Studies consistently show a connection between a high intake of fruits and vegetables and reduced cancer risk. Eating cancer fighting foods and staying lean is not only important for prevention of cancer but also for cancer survivors. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can improve health and reduce the chance that cancer will return. All fruits, vegetables and other plant foods such as grains and beans contain cancer fighting substances called phytochemicals. Cancer survivors should consume 7 servings of plant foods each day in addition to the 5 servings of fruits and vegetables to get the optimal amount cancer fighting phytochemicals.
Many laboratory studies have suggested that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok Choy, and cabbage help regulate a complex system of enzymes in our bodies that defend against cancer. Nautural compounds found in these vegetables such as indoles and isothiocyanates have shown the ability to stop the growth of cancer in cell cultures and animal studies. In addition, dark green vegetables like broccoli and kale also contain high amounts of vitamin C and beta carotene.
Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in particular are known as cancer fighting foods, as they are rich in phytochemicals such as ellagic acid, flavanoids and anthocyanosides that have been shown to help the body deactivate carcinogens and slow down the activity of cancer cells.
Here are five simple steps to help maximize healthy cancer fighting foods in your life.
- Reduce your fat intake. This means changing both the kinds of food you eat and the amount. Eat more plant-based foods. If you have to go the fast food route, try ordering a salad.
- Reduce your total caloric intake. This means smaller portions. Look at your plate and reduce the amount you would normally eat by 30 percent.
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Eat more whole grains.
- Get more exercise. Strive for at least 30 minutes a day, five to six times a week. If you go to a gym or take part in an organized sport, fine. But walking 30 to 40 minutes a day is just as healthy and much easier to fit into a busy schedule
Summing It Up
Changing the focus from a meat based diet to a grain, fruit and vegetable based diet does not mean that you must become a vegetarian. Eating primarily plant foods and animal foods on occasion and in moderation provides another advantage called the "fullness factor." These foods tend to be higher in bulk leaving you with a feeling that you are actually eating more but in reality, you are getting fewer calories. The bottom line here is this: moving away from meats and animal products while increasing fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes can lead to better health along with a feeling of satisfaction.
If you have any questions regarding cancer or specifically cancer nutrition, call 1-888-MOFFITT. To become a Moffitt patient, please complete the new patient registration form.