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Guide to Preventing Cancer  ( Home | Diet | Foods | Recipes )

The Anti-Cancer Diet Plan (Cont'd)

Following an anti-cancer diet plan involves eating foods that are rich in cancer-fighting nutrients and phytochemicals on one hand, and avoiding potentially carcinogenic dietary substances on the other. In this article, we take a look at dietary habits that may help reduce your risk of developing cancer.

Note that this is the second page of a two-page article on anti-cancer foods. If you missed the first page, click here.

#10: Choose Low-GI Foods

Vegetables and other low-GI foods should form the basis of your anti-cancer diet.

Glycemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate-rich foods according to their impact on blood sugar levels. Foods that are slowly digested encourage stable blood glucose levels and rate low on the Glycemic Index. Most non-starchy vegetables, legumes and fruit have a low GI rating. Foods that break down quickly, including most refined carbohydrate-rich foods and potatoes, cause rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels and are rated high on the glycemic index.

Carbohydrates that have a high GI rating have been linked to the development of several types of cancer, including colorectal, endometrial, thyroid, breast, pancreatic, and ovarian cancer. This link is believed to be related to the ability of high GI foods to stimulate the production of the hormones insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which can stimulate tumor proliferation, progression, and spreading within the body. Most non-starchy vegetables, legumes and fruit have a low GI rating, and refined carbohydrate-rich foods as well as potatoes have a high GI rating.

#11: Limit Alcohol Consumption

A frequent intake of alcohol has consistently been associated with an increased risk of several types of cancer, but the exact mechanisms by which alcohol causes cancer are not known. However, there are several proposed theories. The most commonly accepted theory is that alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde in the body — a chemical that also causes hangovers — and that this chemical induces DNA damage which can lead to cancer. In terms of quantity of alcohol consumed, the higher and the more frequent the intake, the higher the risk of cancer. However, even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of cancer (but possible reduce the risk of heart disease, particularly in older men and women).

Beta-glucans, abundant in mushrooms, help destroy cancer cells.

#12: Eat Plenty of Foods Rich in Beta-Glucans

Beta-glucans are naturally occurring polysaccharides, present in various foods that are high in soluble fiber. According to human studies, beta-glucans can help fight cancer — including skin, breast, gastric and lung cancer — by passing immune cells into the cancerous area and by destroying cancer cells. The anti-cancer properties of beta-glucans have also been observed in numerous animal tests. Good sources of beta-glucans include many cereal grains, baker's yeast, and mushrooms.

#13: Count on Curcumin

Curcumin is a phenolic compound that gives turmeric its intense yellow color. Curcumin has been used, in the form of turmeric, in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries due to its beneficial effects on a wide range of diseases and conditions. In recent years, also western medicine has started to pay greater attention to this extraordinary compound. Research has shown that curcumin possesses a variety of anti-cancer properties that make it highly effective against almost any type of cancer. For example, curcumin can identify potential cancer cells by their abnormal chemistry and consequently induce self-destruction of these harmful cells (process known as "apoptosis") — without damaging healthy cells. Furthermore, curcumin is a potent antioxidant and may prevent nitrosamine formation and inhibit aflatoxin production — two processes that have been associated with an increased risk of cancer.

I3C in cruciferous vegetables eliminates carcinogens.

#14: Increase Your I3C Intake

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts have long been touted for their anti-cancer properties. These anti-cancer properties are largely due to indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a compound that is found in cruciferous vegetables when the plants' cell walls are broken through chopping, crushing, or chewing. I3C has been shown to boost the detoxification of many harmful substances, including carcinogens, and to have antioxidant properties. Moreover, I3C may hinder overproduction of certain hormones associated with an increased risk of breast, prostate, and cervical cancers.

#15: Avoid Animal-Based Foods That Contain Nitrates

Nitrates are substances that naturally occur in our environment. They can be found in the air, soil, surface water and ground water. They are also naturally found in vegetables. Furthermore, nitrates are used in processed and cured meat to give meat a deep red color. Once consumed, the body can convert nitrates into nitrites, which in turn can react with certain amines found in food to form nitrosamines. There is a large body of evidence suggesting that nitrosamines can cause cancer in humans.

However, nitrosamine formation is inhibited by certain antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin E. As vegetables usually contain large amounts of antioxidant substances, nitrosamine formation is not a concern when you eat these foods. This is supported by epidemiological studies of human populations which show no link between a high consumption of nitrate-containing vegetables such as carrots (which are also rich in antioxidant vitamins) and cancer, but which show that diets high in nitrate-containing processed meats are a risk factor. It is therefore advisable to limit the consumption of processed meats, including sausages, jerkies, bacon, lunch meat, and canned soup products containing meat. If you do occasionally indulge, be sure to include vegetables rich in vitamin C and vitamin E in your meal.

Ellagic acid induces self-destruction of cancerous cells.

#16: Consume Foods That Provide Ellagic Acid

In the battle against cancer, ellagic acid might well be among your best weapons. Ellagic acid is able to eliminate cancer-causing substances by activating certain detoxifying enzymes. It can also prevent carcinogens from attaching to cellular DNA. Furthermore, ellagic acid has been shown to stimulate the immune system to fight cancerous cells more effectively as well as to induce self-destruction of cancerous cells. Additionally, ellagic acid has antioxidant properties which allow it to attack harmful free radicals. Ellagitannin (which is converted into ellagic acid by the body) is found in a number of red fruits and berries and some nuts such as pecans and walnuts. The highest levels of ellagitannin are found in raspberries.

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