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5 Cancer Fighting Super Foods
Deborah Beaumont RN, APRN
Holistic Breast Health Specialist
With the prevalence of cancer and its effect on millions of people it is not surprising
there has been increasing interest and research into the effects of nutrition on our
overall health and certainly our ability to arrest or even reverse the effects of chronic
disease and even cancer.
To understand the role of nutrition and it’s role in cancer it is important to understand
the difference between the development of growth of cancer cells as opposed to normal
healthy cells. Increased understanding of physiology and nutrition points to the role of
inflammation and it’s role in health and disease. Recent studies have repeatedly
pointed towards the central role inflammation plays in numerous cancers - breast,
prostate, colon, as well as other cancers. The increased understanding of the role of
inflammation in cancer has led many to focus on the beneficial effects of an anti- cancer
Inflammation is the underlying issue that dictates cancer tumor initiation, progression
and growth. What we eat, the quality of our food, and the choices we make play a direct
role in either creating an inflammatory process or actually acting in an anti-inflammatory
manner. Food directly effect chemicals and hormone that have a direct impact on our
experience of illness. One substance has drawn particular interest of researchers - a
substance called NF kappa B (NF-kB). This substance is inflammation and plays a
major role in the the inflammatory cascade. Unfortunately, the standard american diet
is high in foods with poor quality fats, sugar and refined carbohydrates that in fact
trigger NF-kB. This inflammatory process creates extensive inflammation in the body
and create an environment in which cancer cells can thrive and grow.
Cancer cells (rogue cells) do not have an efficient mechanism for energy and growth. In
comparison to normal cells cancer cells have significantly more glucose and insulin
receptors on the surface of the cell - basically cancer cells need glucose for growth.
What does this mean in terms of our nutrition? First and foremost a high sugar diet fuels
the growth of cancer cells. The standard diet is very high in sugar; some estimates put
the average daily consumption greater than 156 pounds a year for every American.
While most people are aware of the obvious amounts of sugar in things like soda,
cookies, cakes, pastries and candies many are unaware of hidden sugar in foods we
eat every day - even seemingly healthy ones. So called “healthy” foods such as popular
brands of yogurt can have as much as 28-32 grams of sugar per container. That equals
7-8 teaspoons of sugar. That’s the equivalent of 6-7 Oreo cookies!
Sugar doesn’t only come in the form of sweet food such as candy, pastries and cookies.
There is hidden sugar (in the form of high fructose corn syrup) in a majority of
processed and packaged foods - even foods you wouldn’t expect like bread, barbecue
sauce, ketchup and peanut butter. There are more than 60 different names for sugar
common names, such as sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, as well as barley
malt, dextrose, maltose and rice syrup, Many foods such as popular brand cereals
can have 4-5 different kinds of sugar combined into one product.
Take all of this as well as dubious claims of nutritional value such as “a great source of
vitamin D” in frosted corn flakes and it becomes clear what a challenge nutrition can be
for the average person even if they are trying to be conscientious and eat well. When
your addressing nutrition for disease prevention it becomes even more important to be
knowledgeable about labelling and marketing that is at best inaccurate and at worst
With all these challenges it is good to know there are foods that are healthy and actually
cancer fighting. A few of them are as follows:
Broccoli & Cruciferous Vegetables
Broccoli is one of many cruciferous vegetables that are among the
healthiest foods to include in your diet. There are many foods that fall into
this group with cancer fighting benefits:
broccoli *cauliflower *cabbage
brussel sprouts * artichokes
These vegetables sulphur rich vegetable and serve a number of uses when used
regularly in the diet. Not only do they have phytonutrients these vegetables support the
natural detoxification process in the body but the presence of phytochemical in
cruciferous vegetables, Indole 3 Carbiol and Di-indol methane (DIM) play a central role
in healthy estrogen metabolism in the body. Every cell in the body has estrogen
receptors and is effected not only by circulating levels of healthy estrogen but we’re
dependent on the detoxification and excretion of unhealthy estrogen metabolism byproducts. It is believed this is where high levels of Indole 3 caribou and DIM support the
body in cancer prevention.
Not everyone enjoys or are likely to eat steamed broccoli (pretty boring). There are
some more interesting ways to eat broccoli. Roasting or baking can give them a nutty,
crunchy flavor. Many of the cruciferous vegetables can be combined in stir fry dishes,
soups and dishes to add variety and flavor.
This easy cream of broccoli soup is an excellent way to include
more broccoli in your diet
• 1 head of broccoli (steamed and cut into smaller pieces)
4 1⁄2 cups chicken broth
2 to 3 Hass avocados
1 cup of shredded raw cheddar (omit if you are dairy free)
Salt and pepper to taste
• Steam broccoli for 4 to 5 minutes, let cool, and then cut up.
• Combine broccoli, chicken broth, and avocados, and blend to desired
• Cook over medium heat until thoroughly warmed, and add cheese
(can omit if dairy free)
Healthy Oils & Fats
One of the problems is that fats have been maligned and given a bad rap for a long
time. All fats have been labeled as bad and the cause for everything from obesity to
chronic disease. Many reports in the last few years describe the pressure from big
food companies to shape public opinion around nutrition and their role in shifting
responsibility from dietary sugar as the underlying cause of health problems to blaming
In truth not all fats are created equal. There are healthy fats such as avocado, cold
pressed olive oils and coconut oil. While any oil is subject to oxidation and “going bad”
these oils, if stored properly, can be a healthy part of your diet, improve the taste of food
and provide us with a healthy nutrient essential for good cellular activity in our body.
Trans-fats (partially hydrogenated oils) such as
margarine, bottled cooking oils, and the oils commonly
used in commercial baked goods are actually among
the most harmful fats we consume.
Trans fat is formed through an industrial process that
adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to
become solid at room temperature and more shelf stable. The process may be
preserving the fat for resale but it is doing nothing to preserve us or our health.
Basically, yellow oils that are popular on store shelves and added to processed and
baked goods are a problem. These are not natural fats but a manufactured form of
trans fats to make them more“shelf stable”. These oils are chemically processed and
are a source of toxins in our diet.
Trans-fats increase inflammation in the body and effect the membrane of our cells making them rigid and unable to allow the transport of nutrients across the membrane.
Trans-fats in our diet is a major contributor to heart disease, atherosclerosis, and
increase our chances of diabetes or stroke by damaging the lining of your arteries and
making the cells less responsive to normal cellular activity.
Trans-fats are present in much of the packaged, processed foods that make up our
daily diets. Often called SAD, the standard american diet, is composed of unhealthy
processed foods, contain high amounts of sugar and made with unhealthy fats.
Common sources of trans fats are:
Baked goods. Most cakes, cookies, pie crusts and crackers contain shortening,
which is usually made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Ready-made
frosting is another source of trans fat.
Snacks. Potato chips corn and tortilla chips often contain trans fat. And while
popcorn can be a healthy snack, many types of packaged or microwave popcorn
use trans fat to help cook or flavor the popcorn (not to mention the lining of microwave popcorn bags are lined with BPA and toxic chemicals that are harmful to
Fried food. Foods that require deep frying — french fries, doughnuts and fried
chicken — can contain trans fat from the oil used in the cooking process.
Refrigerator dough. Products such as canned biscuits and cinnamon rolls often
contain trans fat, as do frozen pizza crusts.
Creamer and margarine. Nondairy coffee creamer and stick margarines also may
contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. The issue of including healthy fats
in our diets can be challenging. Even the ever popular Canola oil is not
considered healthy. Over the years it has been genetically modified and
industrialized to the point that it is a health hazard. If it is used as an industrial oil
and has been used in candles, soaps, lipsticks, lubricants, inks, bio-fuels and
even insecticides what is it doing in our food?
The five best sources of healthy fats are:
Avocados - contain Vitamin E - an antioxidant which help prevent free radical
damage, boosts immunity and acts as an anti-aging nutrient for your skin.
Butter - The omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids found in butter help your brain function
properly and improve skin health. Healthy omega-3 and omega-6 are two fatty acids
that are considered essential, meaning the body needs them but can’t produce them on
its own, and must be consumed in the diet everyday. Butter’s also rich in fat-soluble
vitamins and trace minerals, including selenium, and powerful antioxidants
Coconut Oil - actually this is a healthy medium chain fat that effectively crosses the cell
membrane for optimal nutrition inside the cell.
High quality olive oil Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil has high levels of heart healthy monounsaturated fats
and antioxidants that help improve memory and cognitive function. Cold pressed olive
oil is great on salads and vegetables. Olive oil should not be heated to high
temperatures since this causes oxidation and contributes to inflammation in the body.
Healthy omega-3 oils are anti-inflammatory and found in fish such as Salmon, sardines,
nuts and seeds and grass fed beef. These are anti-inflammatory oils we need to
consume in our diet everyday - either through good food sources or a HIGH quality fish
Fruits and Vegetables
A common phrase is “eat the rainbow”. A diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables are
important sources of essential nutrients including potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin
A and vitamin C. These vitamins and minerals are sources of phytochemicals that
function as antioxidants, phytoestrogens, and anti-inflammatory agents and have other
The protective role of fruits and vegetables against cancers is well documented. In
1966, for the first time, it was suggested that the regular consumption of certain
constituents in fruits and vegetables might provide protection from cancer.. Several
studies have addressed the cancer preventive effects of fruits and vegetables. More
than 25,000 different phytochemicals have been identified that may have potential
against various cancers. The benefits of the combined phytochemical obtained by
eating a rich variety of fruits and vegetables have never been able to be replicated by
taking supplements alone.
These important phytochemicals have advantages because they are safe and usually
target multiple pathways that fight cancer. Several major compounds have been
identified and includes carotenoids
Flaxseed and phytoestrogens
Numerous studies have shown promising results when looking at the role of
phytoestrogens called lignans and their role in breast cancer prevention and reversal.
Certain foods like sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, grains (rye, barley, wheat
and oats), broccoli and beans contain lignans but flaxseed has hundreds of times the
amount of these other foods.
Researchers at the University of Toronto reviewed literature looking at the role of
lignans in preventing and slowing the growth of breast cancer and has found studies
that indicated a number of positive benefits.
• Numerous animal studies indicated a diet of 2.5%-10% flaxseed could reduce tumor
• Studies indicated flaxseed an lignan intake could reduce breast cancer risk (especially
in postmenopausal women)
• Clinical trials indicated that 25 grams/day of flaxseed for 32 days could reduce tumor
growth in breast cancer patients.
• Healthy estrogen metabolism is essential for every woman’s health and in critical in
breast cancer prevention. Flaxseeds support healthy estrogen metabolism in a
number of ways.
• When eaten, lignans in flaxseeds are broken down by bacteria in the gut into 2
estrogen-like compounds that circulate through the liver. These compounds have
been proven in animal studies to help prevent breast cancer by preventing tumor
• Tumors, in order to grow, create new blood vessels. This process, called
angiogenesis, provides oxygen and nutrients to grow. Animal studies indicate
flaxseeds can inhibit the growth factor that is needed for this process to occur.
• Aromatase is an enzyme in the body that promotes the conversion of some
hormones in the body to estrogen. Lignans block aromatase and can lower estrogen
production which is beneficial in preventing the growth of breast cancer.
• Lignans, acting as a weak phytoestrogen, can act on estrogen receptors and block
stronger cancer associated estrogens and harmful environmental estrogens called
• Estrogen is normally broken down in the liver to three metabolites - 2 OH, 4 OH, and
16 OH estrone. Of these metabolites 2-OH estrone is considered less estrogenic and
more protective. Studies indicate lignans influence how the liver breaks down
estrogen and encourages the protective 2-OH estrone metabolites and less of the
cancer associated metabolites.
Given how easy it is to include flaxseeds in the diet and the number of benefits that can
be gained by including this in your diet it seems that this should become part of your
daily nutrition plan. As little as 25 grams a day (2-3 Tablespoons) can have these
incredible health benefits. Ground flaxseed can be added to smoothies, sprinkled on
salads and yogurt, can be added to yogurt and can be used in baking.
Curcumin, an ingredient in the spice Turmeric and is often used in Ayurvedic medicine.
It is golden orange and adds a bright color to dishes when used in cooking.
Curcumin as a health supplement is increasingly studied and found to be a powerful
antioxidant, antimicrobial, brain protectant, detoxification agent, and a powerful antiinflammatory agent. It reduces pain in the body much the same way as over-the-counter
medication such as Advil and Aleve but without the
negative side effects associated with regular use of
Research in the past decade has even focused highly
on its anti-cancer properties when used at high doses.
not only does it act as an anti-inflammatory but as a
substance that helps control the growth of cancer cells.
Over 2,000 published studies looking at turmeric and
cancer have shown curcumin combats cancers of the
breast, prostate, liver, colon, lung, pancreas and more. Many of these studies have
shown curcumin actually stops cancer cells from dividing. and plays a role in triggering
apoptosis, or programmed cell death, which is the body’s normal, natural and necessary
way of ridding itself from damaged cells.
It’s easy to add turmeric to soups, stews or sprinkle on food.
As a supplement it is best to buy a form called Meriva Curcumin. Naturally, curcumin is
poorly absorbed in the blood stream, with 40-85% of dosage being passed through the
GI tract unabsorbed. Meriva curumin was developed to support maximum absorption
(meriva is a technology that binds the curcumin to a fat molecule) allowing it to pass
through the GI tract and allow maximum absorption to allow for greater distribution to
our body-wide blood supply.
As I hope you can see there are many ways we can take charge of our diets and
directly improve our health, well being, boost our immune system and fight cancer.
The work of nutrition as a health tool is at least two fold:
• elimination of harmful foods and ingredients
• adding beneficial foods, spices and supplements
If there is one thing we can do immediately that has the most impact on our health is is
to change the nutrients we put into our body. Food not only effects us physically but is a
key ingredient in addressing our mental and emotional health. Providing our bodies with
nutrients and vitamins is the foundation to prevention and plays a key role in healing
and recovering from many of the toxic substances we ingest in food and medication.
To your best health (and next nourishing and delicious meal)
For more information or to schedule a free 20 minute phone consultation contact
Deborah at radicalhealthRN@gmail.com