Eat well, stay well. It’s a simple philosophy. Recent research shows eating healthy can help prevent and even reverse cancer, in addition to a host of other serious health conditions. The trend toward eating food that prevents or reduces inflammation in the body—the cause of much illness—has been proven by scientists to be effective globally, yet the message is still only trickling down to traditional doctors.
In the past, doctors may have recommended low cholesterol diets to avoid heart conditions. They would also suggest low calorie diets to keep weight down and prevent diabetes, among a host of other obesity related issues. Overall, though, most rely primarily on prescription medication to treat patients. This is due in part because they don’t think patients will change their lifestyles, as well as because nutrition is not something they were trained in until recently. However, the latest research on anti-inflammatory diets proves that they can have a powerfully positive effect on health.
Dr. William Li, MD, president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, has been featured in TED Talks and at medical association conventions spreading the word about how cancer can be reversed by diet. Angiogenesis is the abnormal growth of blood vessels that feed tumors. He lists foods that fight cancer by making tumors shrink. By naturally inhibiting the growth of these blood vessels through reduction of inflammation, the foods have a real impact on reversing angiogenesis.
Dr. Li says foods can have an even greater impact than anti-inflammatory drugs. A Harvard University study of 79,000 men, performed over 20 years, found that those who ate two to three servings of cooked tomatoes each week reduced their prostate cancer risk by 40-50%. Of those who developed prostate cancer, the ones who ate the same amount of cooked tomatoes prescribed in the study had fewer blood vessels feeding their cancer.
Here is a list of some of the top anti-cancer foods:
Beans, soybeans, berries, grapes, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), cooked tomatoes, green tea (direct anti-cancer fighting effects), spices including turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, ginger, whole grains and flax seeds.
In the book “Nutri-Cures: Foods & Supplements That Work with Your Body to Relieve Symptoms & Speed Healing,” author Alice Feinstein says keeping insulin levels on an even keel helps keep inflammation under control. That means limiting sugars in food, eating small meals or snacks every two to three hours, focusing on nutrient-rich foods, and avoiding foods with empty calories such as French fries, sodas, white bread, pasta, and candies. Also, avoiding processed foods with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup.
Running with the theme that processed foods are generally bad for you, two recent bestselling books, “Grain Brain” and “Wheat Belly,” decry the negative effects of modern wheat processed into high-carbohydrate foods. In “Grain Brain,” author David Perlmutter asserts that the high-carb, low fat diet is responsible for a host of physical ills, ranging from headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and depression to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and cognitive decline in aging brains. In “Wheat Belly,” author William Davis, MD, writes that much of the unexplained weight gain in the U.S. population can be traced to the high consumption of wheat products. This leads to insulin spikes that cause fat storage.
In “The Green Pharmacy Guide To Healing Foods,” the author James A. Duke, PhD, lists the 12 greatest disease fighting foods for conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, colds and flu, gout, heart disease, and menopause symptoms. They include: high-protein; fiber-filled beans; immunity-boosting “bulbs” or garlic; caffeine-laden foods like tea, coffee and chocolate; celery for its anti-inflammatory compound “apigenin”; cinnamon for regulating blood sugar; citrus fruits for antioxidants; ginger for inflammation prevention; “brain healthy” herbs in the mint family such as basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender, sage, and lemon balm; antioxidant peppers, antioxidant pomegranates, anti-inflammatory turmeric; and walnuts, which boost serotonin.
Dr. Li points out in his TED Talk that diet may be the only option to fight cancer for people in the Third World who lack the money or access to expensive drugs or treatments. For those who have access to healthy foods, a preventative diet will help to avoid the pain and suffering brought on by such diseases, which means that eating healthy to stay well is a good goal for everyone.