Nature bestows us with potential resources to fulfill the requirements of every individual on the planet. Resources generate sufficiently for a country’s economy and raise capital to invest in healthcare. Alongside, they scientifically bless us with natural elements in the form of solar energy, greenery from plants, wind, water, biofuel among many others that are meant to evade or limit the occurrence of a disease. But environmental factors when over-consumed generate pollution paving way for birth of carcinogens. Exposure to chemical substances and radioactive waves alter the cell structure in our body and thus, gives birth to deadly diseases. One such disease sending shivers down the throat is cancer. The disease affects nearly every organ of our body apart from damaging our immune system. But there are some ‘super foods’ to delay the onset and prevent the deadly disease. Let us have a glimpse to the magic of the miracle foods in this article.
Food Choices to Limit Cancer Risk
There is no typical food ingredient that can prevent cancer. But a healthy, balanced combination of food items rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is crucial to maintain a healthy body weight and developing immunity.
Presence of pigments or anthocyanins in berries helps to protect against cancer risk and slow down the aging process. Compounds present in blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and blackcurrants, anthocyanins act as antioxidants and have been explored for years. Anthocyanins are classified as a type of flavonoid; however, little is known about their absorption in the body. Anthocyanins evidently may help to protect against several diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Compound present in wild berry, raspberry, and cranberry in the form of cyanidin was reflected to increase production of SIRT6 cells by an impressive 55-fold. The compound works wonders in increasing expression of the enzymes present in colorectal cancer cells.
Speaking on the right dosage to be consumed in a day, Dr. Chetna V. Jain, Nutritionist based in Bangalore, speaks to Onlymyhealth. She says, “Normally, one can consume 100 grams of berries every day eating raw or in the form of smoothies.”
Broccoli is a rich source of sulforaphane, a plant compound present in cruciferous vegetables that could prevent cancer. As per a test-tube study, amount of sulforaphane subsequently reduced the size and number of breast cancer cells by up to 75%. Higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli is linked to lower risk of colorectal cancer. An analysis of studies indicates eating diet rich in cruciferous vegetables to be associated with reduced risk of colon and colorectal cancer. Dr. Chetna suggests a bowl of bowl of broccoli approximately summing up to 100-150 grams. She adds, “Broccoli can be consumed in the form of soups and salads is definitely a good option. Broccoli has high amounts of fibre in them and have anti-carcinogenic effects and helps to prevent inflammation in the body.”
Studies conducted in Japan, Sweden, Netherlands, and Lithuania including a proportion of more than 200,000 people in different countries have successfully established carrots’ ability to curtail stomach cancer. Research found out the notable benefits of increased carrot consumption to reduce the risk of gastric cancer by 26 percent. Carrots also limit the risk of gastric cardia cancer, a state in which cancer attacks and damages the topmost portion of the stomach, the cardia.
Fresh carrots provide you with 21,383 IU of Vitamin A and nearly 17 micrograms of Vitamin K required for blood coagulation. Highlighting the amount of carrots to be consumed in a day, Dr. Chetna suggests, “Around 200 grams will be a safe amount. Carrots are a source of fibre, Vitamin A in the form of Beta-keratin and a good amount of carbohydrates present in them.”
Compound inositol pentakiphosphate found in beans, nuts and cereals inhibit a similar enzyme (phosphoinositide 3-kinase) involved in the growth of tumour. Findings reportedly published in journal Cancer Research denote a diet enriched with plant foods to limit cancer growth.
Phytoestrogens in the from of plant estrogens included in diets rich in soybeans, chickpeas and other beans help greatly to reduce cholesterol levels and improve arterial functions in women. Beans are rich in fibre which are linked to reduced risk of colorectal cancer. On the mode of consumption, Dr. Jain ascertains, “Beans can be taken in skimmed form and possess a rich source of fibre. You can consume beans with salads or gravy form.”
Consumption of nuts is directly connected to restricted risk of certain forms of cancer. Increased consumption of nuts is associated with limited risk of major chronic diseases and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Recent studies clearly establish the fact that nut consumption is related to decreased cancer mortality. Nuts contain monosaturated fatty acids (MUFA) or polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) along with a low content of saturated fatty acids between 4% to 16%. Brazil nuts are greater in selenium compound which provides protection against lung cancer, especially in those with low selenium.
According to the nutritionist, 10 to 20 pieces in a day are suitably enough for cancer patients, while healthy individuals can consume around 30 grams per day. It is beneficial to consume five almonds in a day, properly soaked and peeled, around 7 to 10 pieces of blackcurrant, one date regularly along with 5 to 7 pistas and two walnuts.
6# Olive Oil
Research has indicated that oleocanthal, a compound present in extra virgin olive oil is known to rupture membranes of lysosomes, the structures in cells storing wastes leading to the secretion of enzymes resulting in cell death. The process takes place within cancer cells. Oleocanthal nurtures in olives when they are crushed to derive the pulp from which oil is pressed. The compound has been linked to reduce inflammation and prevent cancer growth. As per a study, oleocanthal resulted in cancer cells to break down and die within a limited time of 30 minutes, instead of the usual 16 to 24 hours required for programming of cell deaths, a process known as apoptosis.
Healthy and quality-based olive oil contains enough antioxidants that provide cardiovascular and anti-cancer benefits.
Cinnamon is an essential spice derived from the inner bark of trees scientifically termed as Cinnamomum. Cinnamon has rich benefits for stomach and metabolism. The spice is filled with antioxidants which protect our body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Cinnamon also helps to fight body infections and repair the damaged tissues. Studies have highlighted the benefits in term of its anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamon also cuts short the risk of heart diseases and help people with type 2 diabetes.
Turmeric in the form of bright yellow powder is used as a popular spice and an ingredient in curries. Turmeric is rich in curcumin, which has a variety of health benefits and cancer-fighting properties. Lab studies indicate that the compound can possibly work against lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancers. Other studies indicate that curcumin might help in the process of chemotherapy in delivering effective results.
A study conducted in people with colorectal cancer found that curcumin might help in slowing down the disease’s progression. The compound also helps in lowering chances of cancer in people at high risk.
9# Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits have been linked to lower cancer risks as per research done by studies. Presence of bioactive materials present in the food items inhibit the activation of cancer cells. They help to activate the processes linked with neutralization and elimination of cancer cells. The compounds also hunt for free radicals, responsible for causing cell damage.
Alongside, they are beneficial in curbing the proliferation and multiplication of cancer cells. Fruits have bioactive compounds in the form of flavonoids, the nutrients proving fruit its special colour and taste. Citrus flavonoids function as scavengers for radical cells, and the method they survive in.
Flaxseed, or linseed has been used as a cancer fighting food for years. Flaxseeds contain phytoestrogen, a plant-derived xenoestrogen, not produced in the endocrine system, helping to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Flaxseeds are loaded with two essential anti-cancer components in the form of lignans and omega-3 fat known as alphalinolenic acid (ALA). Flaxseeds are used as a natural laxative, a potent source of fibre which helps to limit cholesterol levels.
The seeds also help in reducing dangers of heart disease, osteoporosis, breast cancer and endometrial cancers.
Tomato health benefits are such that it has a vital ability to limit chances of deadly diseases. They have increased levels of phytochemicals which are a good source of Vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and carotenoids, the most important being lycopene. The carotenoids provide each fruit and vegetable with their unique color and appearance.
Carotenoids and lycopenes work as excellent antioxidants which discharge harmful free radicals from the body leading to diseases. Lycopene also aids in communication of cells at specific ‘gap junctions,’ which provide a signal to cells to stop developing, thereby, preventing cancer growth and tumours. Lycopenes also have preventive benefits for skin cancer as the compound helps to reduce skin sensitivity to sun damage through antioxidants. It is advisable to include two tomatoes in the diet each day by mixing them to sandwiches, salads, sauces or pasta flavours.
Garlic is known to exhibit its cancer prevention properties by working as antibacterial and antioxidant agents preventing risks of stomach, colon, oesophagus, pancreas, breast, and prostate cancers, with a reduced risk of 50%. Compounds present in garlic in the form of allicin, flavonoids, and allyl sulfides all contribute to reduce the risk.
Allicin is a strong plant compound that is antibiotic and antifungal. The substance can cause blisters on the skin, if consumed in large quantities, and cooking increases the speed of breakdown of allicin. Flavonoids present in garlic have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and they help to fight cancer by preventing cell damage.
Though it is probable for one-third of the total population to develop certain form of malignancy during the course of lifetime, Medical Science has made advancements to understand and analyze the biology of cancer cell formation which has further helped to improve the treatment and diagnosis.
Instead of further course of screening tests to establish areas of malignancy in the earliest stages, it is always imperative to stay cautious and look for early symptoms. Prevention lies in your hands. With careful lifestyle choices, avoidance of drugs, staying active, managing weight effectively and avoiding externalities in the form of exposure to harmful chemicals or radiation, one can certainly add an approach to wade off cancer.
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