Albert Einstein said “Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.”
A proper whole-foods based diet does more than keep you healthy, it can also help your body actively fight against cancer and prevent its development. With more and more people in the US getting diagnosed with cancer each year, it’s vital to know how you can best prevent cancer with your lifestyle, especially your diet!
In the US, the probability of being diagnosed with cancer is almost 40%, and it’s slightly higher for men than it is for women, as reported by the American Cancer Society. About 4,700 people are diagnosed with cancer each day in the US, and many of those diagnoses are due to lifestyle choices which give rise to cancer development.
Research has shown time and time again that a varied plant-based diet can help prevent and at times, even reverse cancer. But where do you even begin? Today, we’ve outlined six foods you can prioritize in your daily meals to fight cancer:
You might remember the childhood song that starts with “Beans, beans, the magical fruit…” Well, beans obviously are not a fruit, but their fiber content will certainly get your digestive tract moving as the lyrics of the song allude to.
Increased fiber intake has been linked to decreased rates of colon, prostate, and breast cancer. One study even connected eating lentils and beans to reduced risk of cancers anywhere on the digestive tract (mouth, stomach, colon, rectum). Legumes also include folate, lignans, and saponins, and other phytochemicals important to maintaining your health!
Leafy Vegetables—Anything colorful in the produce aisle!
Vegetables like kale, collards, spinach, and other greens are high in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. Both of these have been shown to slow or prevent cancer development in its early stages. The compounds which give these veggies their dark green hue—carotenoids—have also been connected to a reduction in a variety of cancers.
Having a kale salad, choosing collards as a side dish, or sauteing spinach in with a pasta dinner can give you more of these helpful nutrients, and help reduce the likelihood of developing cancer down the line.
Add in Some Cabbage & Cruciferous Veggies
Cabbage we all know, but you might not be as familiar with the term cruciferous vegetables. Examples of these are broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and many of the dark, leafy greens we just discussed.
Eating cruciferous vegetables has been connected to a reduced rate of breast, colon, prostate, and lung cancer. These veggies contain isothiocyanates (ITCs) which strongly work against cancerous compounds and cells. Other compounds in cruciferous vegetables have also been shown to decrease inflammation and support other processes in the body to fight cancer.
These are some of the best vegetables for your health! Consider roasting cauliflower or broccoli in the oven with a range of spices for a healthy and delicious addition to your meal.
Have a Celery Snack!
This stalky veggie is 95% water, and though the hydration is helpful, the real power is packed in its apigenin and luteolin content. Apigenin and luteolin fight free radicals in the body which can lead to cancer development. Apigenin has been shown to cause certain types of cancer cells to essentially self-destruct, while luteolin has been shown to cut the reproduction cycle of cancer cells!
Munch on some celery with nut butter or have it chopped up in your tuna salad to access these cancer fighting benefits!
Eat more berries
Berries are infamous for their cancer fighting properties! Ellagic acid is found in most berries. This acid slows tumor growth and consequent cancer development. Berries also have a variety of antioxidants, which aid protection against skin, bladder, esophageal, breast, and lung cancers.
Add some berries to your morning cereal or an afternoon smoothie for the antioxidant, cancer-preventive boost!
Spice it up with Garlic & Turmeric
Many spices can be extremely helpful in preventing cancer. Turmeric, a bright orange root typically used in Indian food, has a compound called curcumin which has been linked to decreased cancer risk. Curcumin is most effective from turmeric directly (rather than a supplement or powder), so consider slicing it or grating it in your next curry dish.
One longitudinal study followed over 40,000 women, tracking their diet over five years. The food most highly correlated with a decrease in colon cancer was garlic—women who ate more garlic had a 50% lower risk of certain cancer. It’s believed that the compound diallyl disulfide found in garlic contributes to its anti-cancer abilities. The good news is that you probably already eat a lot of these foods and they’re readily available at your local supermarket—you don’t need to go hunting for them at some small, organic supermarket in your area. There are plenty of ways you can weave these cancer-preventing foods into your diet in a delicious and nutritious way. Get creative and get started today to empower your body against cancer!