Foods That Heal
Eating nutritious whole foods and staying active is anyone’s best guarantee to a long healthy life. Maintaining a well-balanced nutritious diet will provide the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly and be healthy. Following a nutrient-rich whole food diet will help to build a strong immune system that can aid in the healing and prevention of chronic disease.
When fighting chronic illness, foods with specific nutrients or compounds can be added to the menu that can aid the body in healing. For example, foods high in soluble fibre like oatmeal and Brussels sprouts can help to remove unhealthy cholesterol from the blood, helping to lower cholesterol levels. Turmeric can be used for providing mild pain relief and ginger root can help to alleviate inflammation. In this following section, beneficial foods are explored that can aid in the healing and maintenance of chronic disease.
Healing Foods for Cancer
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada today, but the good news is that many carcinogens have been identified and are avoidable. Carcinogens are anything that can lead to the development of cancer. These carcinogens have been identified by the many scientific studies conducted over the years through cancer research. The leading causes of cancer are smoking, alcoholism, air pollution, radiation, chemicals, hormonal drug therapies, chronic inflammation, viruses and infections, obesity, sugar, unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. Through maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle free from as many of these contributing factors as possible is anyones best defence against cancer.
Throughout history man has used food and herbs as a form of medicine to assist in healing the sick. Often these health elixirs came in the form of broths and teas made using specific ingredients. Some of these health remedies are still recognized for their benefits and are used today in the prevention and healing of illness. In the fight against cancer there are specific foods and herbs recognized for their unique healing abilities. Cruciferous vegetables, folate- rich vegetables, turmeric root, ginger, garlic, onions, cinnamon and green tea can all assist in the healing and prevention of cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables are nutrient-rich in vitamins and dietary fiber and low in calories making them a powerhouse of nutrition and health. Cruciferous vegetables also contain a substance known as glucosinolates which have been found to inhibit the development of many types of cancer. Cruciferous vegetables include arugula, cabbage, bok choy, kale, turnip, mixed salad greens, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, radish, rutabaga, turnip, watercress, horseradish and wasabi.
Folate -rich foods have been the subject of several studies around the world for their ability to reduce the risk of pancreatic and colorectal cancers. Synthetic supplements of folate like folic acid on the other hand have been found to increase the risk of these cancers and accelerated the process opposed to reducing them. For this reason it is advised to increase folate intake through whole food sources over supplements. Foods rich in folate include lentils, kidney beans, broccoli, iceberg lettuce, beets, lima beans, sunflower seeds, spinach, brussels sprouts, asparagus, green peas, cabbage, avocados, romaine lettuce, strawberries, oranges, eggs and bananas.
Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Indian cooking and one of the main components of curry powder. A study conducted by India’s Alagapaa University, published in the Wiley science journal, Microscopy Research and Technique in 2012; found curcumin, the major active ingredient in turmeric, had anti- cancer properties, especially when taken in combination with catechins, a major active ingredient in green tea. Green tea has long been used and recognized for its detoxing abilities. The Ludwig- Maximillian University in Munich, Germany in 2012 also found that curcumin had the ability to inhibit the development of both prostate and breast cancer.
Ginger is a zesty root that is commonly used as a spice in Asian cuisine, as well steeped in hot water and enjoyed as a tea. Ginger is known for easing gastrointestinal distress and for its anti-inflammatory effects. Ginger has also been studied extensively for its powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. At the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Cancer, The University of Michigan presented an exciting study that found ginger had the ability to kill ovarian cancer cells. Cancer research conducted by the Minnesota’s Hormel Institute in 2003 found that ginger can also inhibit colorectal cancer growth.
Garlic and onions are classified as Allium vegetables and have been recognized to have strong anti- cancer properties. Several population studies have recognized that Allium vegetables can inhibit cancer in all its stages. Increased garlic consumption showed strong cancer-fighting effects on specifically breast cancer and pancreatic cancer. Garlic, along with ginger root, are both natural blood thinners and should not be taken excessively with prescription blood thinners as it could thin your blood out too much.
Cinnamon has been used throughout history for its powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti- microbial, and immune boosting abilities. An interesting compound found in cinnamon called cinnamaldehyde has also been studied for its ability to inhibit cancer tumor growth, especially in colorectal cancers, causing the cancerous cells to self-destruct.
Vitamin D (best absorbed through sunlight) helps fight against skin cancer. The controversy of whether sun exposure causes cancer can be explained. Over-exposure to the sun causing severe sunburns in conjunction with excess omega-6 in a person’s system, can put a person at risk of melanoma later in life. The sun itself is not dangerous, instead it is very healing; just learn to limit your sun exposure. Health experts agree that a person should spend between 10 to 30 minutes in the sun every day; with arms and legs exposed. Be wary of sunscreens instead, as many contain harmful ingredients that have been linked to cancer.
Choose natural organic whole foods over highly processed foods with artificial ingredients, GMOs(genetically modified organism) or foods grown using pesticides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers. Scientific studies have identified these types of food as carcinogenic. Several artificial ingredients still commonly added to foods and beauty products today are known to be carcinogenic; such as caramel colouring and parabens. GMO foods have been banned by several countries around the world over concern about the genetic tampering and their health value. GMO corn has drawn the most criticism and concern, with studies linking it to intestinal cancer. Different types of pesticides have also been linked to different types of cancers and are very harmful to personal health. In India, pesticide contaminated foods have killed groups of people on more than one occasion.
Baking Soda is a naturally occurring substance that traditionally was used as a treatment for colds, the flu and other diseases. Recent studies suggest baking soda can be used in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Cancer is a fungus and thrives in an acidic environment. Baking soda on the other-hand has strong anti-fungal properties, as well alkalizes the body when consumed. Combine 1/4 of a teaspoon of baking soda with lukewarm water for an alkalizing health boost. Caution must be advised in taking baking soda too often as it can deplete the body of vital vitamins and minerals. If used excessively, it can increase acid production and cause hypertension and fluid retention.
Maintaining a PH of 7.4 has also been recognized to greatly reduce a person’s chances of getting cancer, as well will help in the fight against it. Cancer thrives in acidic environments but cannot survive in an alkaline one. A person can have a blood analysis done, or have other bodily fluids tested to determine their acidity/alkalinity. Many people today do have acidic bodies as many people today live in acidic environments and consume acidic foods and drinks. Acidic foods and drinks include meats, grains, processed foods, sugars, soda, fruit juices, coffee and alcohol. Alkaline foods include fruits, vegetables and leafy greens. Drinking plenty of water with lemon juice added will also help alkalize the body. It is recommended that the average adult drink 8, 8-ounce glasses of water daily to keep hydrated, which is essential for overall good health.
Oxygen is another powerful cancer-killer. Cancer cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment so be sure to get outside regularly for some fresh air. Keeping active is equally important as this will help your heart to pump the fresh oxygen-rich air through the blood throughout your body. Stay active, eat healthy and be well.
Written by: J. Marshall
Try our Ginger Vegetable Stir-fry recipe! Ginger root and vegetables are excellent healing food sources for fighting cancer.
Try our Broccoli Pesto Pasta recipe! Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli are excellent healing food sources for fighting cancer.
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