Eating a diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains is just generally good for us, but as it turns out, eating a high plant-based diet may help lower your risk for developing many chronic health conditions, including cancer. While no single food or combination of foods can eradicate cancer, studies have shown that the combination of compounds found in certain foods — when part of a healthy diet — can help significantly increase your anti-oxidant intake, and decreasing our risk of developing a number of disorders, including cancer.
The phytochemical compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes, along with antioxidants and a host of vitamins and minerals, all work in conjunction to provide cellular repair. Foods alone cannot cure cancer, but a healthy diet can go a long way toward minimizing your risk. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, “In laboratory studies, many individual minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals demonstrate anti-cancer effects. Evidence suggests that it is the synergy of compounds in the overall diet that offers the strongest cancer protection.” In other words, make sure that your plate is colourful and is part of a well-balanced and healthy diet.
While many foods can play a key role in an anti-oxidant diet, here are a few suggestions to make sure you have on hand:
It’s true what they say: an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples are action packed full of vitamin C and fiber, not to mention phytochemicals quercetin, flavonoids, triterpenoids. They are a very high FODMAP food, so use with caution if you have irritable bowel syndrome, or have been diagnosed with SIBO.
Go ahead and throw an extra handful of these berries on your morning chia seed pudding (which is also remarkably high in omega 3 fatty acids). Blueberries are full of vitamins C and K, manganese, and are a great source of dietary fiber. Blueberries are also full of antioxidants like anthocyanin, elegiac acid, and resveratrol (to name a few).
Many of us start our days with a cup of coffee, but as it turns out, we’re also intaking a load of antioxidants. While not all coffees are created equal, they mostly all are a good source of riboflavin and concentrated phytochemicals. Always purchase organic coffee to minimize your chemical exposure, and try to avoid pods that are run through plastic casing (heated plastics are linked to hormone disruption and carcinoma – not the mention they’re terrible for our environment). Furthermore, if you’re choosing decaf, ensure its Swiss water processed. Most decaffeinating processed require copious amounts of chemicals to remove the caffeine.
An essential side dish on many holiday tables and the go-to juice for urinary tract infection relief, cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and dietary fiber. Additionally, cranberries are full of flavonoids and ursolic, benzoic, and hydroxycinnamic acids.
This member of the Allium group of vegetables — which also contains shallots, onions, and leeks — is a pantry staple enjoyed around the world. Garlic is well-known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties but is getting a fair amount of scrutiny for its cancer fighting attributes as well. Garlic contains saponins, allicin, and inulin.
Dark Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are great sources of dietary fiber and iron — and they make a wonderful base for tossed salads, too. But these veggies also contain carotenoids, saponins, and flavonoids which help flush free radicals from the body.
When making your grocery list, make sure to include legumes, mushrooms, cherries, and carrots— all proven to have anti-carcinogenic components. Furthermore, always ensure to check the clean fifteen/dirty dozen list to ensure you’re minimizing your risk of pesticide and inorganic exposures.
For more information about improving your health or to discuss naturopathic health treatments and services, please feel free to contact Dr. Courtney Holmberg, ND at 647-351-7282 to schedule an appointment today!