Cancer Fighting and Prevention Diet (Part 1)

Fresh vegetables

In the current COVID-19 world we are living in, we have to be more vigilant about our health than ever before – the stresses of the pandemic coupled with what’s going on in the environment make us even more vulnerable to sickness and disease. In this blog, I’d like to cover some of the tips to prevent and fight cancer. Given my personal family history and health challenges I’ve had over the years, I’ve researched and even tried some of the more radical cancer programs out there. What I’ve learned takes me back to the basics – focus on EATING lots of clean greens and fruits and whole foods. So, here are some of my recommendations. 

First, let’s start off with what NOT to eat: You’ve heard this already I’m sure, but it’s especially important for anyone dealing with a chronic condition to stay away from processed and man-made foods which are loaded with artificial additives, preservatives, and flavorings.

  • It’s well known that sugar promotes cancer growth and also raises insulin to unhealthy levels so obviously steer clear of candy, cakes, and desserts with white sugar or corn syrup.
  • Also, stay away from white flour which is refined, bleached and devoid of nutrients. 
  • In general, if it comes in a bottle, bag or box, stay away from it as a majority of these are all processed foods.
  • If possible, try to minimize restaurant and take-out foods since you don’t really know what’s in them. They also tend to be loaded with oils and sugars that you wouldn’t normally cook with at home. When you do go out, try to choose carefully – avoid fried foods, skip the bread basket, order more vegetables and skip dessert. 

Shopping:

  • Try to spend most of your time in the fresh produce section of the supermarket. Stick to fruits and vegetables in their whole form. And purchase only organic produce if you can afford it.

Minimize or avoid meat, dairy and most grains:

  • Dr. Dean Ornish MD, a leading clinician in the field of lifestyle medicine and founder of the Preventive Medicine Institute, has conducted studies on the impact of lifestyle on chronic conditions. He advocates that for cancer, it’s best to avoid meat, dairy and most grains. In his research, cohorts that followed a plant-based diet combined with exercise and stress management for a year have shown that they had 8X the cancer stopping power in their cells. It also slowed down the growth of prostate cancer cells by 70% vs. a standard Western diet (only 9%) and reduced PSA counts and progression of early state prostate cancer. 
  • Americans eat way too much meat – it used to be that a steak or a roast chicken dinner was reserved for Sunday evenings with the family or for special occasions. Now, meat is promoted for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I enjoy watching all the cooking shows on ways to cook and serve meat but I try to limit my pleasure to only viewing them!
  • So, if you’re like me and want to have all foods in moderation, treat meat like a condiment and enjoy it periodically. I also opt for more healthy fish choices when eating non-plant-based proteins (wild salmon, anchovies, squid and small scaly fish).
  • There are numerous studies showing the benefits of a plant-based diet for cancer. One narrative article showed evidence-based recommendations for a plant-based diet for general health after diagnosis and carbohydrate restriction for patients with postmenopausal breast cancer.

Increase vegetable and fruit servings:

  • Fewer than a third of Americans eat more than three servings of fruit and vegetables per day. To prevent and/or fight cancer, aim to make organic veggies and fruits the mainstay of your meals. What’s an easy way to get these servings in daily? Try juicing and smoothies!
  • Juicing releases 90% of nutrients in food which is 3X better than if you chewed them. Juicing is the most efficient way to maximize the nutrition out of vegetables and fruits without having to masticate like a cow all day.
  • Here’s what I do when I do a juicing regimen: I make a large pitcher of juice to last about several days (so if I have 4 cups a day, I’ll juice 64 oz each time). And yes, it’s best to juice right before drinking each time but who needs the hassle? Even with the nutrient loss over time, there will still be plenty of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients to fuel your body. I also add lemon juice as a natural preservative.
  • If possible, juice at home as commercial juices may be pasteurized and have preservatives. When I’m too lazy or don’t have time to juice, I’ll purchase fresh juice at Whole Foods or my local market if available, but this is an exception as it can get expensive.
  • Which juicer to purchase? I have both a GreenStar extruder and an Omega juicer which will run you anywhere between $300-$700. If you are on a budget, I read that Juice Man JM800s is one of the highest rated according to Consumer Reports. Check it out for yourself.
  • Simple juicing recipe to try: you can adjust the quantity and ratio to your taste. Just make sure you make enough for two days.
    • Carrots:  High in Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, K, E, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, flavonoids, carotenoids, lycopene and lutein. Carotenoids and vitamin A promote liver detoxification and protect you from cancer. Carrots also have falcarinol which is a powerful antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory compound.
    • Beets: Rich in carotenoids, lycopene, folate, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, A and antioxidants. Also rich in proanthocyanidin which give beets their beautiful purple color. Beets are good for blood pressure and have also been used to enhance athletic performance.
    • Celery: Contains falcarinol, vitamin A,C,K, calcium, potassium and apigenin and luteolin flavonoids. These flavonoids have been shown to block angiogenesis and prevent tumor cells from growing. Research has shown that apigenins can stop breast cancer cells in their tracks. Apigenins are a class of aromatase inhibitors – they inhibit estrogen which curtails breast cancer cell growth. They also activate a tumor suppressor gene making cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy. So make sure to include organic celery in your juice, salad, and meals!
    • Ginger: A powerful antioxidant, anti inflammatory and shown to block formation of tumor blood vessels and inhibit cancer growth.
  • The permutations for juicing are endless – try adding watercress, lettuce, cabbage, peppers, swiss chard, apples and radishes. Adjust to taste – adding lemon juice or apple cider vinegar will often make it taste better. If you can stomach it, add garlic as well (I personally prefer to have my garlic cooked in a meal).
  • Try a green shake: If you find juicing to be a bit overwhelming, you can try alternating juicing with smoothies and shakes. I start my day with a green smoothie which includes some greens (spinach, kale, lettuce, arugula), carrots, celery, ginger, turmeric (always add a pinch of black pepper when using turmeric as it amplifies the bioavailability of the active ingredient curcumin) and a handful of blueberries. I add half an avocado and some organic collagen protein to make it a complete meal. It’s a quick and easy way to get in around three servings of greens as my first meal of the day.

In part 2, I’ll focus on super salads, herbs and spices to boost your body’s ability to prevent or fight cancer.

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