With over 40% of people expected to develop cancer at some point during their lifetimes (1), it is crucial that we pay attention to what we’re putting in our bodies.
There is surmounting evidence that the foods we eat weigh largely on our fight against cancer. But how many cancer-fighting foods are you actually eating every day?
Underlying Cause of Cancer
Most tumour formation is initiated by inflammation in the body, which encourages cancer’s progression and growth. This can also be connected back with maintaining a slightly alkaline pH, by including more alkaline foods in your diet, and foods with high ORAC value (a measure of the total antioxidant capacity of a food).
Foods that are high in antioxidants and naturally alkaline will reduce inflammation in the body and therefore also reduce your chance of developing cancer.
In fact, many studies suggest that over 30-40% of all kinds of cancer can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle and diet alone (2). Other sources claim that this number is much higher, with over 75% of cancer related cases being lifestyle related.
Cancer Preventative Strategies
If you want to reduce your risk of cancer, or fight cancer if you’re currently affected, then adopting the following lifestyle hacks are a must.
First, you should avoid GMO foods and choose organic whenever possible. Also, eating at least 50-70% of your food in raw form will keep your body in a highly alkaline state – and I’m not talking animal products here, I’m talking plant-based foods. Increasing your consumption of plant-based foods like ripe fruit, leafy greens and herbs, vegetables, and soaked and sprouted nuts and seeds is a must-do for anyone trying to fight cancer or prevent it in any way.
Eliminate all processed foods and junk foods like soda, cookies, cakes, candies, chocolate bars, fast food, chips, etc., and consider keeping your animal product intake to a minimum. Exercising also helps strengthen the immune system, and vitamin D from the sun can reduce your risk of cancer by more than half (get out in the sun without sunscreen for at least 15-30 minutes every day).
Proper sleep is also important (8-9 hours every night), and drinking plenty of fresh, filtered or spring water (the best option), so that you’re intaking around 3-4 litres every day is required.
Stress reduction techniques like meditation and breathing exercises will also help fend off disease in the body. Over 85% of diseases are driven by stress, if you’d believe it or not! Remove all barriers and learn to love more – be vulnerable, open, and loving with those around you.
One more important point should be to reduce your exposure to toxins and radiation like x-rays, CT scans, pesticides, herbicides, household cleaners, toxic cosmetics, and the list goes on. If you can’t eat it, don’t clean with it or put it on your body.
Here is a complete list of cancer-fighting foods. I will outline the first 10 most important foods, and then after that, I will simply list the rest.
1. Soursop (Guanabana)
A simple PubMed search of Guanabana (otherwise called Graviola – this fruit has so many different names!) will show that this fruit is promising when it comes to cancer prevention (3). It has been found effective against prostate, lung, colon, breast and pancreatic cancer cell lines. It works by inhibiting multiple singling pathways that regulate metabolism, cell cycle, survival and metastatic properties of the cancerous cells (4).
This miraculous fruit isn’t only anti-cancerous either. It possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties as well. It helps with disorders of the liver, kidney, thyroid, pancreas, ovary, prostate, intestines, gall bladder, and appendix, and raises immune defence in chemotherapy patients and patients with HIV.
This delicious little fruit is often poorly over-looked in terms of its anti-cancer properties. Although research is in its early years, a handful of studies have been investigating its tumour-killing effects. The mangosteen rind possesses the highest levels of the group of antioxidants called xanthones, namely, Alpha Mangostin and Gamma Mangostin.
Studies have found that these antioxidants selectively kill cancerous development at each stage of the cancer forming process. One study found that the extracts of mangosteen helped inhibit three major steps involved in tumour metastasis – cell migration, cell invasion and clonogenicity (5). Another study found how the xanthones not only exhibit anti-cancer activity, but also have the ability to destroy resistant cancer cell lines (6).
3. Chaga Mushroom
Chaga contains the highest ORAC value of almost any food known to man (meaning that it contains a ridiculous amount of antioxidants). This gives chaga mushrooms amazing free-radical scavenging activity, helping to kill any cancerous cells in its path.
So many studies have been done that prove the cancer-fighting activity present in chaga mushrooms (7). As with most plant foods, chaga targets cancer cells, while leaving normal healthy cells alone (unlike chemotherapy, which aims at killing nearly EVERY cell in the body). To eat this mushroom, you need to get chaga mushroom powder, or a chunk of chaga, and boil it in water for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drink as needed.
4. Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are one of my favourite foods to include in any anti-cancer diet or cancer-fighting food grocery list. Kale, spinach, collard greens, romaine, arugula, watercress, you name it. They are exceptionally rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes, including vitamin C and beta-carotene which are two major anti-cancer compounds.
They are a natural source of glucosinolates, similar to cruciferous vegetables (noted below), which gives them the ability to inactivate carcinogens, reprogram cancer cells to die off and prevent tumour formation and metastasis. Glucosinolates found in leafy greens include indoles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates (8).
5. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables are some of the most powerful anti-cancer foods out there. This includes things like broccoli, cabbage, purple cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy and cauliflower. They all contain the compounds sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinols (I3Cs), which are known cancer-fighters. They help detoxify the body and prevent precancerous cells from developing into malignant tumours (9).
All berries, whether they’re blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, goji berries, camu camu berries, acai berries, maqui berries or golden berries, have anti-cancer properties. They are loaded with free-radical scavenging antioxidants that help protect our cells and lower our risk of disease like cancer.
Ellagic acid found highest in raspberries is especially helpful in inhibiting the genesis of tumours, and slows the growth rate of pre-malignant cancerous cells (10).
7. Turmeric, Ginger and Garlic
These herbs are a powerful trio. They all possess major anti-inflammatory capabilities, and are antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. Ginger helps induce apoptosis (“cell suicide”) in cancer cells without affecting surrounding, healthy cells (11). It is also a great herb for reducing nausea and inflammatory pain.
Turmeric contains the active component curcumin, which helps prevent many cancers, especially breast and uterine cancers. Curcumin prevents the formation of cancer-causing enzymes (like topoisomerase, which is essential for the replication of cancer cells), thus reducing the risk of cancer cell formation and growth (12).
The sulphur compounds in garlic can also stop cancer causing substances from forming in your body, as well as speed up DNA repair. They are especially useful in triggering the death of prostate, colon, breast, and lung cancer cells (13).
That deep red colour of pomegranate seeds should be a sure sign that this fruit means serious business when it comes to fighting cancer. It is super high in antioxidants, and many studies have shown its capabilities at inhibiting the growth of cancer cells (14). The compounds that make up pomegranate reduce blood supply to tumour cells, starving them, and therefore slowing cancer cell reproduction. They also inhibit cancer cell proliferation and induce apoptosis (cell death) in colon cancer cells (15).
Below are more super powerful cancer-fighting foods:
– Sea vegetables (kelp, nori, arame, kombu, dulse, etc.)
– Green tea
– Black cumin seed and its oil
– Citrus fruit (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits)
– Reishi Mushroom
– Hemp seeds
– Chia seeds
– Sweet potatoes