In Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s recent book, Super Immunity, Fuhrman draws on studies conducted worldwide to pinpoint the ties between diet and cancer. His findings: many whole foods have specific medicinal properties which inhibit and fight cancer in a variety of ways. The final result of this effort is a comprehensive set of dietary guidelines proven to enhance the immune system and improve overall health in addition to routing cancer.
Plant foods trump animal products and processed foods
Animal foods present specific risks in relation to cancer. The saturated fat in meat, dairy and eggs encourages higher levels of circulating sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, in turn contributing to cancers such as estrogen-dependent breast cancer. Animal foods also raise levels of insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-1, which is linked to greater cancer risk overall. Amazingly, vegetarians enjoy a 40 percent reduced risk of cancer.
Chronic high consumption of sugar in turn leads to chronically high insulin; recent research has confirmed that most cancers mutate to make the best use of both insulin and IGF-1 for growth, effectively using them as fuel.
Whole plant foods, on the other hand, contain high levels of phytonutrients, antioxidants and fiber, all of which contribute to lower cancer risk. Fiber, which is not found in animal or processed foods, dampens levels of circulating estrogen, lowers the risk of colon cancer and likely enhances general immunity.
GOMBBS – Greens, onion, mushrooms, berries, beans and seeds
Fuhrman coined this quirky acronym to capture the most demonstrably powerful anti-cancer foods. Greens are the most nutrient-dense foods in the world; the cruciferous vegetable family in particular, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and many others, generates compounds known as isothiocyanates (ITCs) when blended, chopped or chewed that have a plethora of anti-cancer actions. In one study, higher intake of cruciferous vegetables halved the total incidence of cancer, while in another, higher intake saw a 57 percent reduction in the occurrence of colon cancer.
Allium vegetables including onions, garlic, shallots, leeks and scallions contain organosulfur compounds that are released when chewed, chopped or crushed. Increasing consumption of these healthful vegetables is proven to reduce the risk of prostate and gastric cancers. The flavonoid quercetin, abundant in onions, slows tumor growth and causes death of colon cancer cells.
All commonly eaten mushrooms contain powerful cancer-fighting agents including angiogenesis inhibitors, aromatase inhibitors and antigen-binding lectins which block estrogen production and prevent cancer cell growth. Eating just one mushroom per day lowers risk of developing breast cancer by 64 percent.
Berries’ extraordinarily high antioxidant content merits them a spot on Fuhrman’s short list of cancer fighters. For the greatest health benefit, dip berries in a homemade chocolate sauce; the combination of antioxidant-rich cacao and berries has been proven to have a synergistic effect that doubles the amount of antioxidants absorbed.
Beans, peas and lentils are nutrient-rich and high in protein and fiber; eating legumes at least two times a week reduces colon cancer risk by 50 percent. Additional protective effects have been shown for kidney, stomach, oral, larynx and pharynx cancers.
Seeds (and nuts, to a lesser degree) are high in protein, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats. Flax, hemp and chia seeds are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and nut and seed consumption generally is linked to heart health, prevention of diabetes and weight control.
Sources of this article include:
Bernard MD, Neil D., and Reilly RD Jennifer K. The Cancer Survivor’s Guide. Summertown, TN: Healthy Living Publications, 2008. eBook.
About the author:
Linn Cole is a holistic health coach working with clients worldwide to revitalize their health. Visit meetyourbestself.com to learn more.