body talk: shopping for health

shopping for health

When we get ill, especially with cancer,  it easy to fall into despair and feel powerless. We can become afraid or confused and not know how we can help ourselves to get better. We might worry that it will all become very expensive when we look at costly supplements that promise to combat our health issues.

But the good news is that many foods commonly found in our local shops contain *** cancer-fighting properties. The following foods have the ability to help stave off cancer and some may even help inhibit cancer cell growth or reduce tumour size.

*** Even if you are undergoing treatment, not one of these foodstuffs will interfere with the programme. 

There isn’t a single element in a particular food that does all the work: The best thing to do is eat a variety of these foods. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, there are many nutritional ways you can improve your chances of a full recovery.

Even if you only want to improve your family’s chances of not getting cancer, then read on.

shopping list of health promoting foods

APPLES An apple a day may keep the oncologist away! Naturally occurring chemicals in apples slow the growth rate of human colon-cancer cells and liver-cancer cells. The anti-cancer effect is strongest in extracts made from unpeeled apples, which contain more antioxidant phytochemicals (plant chemicals containing substances that prevent or delay deterioration caused by oxygen).

APRICOT KERNELS contain laetrile (Vitamin B17) which actually destroys cancer cells. This potent substance is found in many other nuts & seeds, even apple pips, so eat them – they are good for you!

AVOCADOS are rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body by blocking intestinal absorption of certain fats. They also supply even more potassium than bananas and are a strong source of beta-carotene. Scientists also believe that avocados may also be useful in treating viral hepatitis (a cause of liver cancer), as well as other sources of liver damage.

BANANAS are a good source of potassium and vitamin B6, but they also encourage production of serotonin, the feel-good chemical compound which can help to defeat cancer.

BEANS are particularly rich in nutrients that may protect against cancer, and are a low-fat, high-protein alternative to meat. Broad beans contain lectin, a substance which can fight cancer. Even the humble baked bean helps in the anti-cancer battle, and is high in fibre and protein. But choose a brand with no added salt or sugar.

BEAN -SPROUTS contain resveratrol which is converted in the body to a known anti-cancer agent that can selectively target and destroy cancer cells.

BROCCOLI, CABBAGE & CAULIFLOWER contain a chemical component called indole-3-carbinol that can combat breast cancer by converting a cancer-promoting oestrogen into a more protective variety. Broccoli, especially the florets, also has the phytochemical sulphoraphane, a product of glucoraphanin – believed to aid in preventing some types of cancer, like colon, stomach and rectal cancer. Sulphoraphane induces the production of certain enzymes that can deactivate free radicals and carcinogens. All cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts, contain two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin that may help decrease prostate and other cancers.

CAYENNE, CHILLIS & JALAPENOS contain a chemical, capsaicin, which may neutralize certain cancer-causing substances (nitrosamines) and may help prevent cancers.

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS or EFAs, are fatty acids that humans and other animals must ingest because the body requires them for good health but cannot synthesize them. The term “essential fatty acid” refers to fatty acids required for biological processes but does not include the fats that only act as fuel. These bring light to our cells as well as a multitude of other health benefits.

FLAX SEEDS contain lignans, which may have an antioxidant effect and block or suppress cancerous changes. Flax is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to protect against many cancers as well as heart disease.

GARLIC has immune-enhancing allium compounds that appear to increase the activity of immune cells that fight cancer. These substances (diallyl sulphides) also help block carcinogens from entering cells and slow tumour development. Diallyl sulphide, a component of garlic oil, but also found in onions, leeks and chives, has also been shown to render carcinogens in the liver inactive. Studies have shown that people who eat raw or cooked garlic regularly, face half the risk of stomach cancer and two-thirds the risk of colon and rectal cancer as people who eat little or none. It is believed garlic may help prevent stomach cancer because it has anti-bacterial effects against a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, found in the stomach and known to promote cancer there. 

GRAPEFRUITS contain monoterpenes, believed to help prevent cancer by sweeping carcinogens out of the body. Studies show that grapefruit may inhibit the proliferation of breast-cancer cells in vitro. They also contains vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid.

Red GRAPES contain bioflavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants that work as cancer preventives. Grapes are also a rich source of resveratrol, which inhibits the enzymes that can stimulate cancer-cell growth and suppress immune response. They also contain ellagic acid, a compound that blocks enzymes that are necessary for cancer cells; this appears to help slow the growth of tumours.

HERBS like Rosemary may help increase the activity of detoxification enzymes. An extract of rosemary, termed carnosol, has inhibited the development of both breast and skin tumours in animals, though we haven’t found any studies done on humans. Other fresh herbs like parsley and basil have high levels of vitamin C and other beneficial properties when used as flavourings or infusions.

KALE has indoles, nitrogen compounds which may help stop the conversion of certain lesions to cancerous cells in oestrogen-sensitive tissues. In addition, isothiocyanates, phytochemicals found in kale, are thought to suppress tumour growth and block cancer-causing substances from reaching their targets.

LIQUORICE root has a chemical, glycyrrhizin, that blocks a component of testosterone and therefore may help prevent the growth of prostate cancer. (However, too much can lead to elevated blood pressure and diarrhoea, so beware.)

MILLET is the only grain which contains no acid. It is rich in phytate. This phytochemical appears to reduce colon and mammary gland cancer in animals – so may play a part in preventing breast cancer.

MUSHROOMS – There are a number of mushrooms that appear to help the body fight cancer and build the immune system – Shiitake, maitake, reishi, Agaricus blazei Murill, and Coriolus Versicolor. These mushrooms contain polysaccharides, especially Lentinan, a very powerful compound that helps in building immunity. They also have a protein called lectin, which attacks cancerous cells and prevents them from multiplying. These mushrooms can stimulate the production of interferon in the body. Extracts from mushrooms have been successfully tested in recent years in Japan as an adjunct to chemotherapy.

NUTS contain the antioxidants quercetin and campferol that may suppress the growth of cancers. Nuts and seeds contain copper, a trace element recognized as important in helping the body ward off colon cancer. A Brazil nut contains 80 micrograms of selenium, which is important for those with prostate cancer. If you are allegic to nuts, you may consider taking a selenium supplement

ORANGES & LEMONS contain Iimonene which stimulates cancer-killing immune cells (eg lymphocytes) that may also break down cancer-causing substances.

PINEAPPLE has a high manganese content, so is good for preventing osteoporosis and bone fractures, but it also contains the important cancer-fighting enzyme bromelain**. This breaks down food and dead tissue and “digests” protein quickly, a key factor in combating cancer. ** Bromelain does not survive processing so must be obtained from fresh pineapples; tinned fruit or cartons of juice do not contain bromelain.

POTATOES contain chemicals that may block cancer. The skins are especially rich in chlorogenic acid which prevents cell mutations leading to cancer. They also contain potassium.

QUINOA – provides phyto-oestrogens. Women who eat the most phyto-oestrogenic foods are four times less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those who eat the least. Two amino acids found in Quinoa, both of which are antioxidants, are Methionine and Cysteine. Methionine is a neutralizer of toxins. Cysteine helps combat cancer, metal toxicity, and skin problems. It promotes wound healing and stimulates the immune system.

RASPBERRIES and other berries contain many vitamins, minerals, plant compounds and antioxidants known as anthocyanins that may protect against cancer.

RED WINE has polyphenols (potent antioxidants) that may protect against various types of cancer. Also, the compound resveratrol is found in the grape skins. However, alcohol can be toxic to the liver and to the nervous system, and many wines have sulphites, which may be harmful to your health. High alcohol intake has also been linked to breast cancer development, so as with all things, moderation is indicated. You might look for organic wines, but for those on a detox NO alcohol is best.

RICE – is a healthy alternative to potatoes or pasta, but BROWN RICE is the one with outstanding health benefits: it contains lots of INSOLUBLE DIETARY FIBRE, which is crucial to good gut health. Evidence suggests that these serve a major protective function in colon cancer. Researchers hypothesize that carcinogens are diluted by fluid, attracted and bound to the fibres, and then quickly excreted as the fibres pass through the gastrointestinal tract for elimination.

SEAWEED and other SEA VEGETABLES contain beta-carotene, protein, vitamin B12, fibre, and chlorophyll, as well as chlorophylones – important fatty acids that may help in the fight against breast cancer. Many sea vegetables also have high concentrations of the minerals iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iodine.

SEEDS All seeds provide phyto-oestrogens – weak, nonsteroidal oestrogens that could help prevent both breast and prostate cancer by blocking and suppressing cancerous changes. Edible seeds like sesame, sunflower and pumpkin are also unrefined seed foods. So are fruits and vegetables that are eaten with their seeds, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwis, courgettes, tomatoes and cucumbers. Even seeds used for seasoning, such as cumin, coriander, caraway, anise and dill seed have phyto-oestrogens.

SOY** products contain several phyto-oestrogens. There are a number of isoflavones in soy products, but research has shown that genistein is the most potent inhibitor of the growth and spread of cancerous cells. It appears to lower breast-cancer risk by inhibiting the growth of the epithelial cells and new blood vessels that tumours require to flourish. **Supplement with kelp or nettle extract if soy is a main protein ingredient as it may inhibit essential iodine absorption. ** ALWAYS buy organic, non-GM products’

SWEET POTATOES contain many anticancer properties, including beta-carotene, which may protect DNA in the cell nucleus from cancer-causing chemicals outside the nuclear membrane.

TEAS: Green Tea contains certain antioxidants known as polyphenols (catechins) which appear to prevent cancer cells from dividing. Herbal teas do not show this benefit, but are very alkalising and have various other benefits. Even ordinary (black) tea contains anti-oxidants.

TOMATOES contain lycopene, an antioxidant which attacks roaming oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, that are suspected of triggering cancer. It appears that the hotter the weather, the more lycopene tomatoes produce. They also have vitamin C, an antioxidant that can prevent cellular damage that leads to cancer. It is concentrated by cooking tomatoes. Scientists in Israel have shown that lycopene can kill mouth cancer cells. An increased intake of lycopene has already been linked to a reduced risk of breast, prostate, pancreas and colorectal cancer.

TURMERIC– a member of the ginger family, is believed to have medicinal properties because it inhibits production of the inflammation-related enzyme cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2), levels of which are abnormally high in certain cancers, especially bowel and colon cancer.

WATERMELON – contains vitamins A, B6, C and thiamin. Studies have shown that a cup and a half of watermelon contains about 9 to 13 milligrams of lycopene. On average, watermelon has about 40 per cent more lycopene than raw tomatoes.

Although this list is far from comprehensive it will set you on the path towards filling your shopping basket with foods that will help to support your immune system.

Once you have started to eat more fresh foods and less refined products you should begin to notice subtle changes which herald an improvement in your health. Your skin will be brighter and clearer; your gut health will improve and any tendency towards constipation will lessen.

You will probably have more energy and feel generally more optimistic. Go on – try it and see, you will be glad you did!!!

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