I am a big believer in plants being the most healing thing we can put in our bodies. I believe that God created an earth that would naturally house every single little thing we need to live a long and healthy life.
In a world of sugar and meat and inflammatory oils… I look to plants as what is going to heal us. Specifically, it’s the phytochemicals in plants that are going to heal us.
Heal cancer? Listen, you’re reading the opinion of a woman who healed her cancer through alternative therapies and a big portion of that was changing what was on my plate. Suddenly plants made it front and center. Phytochemicals got to working on my body the more I was intentional about it.
What are phytochemicals?
Harvard describes it as the following: “Phytochemicals are literally plant (phyto) chemicals: compounds in plants (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes) that contribute to their color, taste, and smell. They give carrots their vibrant orange hue, Brussels sprouts their bitter taste, and hot peppers their searing bite. Phytochemicals are found in all edible parts of a plant, especially the skin or peel.”
The most studied of phytochemicals are carotenoids and flavonoids- found in many plants we eat on the regular. But there are over 5,000 phytochemicals in general. We still have only scratched the surface when it comes to knowing what it can do for our health!
What goes on your plate is important when you have cancer! What goes on your plate is important after you’ve had cancer, and if you want to prevent it!
Here is what you need to know about phytochemicals and cancer:
Phytochemicals and cancer
1. They act as antioxidants which your body needs
The biggest thing to know about phytochemicals is that they act as antioxidants which help to mop up free radical damage within the body! Sounds like something one with cancer would need right? With damaged cells, people with cancer need agents to be consistently in the body helping to clean things up.
American Cancer Institute looks at it like this, “Phytochemicals and the compounds that form from them seem to act in a variety of ways to protect health. Some can increase cancer cells’ tendency to self-destruct; others may stop carcinogens before they have a chance to begin the process of cancer development. They may also block the development of new blood vessels tumors need. Some fight inflammation.”
Pretty impressive right?
2. They can help inhibit DNA damage
Cancer patients are always told to look at their health on a cellular level- which is where DNA comes into play. Phytochemicals have been shown to prevent DNA damage which thus labels phytochemicals as mechanisms that can help prevent cancer.
Some studies have gone as far to say that phytochemicals can modulate epigenetic alterations of DNA methylation. Genetic mutations cannot be reversed, but epigenetic alterations can actually be restored to their normal state.
Sometimes we think in order to make a change in our body we need to do something drastic. Something expensive. Something time-consuming. When really, sometimes it’s something as small as what we are putting in our mouths that really make the biggest difference.
Small things add up… and can have an effect on your DNA!
3. They can have inhibitory effects on cancer cells
Plants can help stop cancer cells from growing?! Oh yes, they can! This study says that “Cancer chemoprevention with natural phytochemical compounds is an emerging strategy to prevent, impede, delay, or cure cancer.” WOW! How powerful is that statement? Plants being recognized in the cancer medical world is huge and make no mistake about it- studies are interested in seeing how these plants play in our bodies!
The thing about plants is that there are many bioactive compounds in them that can go after cancer cells. You won’t read this about meat or sugar… but healthy grains? Vegetables? Fruits? You know it! These foods will help support in putting cancer cells to sleep or eradicating them entirely.
4. They can reduce or prevent cancer hallmarks
Cancer hallmarks. Let’s talk about those. Some institutions recognize six of them, some recognize up to ten. A recent study in NCBI recognized seven of them and described them as “Selective growth and proliferative advantage, altered stress response favoring overall survival, vascularization, invasion and metastasis, metabolic rewiring, an abetting microenvironment, and immune modulation”
Basically, they are marks of cancer or that cancer is about to start growing or forming.
There have been studies done in cell lines, animals, and even humans that show the power of plant phytochemicals and their effect on cancer hallmarks.
One study even said that phytochemicals can “fine-tune” cells and help them not only survive but thrive! If that doesn’t make you want to eat more plants, I don’t know what will. 😉
5. Raw or lightly steamed has the most nutrients
I think if I’m going to talk about phytochemicals, I need to let you know how to eat them. Don’t be swayed by processed foods that claim to contain plants. They might contain plants, but at that point, they are so heavily processed that nearly every nutrient is stripped clean!
Raw is the best way to eat vegetables, but this can be tough on people’s gut. If you do not have a strong gut then raw can actually do more damage. It might get you these amazing nutrients but it can harm you along the way so this is definitely something to be cognizant of.
Myself, I have great gut health so I can enjoy raw salads all the time. But another way to enjoy these plants is to lightly steam them. Yes, this does take away some of the nutrients but not too too much. Trust me, lightly steamed vegetables will still do great things for your health!
Frying vegetables on the other hand- not going to help you out too much! Might as well consider that a treat and not a real healthy meal.
Make sure to visit my recipes- I have so many plant recipes I could not even count them at this point. But they are there to help you and encourage you to eat healthy, eat the rainbow, get those phytochemicals into your diet, and take back your health!