A common misconception is that being in optimal health is a matter of doing a bunch of complicated things, when really it boils down to a few simple things. One of the best and easiest ways to stay healthy is to eat nutrient rich foods. Nature provides whole foods that are made to give us exactly what we need to thrive, so let’s get right into the top cancer fighting foods list that will provide your body with a nice healthy boost of nutrition, allowing you to thrive from the inside out.
Top Cancer Fighting Foods and Drinks
Most of us know the antioxidant power of beta carotene that carrots pack, which nourishes the liver, purifies the blood and helps to fight free radical damage that can cause disease. But they also contain something called falcarinol which research has shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Carrots are also alkaline food.
Reasonably priced, you can buy organic carrots in bulk and juice them at home. Try my ABC anti-inflammatory juice, or you can find Bolthouse Farms 100% organic carrot juice at many grocery stores, or Trader Joe’s carries their brand, and both are delicious!
It helps your body absorb the carotenoids in carrot juice better if you eat some healthy fat with it. Taking flax oil at the same time is a great way to do this, eating some nuts with it or drinking it with your meal.
Here are just a few testimonials of people who used carrot juice to combat cancer (keep in mind at this point they are juicing and drinking 5 lbs of carrots a day). Less is needed for prevention.
Flaxseed is an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, soluble and insoluble fiber. The omega-3 fatty acid ALA has been shown to inhibit tumor incidence and growth.
Lignans in particular deserve attention, especially in the area of estrogen dependent cancers where studies have shown them to block enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism, slowing the growth and spread of tumor cells.
This may seem contradictory since lignans are a type of phytoestrogen similar to the hormone estrogen, however studies have shown the lignans in flaxseed to slow growth of and shrink tumors and that women with the highest level of lignans in their body have the lowest risk of breast cancer.
1-2 TBSP of flax oil or flaxseed is recommended for prevention. For more on flaxseed and breast cancer see this article.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric has proved to be a COX-2 inhibitor, meaning it stops chronic inflammation in the body, which is a precursor to cancer. Studies have shown it to stop the blood supply to tumors disabling their growth. It has been shown to activate a gene that suppresses tumors, and also inhibit the spread of cancer cells and even kill them, making it one of the most effective tumor fighting foods.
It also prevents regrowth of cancer stem cells which are at the heart of many tumors and has been shown to increase the effectiveness of certain chemo drugs, while inhibiting their toxicity to healthy cells sometimes as much as 7-10 fold (for more information see this article).
In Cancer Watch April 2011, after a number of studies, Professor Bharat Aggarwal Ph. D. in MD stated: “No cancer has been found, to my knowledge, which is not affected by curcumin. The reason curcumin is so effective against cancer is that it hits not just a single target or cell signaling pathway but dozens of targets implicated in cancer.”
Curcumin absorbs better in your body when taken with healthy fats like flax oil, coconut oil, or with a meal. One of my favorite ways to consume tumeric is by drinking golden milk (you can get the recipe here). It also has a strong synergistic effect against cancer when combined with EGCG in green tea and resveratrol. For more detailed information and studied curcumin dosages in actual cancer patients see this article, and this article.
Polyphenols (antioxidants) in green tea protect against cell damage. In particular, EGCG has been shown to block the enzyme that tells cancer cells to multiply, resulting in cell death.
An Italian study is learning about the the synergistic effects of quercetin, an antioxidant found in apples and onions, with the green tea to possibly ramp up it’s cancer fighting ability in prostate cancer. Makes sense since quercetin exhibits anti-inflammatory effects.
Many times you’ll see 3-5 cups of green tea a day recommended for it’s health benefits. Keep in mind, this is actually 4-8 oz total a day by american standards, as a good preventive measure. For information regarding studies on green tea and the prevention of cancer see this article.
Update: Matcha green tea has gained quite a bit of popularity recently and contains 10 times the nutrients of green tea per cup. Find out more here.
You can also get a nice healthy boost of matcha powder in this DIY smoothie powder (recipe here).
Purple and Red Grapes
The skin of purple and red grapes contain high amounts of resveratrol, a polyphenol that is high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
Studies have shown resveratrol to prevent cancer cells, slow growth of existing cancer cells inhibiting the formation of tumors, and trigger death of tumors in certain types of cancers.
Besides the color (green grapes have less resveratrol), the skin is where it’s at with grapes, so this something definitely worth eating organic, reducing risk of pesticide exposure. For more information on the benefits of resveratrol see this article.
Exotic mushrooms such as maitake, shitake, reishi, turkey tail, and cordyceps are packed with immune modulators like beta glucans, and promote killer T-cell activity to fight off infection. Studies have shown shrinking of tumors, increased immune activity decreasing side effects of radiation and chemo, and increase in survival times.
Mushrooms are the only vegetable source of vitamin D of which low levels are associated with increased cancer risk. Eating 10 grams of the average button mushroom per day can decrease risk of breast cancer by 64%, due to an enzyme inhibitor aromatase that restricts the production and action of bad estrogen.
Sound like a lot? That’s just one mushroom a day! Even mushroom haters can pull this off!
Mushrooms should only be eaten cooked to reduce their agaritine content, and with the addition of green tea they can decrease breast cancer rates even more. For supporting information see this article and this article.
Onions and Garlic
From the allium family, onions and garlic contain organosulfer compounds that detoxify carcinogens, halt cancer growth, and prevent tumors from receiving blood supply, making them super cancer fighting vegetables.
They contain flavonoids which are anti-inflammatory – onions particularly contain quercetin which slows tumor development, suppresses growth and kills colon cancer cells – making them colon cancer fighting foods.
So next time you tear up while cutting your onions remember that’s all those awesome anti-cancer sulfur compounds you’re getting that are causing that. For more information see this article.
Rich in phytochemicals, six of which suppress aromatase, which helps the body produce estrogen – makes pomegranate a nutrient dense breast cancer blocking food.
A glass of pomegranate juice is loaded with flavonoids and polyphenols giving green tea some healthy competition (pomegranate juice has a higher amount), making it beneficial for the prevention of cancer in general.
For more information see this article.
A few more anti cancer foods worth honorable mention:
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower)
- Leafy greens
- Sunflower and pumpkin seeds (especially for prostate health)
Studies have shown these foods to eat to fight cancer have positive effects on the prevention of and also in more therapeutic quantities, the treatment of cancer. In the realm of whole foods nature supplies an abundance that when eaten on a regular basis can provide protection against cancer and disease in general.
In any case, it’s best to get a wide variety of organic, fresh whole foods in our diets to provide the best protection we can against any foreign invaders that try to wreak havoc on our cells and immune systems.
What are some of your favorite cancer fighting foods? Any other suggestions to add to the list? Share below!