Top Foods for Cancer Prevention

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Cancer-fighting foods, green leafy vegetables, plant-based foods

Last week I listened to the Food Revolution Summit. I love what John and Ocean Robbins (father and son) have created. A week filled with experts sharing knowledge on the healing powers of food, especially the top foods for cancer prevention.

Special attention was also given to staving off dementia, better sleep, and overall better health. They packed in a lot.

I should mention that John Robbins’s father created ice cream empire Baskin&Robbins. He was next in line to run the company, but walked away from it all to focus on living a healthier, plant-based lifestyle.

There were lots of great speakers, but Dr. William Li’s presentation on the top foods that can help prevent cancer was incredible. Dr. Li is the CEO and Medical Director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, a nonprofit organization “…disrupting disease through angiogenesis, the process the body uses to grow new blood vessels.” Nope, I didn’t know what it meant either, so here’s a great description of angiogenesis as it relates to tumor growth.

With over 35 new treatments for cancer, diabetes, and vision loss under their belt, the foundation is now focusing on disease prevention through diet and lifestyle.The company’s mission is to help people live a healthier life and they fully believe that food is essential to cancer prevention. According to the CDC “80 percent of cases of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes are preventable. So is 40 percent of all cancer.” Those numbers are incredible.

By focusing on prevention, Dr. Li’s group performs scientific research on different foods (fruits, vegetables, herbs, seafood, tea, coffee, and even chocolate) and food combinations that promote optimal health.

These are food and beverages that contain naturally occurring ‘bioactive’ factors that stimulate your body’s health defense systems. He shared his science-backed prevention research, and there were MANY takeaways. I’ll share the highlights from foods that up your prevention game:

  1. Green Leafy Vegetables – Containing those natural chemical “bioactives” that reduce risk of cancer. And don’t forget greens like beet leaves, chard, and escarole!
  2. Purple Potatoes – the color comes from anthocyanins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They stop blood vessels from feeding cancer cells. They also enhance your immune system, and stimulate healthy gut bacteria.
  3. Pomegranates – yes, they can be messy(!) but are little powerhouses. They are packed with polyphenols, which enhance your immune system. When juicing, include the inside rind. This is the area with the highest concentration of polyphenols.
  4. Tree nuts – packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Their fiber feeds your gut bacteria, and just two handfuls per week lowers your chance of colon cancer by 50%. Wow.
  5. Mushrooms – contain natural chemical beta glucans, polysaccharides that are immune boosting and also feed the gut bacteria. An important tip from Dr. Li is not to throw away the mushroom stem as it contains more beta glucans than the cap. (I’m already a mushroom convert but did not know about the stem’s superpower!)
  6. Beets – that deep rich color means betanin is present and that compound is an immune booster and antioxidant. The darker the better. They’re also great for your heart.
  7. Onions – and every member of the allium family (garlics, leeks, shallots, chives, scallions, ramps). Their pungent smell and powerful sulphur compounds tell you that they are healthy. Onions contain quercetin, a flavonoid containing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  8. Cabbage – contain glucosinolates found in many cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, etc.) that are disease fighting as well.

There was so much more, but these eight should inspire you to get serious about eating foods that love you back.

A major theme that ran throughout the program is the importance of feeding your gut bacteria. So many of these anti-cancer fruits and vegetables stimulate healthy gut bacteria. One example is Lactobacillus, which boosts our immune system, talks to fat cells (tells them not to grow), and is known to help inhibit tumor growth in breast and colon cancer.

It also talks to our brain, telling it to release oxytocin (the powerful “bonding” hormone that acts like a neurotransmitter in our brain). Imagine when our gut is overrun by bad bacteria. It negatively impacts our immune system by throwing it off track, and changes our mood, among so many other things.

So grateful to catch Dr. Li on the Food Revolution Summit!

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