Since my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, I’ve been obsessed with food as medicine. Here are my top ten cancer-fighting foods and ways you can get them in your daily diet. The more I learn, the more I see how important nutrition is to fight illness and stay strong!
Vegetables like broccoli (especially broccoli sprouts), kale, cauliflower, and cabbage contain isothiocyanates, an ingredient that stops carcinogens from activating, reverses activated carcinogens and detoxifies. Broccoli is the only one with sulforaphane, a compound that boosts the body’s protective enzymes and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals.
How to incorporate in your diet: Add kale to smoothies or green juices. Steam broccoli as a side dish with wild salmon for dinner. My favorite – saute kale and broccoli sprouts with onion and peppers and top with hemp seeds for a protein and omega boost!
Greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, romaine, arugula, watercress are high in vitamins, minerals and enzymes but low in calories. Leafy greens are rich in the cancer fighting antioxidants vitamin c and beta-carotene. Greens also contain antibacterial and antiviral properties that stop carcinogens, prevent tumors from forming and cancer from spreading. Greens also contain isothiocyanates (ITC’s).
How to incorporate in your diet: My favorite way to incorporate greens has become blending or juicing. I did Kris Carr’s 7-day juicing challenge and now juice almost daily. Or try my Antioxidant Rich Kale Berry Salad.
Oh, my loves, how can they not be healthy with all that color?! Take your pick – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries and more. Berries are packed with vitamin C, vitamin A and cancer-fighting anthocyanins, which slow down the growth of pre-malignant cells and keep new blood vessels from growing and possibly feed cancer cells. Berries also contain the bonus of powerful anti-aging properties.
How to incorporate in your diet: Try a mixed berry bowl mid-morning to start your your day or try topping your oatmeal or smoothie bowl.
Orange-Colored Fruits and Vegetables
The brightly colored pigments found in bright orange fruits and veggies such as citrus fruits, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and some berries is called carotenoid antioxidants. Cancer-fighting carotenoids are a derivative of Vitamin A and essential for immune functioning. They also help with detoxification, liver health, and fighting cancers of the skin, eyes and digestive organs (due to all the fiber).
How to incorporate in your diet: Try my Vegan Thai Chili or roasted squash for dinner or overnight oats with mashed pumpkin.
Fresh Herbs and Spices
The top herbs for fighting cancer (and inflammation) are turmeric with curcumin, garlic with allicin. Curcumin inhibits the growth of cancer cells while garlic stops cancer by blocking the formation of cancer cells.
How to incorporate in your diet is: Add fresh grated turmeric to smoothies, tea or juices (my favorite way to use). Toss fresh vegetables in olive oil, sea salt and pepper, add turmeric, garlic or both and bake or grill. I also like adding either one to homemade salad dressing. There is a really good one from Jar of Lemons.
Raw Nuts and Seeds
Walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts are great for providing healthy fatty acids. Walnuts contain phytosterols that can block the estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells, possibly slowing their growth. The health benefits are best when the nuts are sprouted but raw is also excellent.
How to Incorporate in your diet: Roast walnuts in the oven and add to a salad. I like these great healthy spicy nut recipes from Food Network and Dr. Axe. You can also try chopping almonds to use as a coating for fish.
Wild-caught salmon is an excellent source of vitamin D, selenium, omega 3 fats and of course, protein. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to several types of cancers, including colon and breast. Always choose wild caught as typically farm-raised fish will have higher levels of toxins and contaminants like PCB’s, which can cause health issues.
How to incorporate in your diet: Top grilled salmon with fresh garlic, olive oil, pineapple and a touch of honey. Make an extra filet for on your salad tomorrow for lunch!
Healthy, Omega Rich Oils
I learned this awhile back with my CNS Vasculitis that largely attacked my brain. Healthy fats are critical for the brain and nervous system and our nervous system is made up of fatty acids. In comes those nasty hydrogenated oils that destroy cell membranes increasing the ability of toxins to enter the cell. Stick to extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, flax and cod liver oil that promote better immune function, are better for your gut and help you maintain a healthy weight.
How to incorporate in your diet: Simply cook with these oils or include them in your dressings. Read labels and avoid anything with the word “hydrogenated”.
How to Incorporate in your diet: The best way to get nutritional value is from cooked tomatoes since heating tomatoes increases the amount of lycopene your body can absorb. Try tomato sauce over zucchini squash.
We’re looking to supply the body with “good bacteria’ to line the gut. Why? Bacteria helps provide a natural balance in the intestine and increases immunity. Over 80 percent of your immune system is housed in your gut. Bottom line – you need a healthy gut to fight cancer. Probiotic foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, coconut kefir, kombucha and even natural all organic dairy like raw milk and kefir can help with your gut balance.
How to incorporate in your diet: Pick best Pick a few probiotic foods you enjoy the most and get into a habit of incorporating them into your diet. Kombucha is my favorite so I buy the big bottle at Fresh Thyme where it’s only $7.49 and pour it into a smaller container to have with my mid-afternoon snack.
It has taken me a good year to find ways to get these foods into my life and find meals I really enjoy so give yourself some time to get there. It’s a celebration to add just one of them! In my own life, I’ve never felt better since adding them. Remember to start small and set goals for a healthier you!
Kris and Louie