I just took a fantastic course called Integrative Oncology put on by the University of Arizona Integrative Medicine and had to share with you all. Now before you say to yourself, "Oh, that doesn't apply to me" PLEASE keep reading. It does apply. Did you know that the food we eat can prevent cancer? Long ago Hippocrates predicted this when he said, "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food."
Again, it was predicted when Thomas Edison said, "The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition."
It is now estimated that 35% of all cancers in the U.S. may be caused by diet (what we eat and what we don't) and has now surpassed smoking which causes 30% of all cancers. Crazy!! In addition, being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for cancer. How does excess body fat increase cancer risk. Body fat secretes cytokines that promote inflammation and inflammation puts us at risk for cancer. Fat also increases estrogen production and decreases immunity. Body fat can trigger insulin resistance raising insulin like growth factors that promote cancer. Ok, enough of the science. What can we do? Please note, all the advice below is evidence based meaning there is research to back this up. This is advice from the ACS Guidelines (American Cancer Society) and advice from U of A Integrative Medicine research. I pasted below an email that I sent to a dear friend who currently has cancer and had questions about supplements and nutrition. After spending an hour writing the email, I figured I would share with everyone.
1. Healthy Weight-Be as lean as possible without being underweight. Studies have shown less cancer diagnosis in those who are lean as well as less cancer spread or recurrence in those who maintain a healthy weight.
2. Physical Activity-try to get at least 30 minutes of day of physical activity. Why? It decreases our stress and it helps us keep a good BMI or body mass index. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise proven to enhance physical strength and well being.
3. Eat Clean-I like the Anti-Inflammatory Diet by Dr. Andrew Weil. This has been well studied for years and proven to show a decrease in heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. In particular:
A. Avoid or Limit Red Meat (pork or beef)
B. Eat organic eggs and chicken if possible for better nutrients
C. Eat 5-7 servings of vegetables per day and 3-5 fruit servings per day. Organic if possible for better nutrition and less pesticide/herbicide exposure.
D. Incorporate cruciferous vegetables daily such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, bok choy and arugula.
E. Incorporate dark pigmented berries daily if possible.
F. Avoid processed foods, nitrates, preservatives, and food dyes.
G. Avoid sugary drinks. Ok to eat fruit but don't squeeze or juice often. By eliminating the fiber when you make juice you increase the glycemic index which raises your blood sugar causing secretion of insulin thus secreting insulin like growth factor which can cause increase in tumor growth. Not to mention that people with diabetes do not fight cancer a well as people without diabetes.
H. Incorporate Healthy Spices in your cooking such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and cinnamon. These have anti-inflammatory properties helpful to all body functions.
I. Include healthy soy foods that are whole soy foods such as tofu, edamame, tempeh or soy milk. Avoid processed soy foods like soy cheese, soy burgers, soy patties etc. Whole soy foods have been shown to decrease risk of breast cancer and recurrence of breast cancer.
J. Green tea-drink 2-3 cups per day (fresh brewed not from a can or bottle)-studies have shown a reduction in cancer and that tea is protective against colon, prostate, esophagus, liver, stomach, breast, pancreas and skin cancer. Multiple studies have shown the catechin intake in tea decreases incidence of digestive cancers (Iowa study) and the China study showed a decrease in oral, prostate, and stomach cancer. This is from drinking tea not taking the supplement (avoid ECGC a green tea supplement that can be hepatotoxic or liver toxic).
K. Dairy-if you do dairy limit to 3 servings per day of full fat yogurt, kefir, or aged cheese.
L. Enjoy fish and seafood 3x per week, in particular salmon, black cod, herring, sardines, and albacore tuna. For pregnant ladies, nursing mom's, babies and young children only 1-2 small servings of tuna per week due to the mercury in the fish.
I hope this helps everyone. I welcome questions, suggestions for my blog, fun pictures of your kids, and recipes that I can share.