Foods as Medicine
We often talk about food as it relates to losing or gaining weight. In addition we have discussed foods for energy and foods for pleasure and face entertainment. One area we have not spoken much about is food as medicine. Cancer is the nation’s second leading cause of death, exceeded only by heart disease. Experts blame one-third of all cancers on diet and lifestyle choices. From all the media attention, we should know by now that many lifestyle and diet choices can actually contribute to and increase our vulnerability to cancer. However, emerging research suggests that some foods may actually help to prevent cancer.
Amazing to believe, in spite of tobacco causing 30% of cancer deaths in the U.S. one in five adults still choose to smoke. You may wonder; what are they thinking? According to the American Cancer Society an additional 30% or more of cancer deaths are caused by diet and lifestyle choices such as lack of physical activity and the foods that we choose to eat. According to the ACS, for those of us who do not smoke, nutrition and lifestyle choices are the most important factors affecting cancer risk.
In the past, research has been very effective at determining foods that appear to increase our risks of cancer. However, flurries of recent studies have suggested that some foods may actually be cancer fighters. Even though this research is not 100% definitive, these foods offer many other health benefits and are a good idea to add to your diet with the potential benefit of actually fighting cancer.
First things first, eat more fruits and vegetables. It seems like I am always saying this. Besides being cancer fighters these babies are good for you in just about every way. For instance lycopene in tomatoes have been shown to fight pancreatic cancer in men. A diet high in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower has been found to benefit people with genetic predisposition to lung cancer. Many studies have suggested that berries and red grapes may have cancer-preventive properties. It is so wonderful that onions and garlic are linked to significant reductions in risk for colorectal, ovarian, prostate, breast, renal, esophageal, oral cavity and throat cancer. One study found a 55% reduced risk of kidney cancer when men eat 6 servings of fruits and vegetables per day compared to those who only eat 3 servings per day. Green leafy vegetables and root vegetables were seen to significantly reduce the risks of stomach cancer. I only have one thing to say; bring on the salad!
Second in line is calcium. We all should know that increased levels of calcium will reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Now research is telling us that higher levels of calcium will help to reduce the risks of colorectal cancer. Here you might want to bump up your calcium intake with a supplement. The recommended daily intake from the research is 1,200 milligrams per day.
Third are fish and omega-3s. I know, all we ever hear about is heart disease and fish and omega-3s. Well