There is a saying, ‘We dig our grave by our teeth’ and so apt is the saying that fatal diseases like cancer are caused by our “bad food habits”. However, a healthy diet can ward off cancer and interestingly, it is no different from the healthy foods that one should eat anyway. A healthy diet is not dietary restrictions, or depriving ourselves of the foods we love. Healthy eating is all about balancing good ingredients in our diet in sufficient quantity. A review of scientific evidence by the World Cancer Research Fundand the American Institute for Cancer Research has pointed out that eating foods of plant origin protects us against cancer. Studies suggest that people who eat meals that are rich in fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of cancer. A list of foods that help to fight cancer are:
TOMATOES: Tomatoes seem to be a potential weapon against many cancers. That red hue in tomatoes comes from a phytochemical called lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant. Several studies suggest that a lycopenerich diet is connected to a reduced risk of cancer. However, researchers aren’t yet sure if this is related directly to lycopene itself or some different compound. It is proved in laboratory tests, lycopene has stopped cancer cells from growing.
CITRUS FRUITS: Vitamin C is an antioxidant found in many fruits such as grapefruit and oranges, and it helps to prevent the formation of cancer-causing nitrogen compounds in our body. Diets rich in Vitamin C have been linked to a reduced risk of cancers of the bladder, colon, stomach, breast, cervix and esophagus. These results are specific to Vitamin C-rich foods, rather than supplements, which seem less reliable.
PEANUTS AND PEANUT BUTTER: Research has shown that a diet rich in Vitamin E reduces the risk of stomach, colon, lung, liver, and other cancers, but, as with other antioxidants, Vitamin E supplements have largely struck out. Some of the Vitamin E-rich foods are peanuts, peanut butter, almonds, almond butter, and sunflower seeds.
BERRIES: Berries like cranberries, blueberries, and raspberries in particular have shown very promising potential to help prevent cancer. They possess an antioxidant called pterostilbene which has cancer-fighting properties. Laboratory animals that were fed black raspberries showed that a 60 percentage reduction in tumors of the esophagus and an 80 percentage reduction in colon tumors.
TURMERIC: Turmeric is a common taste making ingredient in Indian delicacies. Turmeric consists of curcumin. It functions both as an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, and it may help prevent cancer by interfering with the aspects of cellular signaling. In laboratory animals, curcumin has been shown to help prevent cancer of the colon, stomach, lungs , breast and liver.
TEA: A compounds called catechins is present in tea, compounds that scientists theorise may help stop the growth of cancer cells and prevent cellular mutations that contribute to cancer development. Furthermore, green tea consumption has proved to reduced risk factor of stomach cancer among women. In China, it has found that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of developing rectal and pancreatic cancers compared to non-tea drinkers. Regular tea drinkers have also been shown to be at a reduced risk for colon, breast, ovarian, prostate, and lung cancers. All types of tea, whether green or black, seem to have a value as cancer preventive agents.
CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage contain phytonutrients called glucosinolates, which can help to inhibit the metabolism of some carcinogens and stimulate the body’s production of detoxification enzymes. Broccoli and its cousins are protective against cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach.
GARLIC: We all wonder why on earth a stinky breath can give so many health benefits! The same sulfur compounds in garlic that produce its typical odor may also stop cancer-causing substances from forming in your body and also boost up DNA repair, and kill cancer cells! Garlic is the powerhouse of the allium family, but chives, onions, scallions, and leeks might also protect against cancer.
WHOLE GRAINS: Whole grains deliver plenty of fibre in our diet, and it protects against colorectal cancer risk. Whole grains also contain other substances that might battle cancer, including lignans, which act as antioxidants.
CARROTS: Carrots are packed with multiple disease-fighting nutrients and they contain beta Carotene, an antioxidant which is believed to protect cell membranes from toxin damage and retard the growth of cancer cells. Also, carrots deliver other vitamins and phytochemicals that might guard against cancers. To get the maximum benefit from foods that help fight against cancer, one must include them in their diets from an early age and also, refrain from bad habits such as tobacco use, excessive consumption of processed meats, alcohol, etc. At present, the combination of consumption of healthy food and avoidance of risk factors is the best bet against cancer.