Do the Foods You Eat Fight Cancer, or Cause It?
We’ve all heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.” I think that sometimes we really have no idea how true that is. Eating isn’t just about filling our bellies when we feel hungry, but about fueling our body with quality nutrients that help, not hurt us.
With our grocery stores filled to the brim with pre-packaged, convenience foods, it’s no wonder that when we’re tired and hungry, we grab the potato chips and the frozen pizza. In the hustle and bustle of today’s families, where both parents are working long hours, it’s easy to fall into the misconception that eating healthy is not worth it. The truth is, it is vitally important and much easier than you might think.
These are foods that many of us eat every day, not realizing that they could be directly contributing to the development of cancer in our bodies. What I’ve listed below are the foods that directly link to an increase in cancer rates, but keep in mind the previous articles I’ve written on the correlation between gut health, thyroid health, and cancer. Any highly inflammatory food, or foods that impact your gut and thyroid health, can indirectly contribute to cancer development.
- Even modest consumption of processed meats can increase your chance of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. That is a huge percentage, and really makes you think twice about having sandwiches for lunch daily. Processed meats refer to anything from lunchmeat and bacon, to hotdogs and sausages.
- Grilled meats, or any meats cooked at very high temperatures, actually develop carcinogenic properties during the charring process. This is in addition to the studies that already point to red meat as a potentially cancer-causing food.
- Microwave popcorn, unfortunately, gives off toxic chemicals when cooked due to the oils that line the bag and the diacetyl in the artificial butter flavoring. Regular, old-fashioned popcorn is fine, it’s only the convenience-based microwave popcorn that is sparking lung cancer debate.
- Canned foods. Yep, even the veggies and fruits. The BPA in cans is linked to several cancers, and though food producers are being encouraged to discontinue its use, these things take time and there are still far too many companies whose canned foods contain BPA. If you need preserved veggies, go with frozen. The freezing process happens so soon after harvest, the nutrients are preserved very efficiently.
- Preservatives, food additives, and artificial sweeteners. These are all chemicals that disrupt your own body’s chemical processes and contribute to cancer in one way or another. Unfortunately, preservatives are in essentially all pre-packaged, convenience foods.
Foods to Choose
Choose nutrient-rich foods that nourish your body. While providing fuel that helps your body move and grow is vital, food is about more than energy. Your 50 trillion cells that work together to be “you” need to be fed in order to grow and thrive, and proper micronutrients make that happen.
- Dark, leafy greens. You have been hearing the benefits of these since you were young, most likely. What your doctor and your mother told you is correct: spinach, chard, mustard greens, dark lettuce—those things are really good for you. Powerful antioxidants can actually block the development of cancer in its early stages.
- Peas, beans, peanuts, soybeans, all kind of legumes, are great cancer-fighters. These little powerhouse foods are packed with multiple cancer-fighting properties. While the nutrients inside help with the prevention of several different kinds of cancer, the fiber also helps keep a clean digestive tract, working against colon cancer.
- Interestingly, mushrooms are huge cancer-fighters, and one of the lesser-known. They contain properties that specifically battle cancer on all fronts. Preventing certain types of breast cancer, fighting the proliferation of cancer cells, and causing your own cells to better fight against cancer development.
- Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, cashews, and pumpkin seeds are packed so full of essential vitamins and minerals, as well as anti-oxidants, that it’s no wonder they are amazing cancer-fighters. Turning your cells into well-nourished, thriving cells, is the best defense against cancer.
Final thoughts about Food
Food can cure you or hurt you. Food can cause disease or alleviate it. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” It seems a bit backward to eat foods that we know cause cancer, and then work feverishly to develop medicines to combat that. Obviously, medicines that fight cancer are life-saving innovations and should be celebrated. However, if we can reduce the occurrences of cancer by changing how we eat, why wouldn’t we choose to do that instead? Choose wisely, nourish your body, and live well.
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