Are There Some Foods That Prevent Cancer?
There is no doubt that when the right foods are eaten, they boost our health. Many registered dieticians, nutritionists and functional doctors spend lots of time making sure their patients are eating foods that are helping them achieve their health goals. While eating healthy is great for the immune system, are there actually foods that prevent cancer?
No matter our current health situation, there are benefits for everyone from consuming nourishing food in its most natural state. Some studies have even shown that consuming certain foods regularly helps to prevent chronic diseases, like cancer.
Foods That May Help Prevent Cancer
In terms of foods that prevent cancer, there is no miracle food that has been found to do this. However, foods that are rich in phytonutrients seem to be a common factor to researchers when looking at foods that can help prevent cancer. Many foods with phytonutrients in them act as antioxidants. It is this antioxidant function that is important because free radical damage can lead to abnormal cell changes. Antioxidants combat and improve free radical damage.
On a cellular level, cancer begins by causing cells to divide in uncontrollable ways. Laboratory and animal research has found that antioxidants can help prevent free radical damage (which is associated with cancer). According to The National Institutes of Health, free radical damage may also lead to cancer. As time goes by, the more free radical damage there is, the higher chance that it becomes irreversible. This can lead to many diseases, including cancer.
Common Antioxidants You Should Eat
However, free radicals get their power taken away when they come into contact with antioxidants, as the electrical charge is then neutralized. The free radicals are then prevented from taking any further electrons from other molecules in the body.
Antioxidants are more common than we realize in a diet that is full of fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry and eggs. Below is a list of antioxidants commonly found in food sources.
This is found in animal products such as meat, fish, poultry and dairy foods. Plant based vitamin A is called provitamin A and can be found in fruit and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots. This fat soluble antioxidant vitamin is stored in the liver.
Naturally found in fruits and vegetables, this antioxidant is especially high in citrus fruits, leafy greens, broccoli and cauliflower. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin which means it needs to be replaced daily as the body cannot store it.
This fat soluble antioxidant vitamin is found in most foods, but is especially rich in nuts and seeds.
Foods such as egg yolks, spinach, kale, broccoli, grapes and orange peppers are rich in this antioxidant. It is best absorbed when accompanied with a healthy fat in the same meal.
This antioxidant gives fresh fruit and vegetables their red color. It is commonly found in tomatoes, watermelons, pink grapefruits, red oranges and guavas.
This essential mineral is obtained through food sources such as Brazil nuts, fish, pork, chicken, turkey, ham, eggs, peas and potatoes.
Other Potential Cancer Triggers
In a 2008 study, it is found that cancer is a preventable disease that requires "major lifestyle changes". This study also discusses the causes of chronic diseases such as cancer, including the inherited gene factor. Here, researcher Craig Venter states that the genes we have inherited from our mother and father have "very little outcome on life outcome". He expands on this by stating this is because "our biology is way more complicated than that" and "deals with hundreds of thousands of independent factors".
So, the genes passed onto us do not determine chronic diseases we can potentially experience. However, genes are able to give some insight into the risk for getting a certain disease. This same study also mentions more details on how lifestyle and environment account for "90-95% of most chronic illnesses".
Therefore, cancer is caused by internal and external factors. The internal factors are those such as inherited gene mutations, immune conditions and hormones. Whereas environmental factors include smoking, food choices, coming into contact with infectious organisms, alcohol consumption and radiation.
If you think you are at risk for certain types of cancer or may have symptoms of cancer, talk to your doctor and discuss all of your options regarding prevention, and if you are diagnosed, talk about finding the best choice of treatment.
Also, it is good to remember that consuming antioxidants prevents your body from experiencing harmful illnesses. Consider adding the foods and vitamins that we talked about into your diet, to make sure you are at your most optimal health. Time to eat more fruits and vegetables.