Food therapy is emerging as the latest prevention against multiple lifestyle diseases. Not always considered an important part of many of the common diseases we see today, experts now believe it’s better to pop an apple, rather than popping a pill. The Chinese have been using food as a modality of healing dating back to 2000 BC, and their traditional Chinese medicine principles are practiced worldwide.
Food is the source of nutrition and energy that supports the health of our body. Negative influences such as stress, shock, injury, emotional upsets and worries can have a direct impact on life-long health. The good news is that the body can heal itself, if given what it needs to do its job. The nutrition in certain foods can naturally increase your body’s oxygen levels, eliminate many sources of toxins, improve your digestion, and prevent, heal, or reduce the severity of various diseases.
Green tea is rich in compounds called polyphenols, including catechins, which reduce the growth of new blood vessels that feed tumors. It’s also a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier.
Pomegranate juice – This juice, which tastes similar to raspberries, has been used in Persian medicine for thousands of years. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are well confirmed; studies show it can substantially reduce the development of even the most aggressive prostate cancers, among others.
Fresh ginger, or gingerroot, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that combats certain cancer cells and helps slow tumor growth. Add grated fresh ginger to a vegetable stir-fry or fruit salad. Or, make an infusion by slicing a 1-inch piece of ginger and steeping it in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes; drink hot or cold (ginger tea). I like to peel and freeze it, then use a microplane or small grater and add to any dish.
Turmeric, found in curry powder, is the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory spice available today. It encourages cancer cell death, inhibits tumor growth, and even enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy. In store-bought curry mixes,turmeric represents only 20% of the total, so it’s better to obtain ground turmeric directly from a spice shop.
Oranges, tangerines, lemons, and grapefruit contain anti-inflammatory compounds called flavonoids that stimulate the detoxification of carcinogens by the liver. Certain flavonoids in Try sprinkling some grated zest into salad dressings or cereals, or over fresh fish.
Berries – Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries contain a large number of polyphenols, which inhibit tumor growth. The polyphenols found in berries promote cancer cell death. Frozen berries are just as potent as fresh ones. Avoid those in sugary syrups.
Cruciferous vegetables – Brussels sprouts, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower all contain potent anticancer molecules. These molecules help the body detoxify and can help prevent precancerous cells from developing into malignant tumors. Try steaming or a stir fry with a little olive oil or add during the last few minutes when cooking pasta.
Garlic, Onions, Leeks, Shallots and Chives – The sulfur compounds found in this group (the alliaceous family) promote the death of colon, breast, lung, and prostate cancer cells. The active compounds in garlic are released when you crush the clove, and they’re much more easily absorbed if they’re combined with a small amount of oil. Sauté chopped garlic and onions in a little olive oil, mix with steamed or stir-fried vegetables, and toss with black pepper and turmeric. It’s best to let the garlic sit for a few minutes to release the compounds.
Fatty fish – The risk of several cancers is significantly lower in people who eat fish at least twice a week. Several studies discovered that the omega-3s found in fatty fish (or in high-quality purified fish-oil supplements) can help slow cancer cell growth in a large number of tumors (lung, breast, colon, prostate, kidney, etc.).
Soy protein – Compounds called isoflavones prevent tumor growth and block the stimulation of cancer cells by sex hormones (such as estrogens and testosterone). There are significantly fewer breast cancer cases among Asian women who have eaten soy since adolescence; and when they do have breast cancer, their tumors are usually less aggressive with higher survival rates. Isoflavone supplements (in pill form) have been associated with an aggravation of certain breast cancers, but whole soy, eaten as food, has not. Always look for non GMO products.
How to Eat It: Replace conventional milk products with soy milk or soy yogurts for breakfast. Also, use tofu, tempeh, and miso in soups and stir-fries.
Beans – These superstars are high in protein while being packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Add to that a rich complement of complex carbohydrates and fiber, while at the same time being low in fat and sodium, beans are considered a complete food. Recently red kidney beans passed blueberries as the number one antioxidant.
Dark chocolate – Chocolates containing over 70% cocoa provide a number of antioxidants and many polyphenols. In fact, a square of dark chocolate contains twice as many as a glass of red wine, and almost as many as a cup of green tea properly steeped. These molecules slow the growth of cancer cells and limit the blood vessels that feed them. Sadly, you do have to limit consumpion to a small amount, but you can have it everyday!
Check out this week’s recipe for a spicy and invigorating ginger tea. In addition to its anti-inflammatory benefits, it’s also used as a home remedy for indigestion, nausea, and to ward off the flu, colds, and sore throats.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” –Hippocrates
Read more about foods that fight colds and flu.