We know that what we eat affects our health exponentially, especially when coupled with exercise. Unlike cancer risk factors that are out of our control (like genetics), our diet is directly manageable. Read on for five foods that are not only nutritionally beneficial, but that can potentially assist your body in preventing/fighting cancer.
This cruciferous, green veggie packs a punch when it comes to knocking out malignant cells. Sulforaphane and glucoraphanin, a couple of key compounds found in broccoli, have been known to slow existing tumor growth. Additional, sulforaphane appears to act as a Histone Deacetylase inhibitor, which in turn could decrease cancer cellular expression. Sulforaphane has also demonstrated the capacity to affect the normalization of DNA methylation, which is crucial to regulating gene expression. Abnormal DNA methylation is present in the development of many (if not most) types of cancer.
Although research is still being done to determine precisely how it does what it does, studies have shown that garlic is especially daft at reducing cancer risk. Particularly effective at producing cancer-preventative affects are garlic’s organosulfur compounds (found also in all Allium vegetables). These compounds are thought to modulate enzyme activities (including a family of enzymes that is imperative to the detoxification of carcinogens) and mitigate mutagenesis, among many other potential preventative mechanisms. Additionally, the phytochemicals found in garlic are anti-angiogenic, which could essentially prevent tumors from receiving a healthy blood supply.
- Spinach/Kale/Collard Greens
Leafy, green vegetables that are rich in color contain valuable doses of carotenoids. Beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein (all carotenoids) all appear to prevent cancer by functioning as antioxidants. Free radicals, when left unchecked or found in high concentrations, can cause damage to major cellular components (including DNA). The damage done to DNA may play a role in cancer cell development. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, and subsequently prevent any bodily harm they might have caused.
These sweet, red berries are rich in anti-oxidants, making them excellent free-radical scavengers (like the aforementioned leafy-greens). Additionally, strawberries contain high levels of the flavonoid quercetin. Research suggests that quercetin may interfere with epigenetic alterations in chromatin that contribute to cancer growth. The flavonoid is suspected to contribute to chromatin remodeling that would essentially assist in remedying the carcinogenic changes. Quercetin also has demonstrated antitumor effects by encouraging apoptotic cell death and slowing cancerous cell growth.
This aromatic spice has long been touted for its medical benefits. Curcumin is a substance found in turmeric that has been (and is continually being) extensively studied for its cancer-fighting benefits. It’s suspected that curcumin may slow the spread of existing cancer though anti-angiogenic means as well as promoting healthy cell function (working symbiotically with the bodies of patients undergoing chemotherapy). Studies have also shown that curcumin can slow the spread of breast cancer stem cells by amplifying a specific negative feedback loop.