Eating anticancer foods such as algae, mushrooms, nuts or citrus fruits can help prevent cancer, a disease that is largely affected by lifestyle. Beyond a genetic predisposition for the development of malignant tumors, science today has opened our eyes to the impact of our lifestyle.
Just like tobacco, responsible for a third of malignant tumors, an incorrect diet also has important repercussions on the risk of developing them. Think that 75% of colon cancer cases have food causes.
In North America, for example, 1 woman in 9 suffers from breast cancer, and only 0.3% of these cases have been shown to have genetic causes. The others are related to lifestyle.
On the other hand, Asian women have the lowest percentage of breast cancer in the world. This percentage increases four times in those who emigrate to the West.
Well, what happens is that Asian and Western food are very different and this seems to be the basis of these very different statistics. For example, it is becoming increasingly clear that regular consumption of soybeans and seaweed is connected with a low incidence of breast cancer.
Healthy food and anticancer
As I told you before, several studies have shown that in Asia there is a lower incidence of female tumors (breast, endometrium, ovaries). These types of cancers are related to the harmful action that sex hormones have on these types of tissues.
The diet of Asian women makes the levels of these hormones in the blood lower than that of Western women. Among the foods most associated with this type of mechanism are seaweed.
Experiments on guinea pigs have shown that when fed algae they had a longer menstrual cycle and a lower concentration of sex hormones.
Seaweed also contains two substances closely related to cancer prevention: flucoidan (a type of sugar) and fucoxanthin (a yellow pigment). Both interfere with the growth process of tumor cells.
Seaweed is now being sold in many supermarkets in the form.
The most famous are the NORI (the one used to prepare sashimi), the wakame (the one from the Japanese restaurant miso soup) and the kombu.
Their flavor marries perfectly with fish and they can be added without problems to salads and vegetable soups.
Like seaweed, many mushrooms belong to traditional Asian cuisine (shiitake, maitake, enokitake), others to ours (portobello, common mushroom, mushrooms and thistle mushroom).
They all contain beta-glucans (including lentinan ), substances that stimulate the activity of immune cells and, therefore, enhance our defense system.
In Japan, these mushrooms are staple foods, to the point that today they are also present in hospitals, where they are supplied to patients during chemotherapy treatment.
They can be bought fresh or dried, and both keep their anti-cancer properties active.
3- Nuts and seeds
Natural nuts (not fried), such as almonds, walnuts and seeds (flaxseed, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame) are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids .
These fatty acids belong to polyunsaturated fats, which our body is not capable of producing on its own and which it needs to assume through food.
Polyunsaturated fats are divided into Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats: the former have an anti-inflammatory effect, the latter pro-inflammatory.
In a balanced diet, the ratio between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats should be 50% each.
What happens is that the industrial diet, which characterizes our society, causes this balance to be broken and that a person usually eats foods that have 25 times more Omega 6 than Omega 3.
What is the consequence? That we are going to develop a pro-inflammatory environment in our body.
Learning to use seeds daily (especially flaxseed) and nuts in the correct quantity is a good strategy to prevent this from happening.
4- Cabbage type vegetables
These vegetables are called cruciferous. Among them you can find: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens.
Its anticancer properties are connected to the presence of glucosinolates , substances that inhibit the carcinogenic potential of factors that have the power to alter the cell and make it mutate.
They also improve the body’s defenses and have a protective effect against sex hormones.
These vegetables should be consumed at least 3 times a week and the best way to cook them is steamed, since in this way they do not lose their anti-cancer properties.
5- Probiotics (yogurt and miso)
Probiotic foods are foods with added live microorganisms that remain active in the intestine and exert important physiological effects.
Ingested in sufficient quantities, they can have beneficial effects, such as contributing to the balance of the intestinal bacterial flora and enhancing the immune system. Among them the best known is yogurt, however kefir is also becoming very fashionable lately.
It is important that you pay attention to one thing: not all yogurts are the same. It is always better to choose the natural ones without sugar and without sweeteners, since one of the main foods for tumor cells is sugar itself.
Another excellent probiotic is miso. It is a food of Japanese origin that derives from the fermentation of soybeans, to which a cereal such as barley or rice can be added during its manufacture.
It has the appearance of a perfect vegetable paste to be added to vegetable broths, taking into account that miso never has to be boiled if we want its beneficial properties not to be lost.
Miso has surprising effects on health: it alkalizes the blood, nourishes the nervous system , regenerates the intestinal flora, detoxifies and the most surprising thing is its ability to eliminate toxic waste, including radioactivity.
In fact, it was used in many Japanese hospitals after the atomic bombs, to heal people affected by radiation.
6- green tea
Green tea is an incredible ally against cancer thanks to its high content of catechins and specifically epigallocatechin gallate-3 (EGCG).
It is well known for its antioxidant activity; the ability to protect cells against damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals, which are involved in the development of cancer.
It has antiangiogenic activity, that is, it prevents the development of new vessels and with it the progression of the tumor and the appearance of metastasis. Many studies have shown that it enhances the effect of radiation therapy on cancer cells.
It is also an excellent diuretic, helping the kidney to eliminate toxins and is involved in lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.
As you already know, tea, as well as coffee, is a stimulating food due to its theine content. However, there are some, such as ban-cha tea, that have very little of this substance and that can be taken without any type of contraindication.
Having three cups of green tea a day is a good habit to prevent cancer.
7- Fruits of the forest
Red fruits are excellent allies in the fight against cancer. Among these fruits we find strawberries, cherries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.
They are all rich in ellagic acid (especially strawberries and raspberries), and berries also have an antiangiogenic action, preventing the tumor from expanding and metastasizing.
They also eliminate toxins, preventing carcinogens in the environment from becoming toxic substances for cells.
The cherry also contains another substance, glucaric acid , which has a detoxifying effect.
Blackberries contain anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins , both with important activity to induce tumor cell death. They are also rich in vitamin C, which is an important antioxidant.
Oranges, tangerines, lemon and grapefruit contain flavonoids , anti-inflammatory substances. In addition, they stimulate the detoxification of carcinogenic substances by the liver.
Tangerine skin flavonoids ( tangerithin and nobiletine ) have been shown to penetrate cancer cells, facilitate their death by apoptosis, and reduce their ability to invade nearby tissues.
Drinking a good fresh orange juice in the morning is an easy and simple way to protect ourselves from the appearance of many types of tumors.
It is a herbaceous plant of the Zingiberaceae family (ginger also belongs to it). Its root is widely used in Indian cuisine, where it is used as an ingredient in curry to which it provides a characteristic intense yellow color.
Of all the spices, it is the one with the greatest anti-inflammatory power due to the presence of curcumin , capable of inhibiting the growth of many types of tumor cells (ovary, breast, colon, liver, lung, pancreas, stomach, bladder).
Curcumin is better assimilated by the body when it is combined with piperine (present in black pepper). For this reason, it is advisable to combine turmeric with pepper when taking it.
Among its benefits we remember that:
It slows the progression of metastases, induces the autolysis of tumor cells (the suicide of cancer cells).
Decreases peritumoral inflammation. It inhibits the NF-kappaB factor, which is what protects tumor cells against the mechanisms of our immune system when eliminating them.
Enhances the activity of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Protects the mucous membranes, liver and kidneys from the side effects of chemotherapy.
Garlic is one of the oldest and most widely used medicinal plants in the world.
When we crush it, a substance called alliin is released , which is transformed by a chemical process into another substance called hallucine, in turn responsible for the formation of many substances with anticancer power.
In fact, these help eliminate toxic carcinogenic substances from our body, it is also capable of stopping the growth of cancer cells.
It also helps regulate blood sugar levels by decreasing the secretion of insulin and IGF, thus inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
To take full advantage of the positive properties of garlic, it is best to crush it and leave it to rest for about ten minutes, the time necessary for all the substances to come into contact with each other and activate.
What are the conditions to prevent cancer?
Inflammation is a natural process in our body in response to a pathogen (a virus, bacteria, harmful substances, etc.).
In particular, white blood cells called macrophages come into play (do you remember the little pictures from “once upon a time the human body”? Macrophages were the white policemen) that release highly reactive substances to eliminate intruders. This causes irritation of the affected area.
The inflammation aims to repair the affected tissues and does this by producing many growth factors so that healthy cells are produced and a new network of blood vessels is created to feed them.
When inflammation becomes chronic (it persists over time due to determining factors such as tobacco, obesity, an unbalanced diet …), cancer cells take advantage of this situation to grow and reproduce.
There are foods that promote inflammation (pro-inflammatory foods) and others that reduce it (anti-inflammatory). If I introduce anti-inflammatory foods into my diet, I will create a preventive environment against cancer.
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Prevenire i tumori mangiando con gusto, Anna Villarini, Giovanni Allegro