries, tomatoes, lemons, garlic, and spinach.
• Eat a fiber rich diet: Fiber greatly speeds the passage of food through the colon, effectively removing carcinogens. Fiber actually changes the type of bacteria that is present in the intestine, so there is reduced production of carcinogenic secondary bile acids. Studies have shown that stomach cancer and breast cancer are less common on high-fiber diets. Fiber affects levels of estrogens in the body. Estrogens are normally secreted into the intestine, where the fiber binds with the hormone and moves it out of the body. Without adequate fiber, the estrogen can be reabsorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream. High levels of estrogen are linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. The US, and other Western nations whose diets are the highest in animal based foods, also have the highest rates of colon cancer. The main point to remember is that fiber is found ONLY in plant foods. Animal foods contain absolutely ZERO fiber, and this includes meat, dairy, eggs and fish.
The best sources of fiber are whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, vegetables, and fruits. For maximum benefit, these foods should be consumed in their natural state (ie. unrefined, unpeeled, raw).
• Alkalize your diet and your life: In 1931, a doctor by the name of Otto Warburg was awarded the nobel peace prize for a discovery he made involving cancer. Basically, he discovered that cancer thrives in an anaerobic and acidic condition in the body, and will not thrive in an alkaline environment. He was so confident of his findings that he finished one his most famous speeches by saying, "Nobody today can say that one does not know what cancer and its prime cause is. On the contrary, there is no disease whose prime cause is better known, so that today ignorance is no longer an excuse that one cannot do more about prevention."
The strongest alkalizing foods are sea vegetables and dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, chard, collards, dandelion greens, etc. The most acidic foods, and thus the ones to avoid, are meat, dairy, eggs, and sugar.
You can also alkalize your body through your lifestyle. High stress can cause acidity,while stress reduction in the form of exercise, meditation, and even just simply by smiling, can reduce acidity and promote alkalinity.
• Eat Cruciferous Vegetables: Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and kale are some of the most important vegetables to include in one’s diet. These vegetables have been found by various studies to contain compounds that can potentially treat and lower the risk of developing cancer. A study conducted by researchers from the Netherlands found that Brussels sprouts can protect the body from cancer by promoting proper DNA function. The researchers found that the phytochemicals that are found in Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables can protect the genes from the carcinogenic compound heterocyclic amines which are commonly present in charbroiled and grilled meat.
Additionally, a team of researchers from the University of California found that a compound in cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli, can inhibit the activity of an enzyme which has been found to induce the rapid advancement of breast cancer.
• Use ‘natural’ products: An important point to consider is what you expose yourself to in the form of environmental toxins. Did you know that the average woman exposes herself to 550k chemicals each day?! This is in the form of perfumes, lotions, deodorants, cosmetics, household cleaning products, and even antibacterial hand soaps. Look for products with natural and organic ingredients. You can check the safety of a product at this website: www.cosmeticsdatabase.com
So to sum it up your grocery list should include:
- -a ROY G. BIV array of fresh produce (frozen is fine too)
- lots of dark, green leafy veggies, and some seaweed (nori, dulse, etc)
- High fiber foods (basically any plant food)
- cruciferous veggies
- organic food when possible
- organic, eco-friendly cleaning products to reduce your exposure to toxins
And your grocery list should NOT include:
- highly processed foods
- foods high in refined sugar
And in case you're wondering just how to add sea veggies to your diet, here is one my favorite cancer fighting recipes. It’s simple, delicious and it makes a great meal or snack:
What you will need:
- Nori Paper (found in Asian food aisle)
- Sliced Veggies of your choice (I use a cancer-fighting combo of cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, avocado, and spinach)
Slice the veggies into 'matchsticks,' either by hand or with a mandolin. Then lay your nori paper flat, fill it up with the veggies, and roll it up tightly. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the nori paper to seal, then slice the roll into 3-5 pieces, and enjoy!