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Eating on Purpose - Choosing Foods That Fight Cancer

Information on how certain foods fight cancer on a cellular level.

Grapes and walnuts

To stay healthy, we should eat a wide variety of foods that include as many whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. However, there are some foods that, through their chemical natures, are better at protecting the body from cancer. This article identifies nine of these super-foods, the natural components found in them, and a simplified description of how these phytochemicals work their magic.

But first, two very important dietary rules for avoiding cancer must be mentioned: low fat, high fiber.

A diet that is high in animal fats requires the body to release extra bile acids into the intestines during digestion. The natural bacteria that live in our intestines react with the excess bile acids resulting in the creation of carcinogens. Eating plenty of fiber keeps the intestines moving and eliminates these carcinogens before they can cause damage. In addition, fiber in the intestines actually binds with the bile acids not allowing them to react with the natural bacteria.

The human body is constantly producing unstable molecules called oxidants.  These oxidants are often referred to as free radicals. Free radicals steal electrons from other molecules causing damage to the cell proteins and DNA of the original molecule. This damage leaves the cell vulnerable to cancer.

The active chemicals in food, called phytochemicals, are anti-oxidants. They search out the oxidants (free radicals) and prevent them from causing damage. In some instances, phytochemicals can even repair damage already done. Here's how it works:

Broccoli

Sulforaphane, found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, boosts the body's natural cancer fighting properties. It does this by mobilizing special enzymes in the body called phase II detoxifying enzymes. These enzymes neutralize cancer-causing agents before they can affect cells.

Eat raw broccoli to receive the maximum benefit of sulforaphane. Scientists recently discovered that broccoli sprouts contain levels of sulforaphane that are much, much higher than those found in mature broccoli. You'll be seeing a lot more broccoli sprouts on my sandwiches and salads!

Carrots

Another recent discovery in the science of plant chemicals is falcarinol found in carrots. Falcarinol acts as a natural pesticide for the carrot while it is growing, keeping it protected from fungal diseases. The exact mechanism that falcarinol uses to fight cancer is still unknown.

Chili Peppers

Capsaicin is the chemical in hot peppers that give them their bite. At a cellular level, capsaicin induces a state called apoptosis in the cancer cells. Apoptosis can be defined as programmed cell death. You could say that it causes the cancer cell to commit suicide.

Garlic, tea, nuts and more on Foods That Fight Cancer - Page 2


Our editor, Jean Fisher, is a former elementary teacher. She offers "What's For Dinner?" as a free service for busy families.One delicious meal is suggested for each day of the week, plus an organized grocery shopping list that can be customized to include all your shopping needs.You will also find two stimulating table topics and one educational after-dinner activity for each day.

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