by Dr. Tracy Gilbert, ND
Cancer. Is there any word that evokes more fear? Most of us feel helpless in the battle against cancer. But we do not have to sit idly and wait for this dreaded disease to strike. Instead, we can make dietary and lifestyle choices everyday that will build our defenses and help protect us against cancer, as well as many other chronic illnesses. Here are four important steps to get you started.
1. Ditch the Dairy
Yes, I said it! Dairy is linked to cancer as well as many other chronic illnesses. I know we’ve all been raised (or brain washed by the dairy industry) to believe that dairy is necessary for calcium and strong bones – but research proves that this “assumption” is not only false, but that milk based foods are actually hazardous to human health. A quote by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) summarizes it perfectly:
“Milk-based products contain no fiber or complex carbohydrates but do contain saturated fat and cholesterol. They are contaminated with pus and laden with hormones. They are also linked to allergies, constipation, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems. And studies indicate that they can actually increase the risk of suffering from osteoporosis, rather than preventing it!”
They go on to say, “If you wouldn’t drink milk from your dog or cat, why drink milk from a cow?” Cow’s milk was designed for calves – not for people! I realize that this is a hard concept to accept and I encourage you to read the research for yourself. An excellent book that covers the dangers of dairy in the largest study on nutrition that has ever been conducted is “The China Study” by Dr. Colin Campbell (available at most book stores).
2. Just Say “No” to Sugar
I’m sorry to break the news to you, but sugar is a fertilizer for cancer. Cancer cells feed on sugar! In addition to this disturbing fact, sugar weakens the immune system. Just 1 tsp of sugar will suppress your immune system for a full 24 hours! With the average person consuming 150 pounds of sugar per year, is it any wonder that cancer rates are soaring. Reduce your cancer risk by reducing your sugar intake – start saying “no” to white ingredients including white sugar, white rice, and white flour. White rice and flour are rapidly converted to sugar in the body and have similar detrimental effects to our health. And let’s not forget to avoid high-fructose corn syrup which is in almost all processed foods and is even more problematic than sugar.
3. Protect Yourself with Cancer-Fighting Foods
There is no question that a whole food, plant-based diet is most protective against cancer. Within the plants, however, there are some superstars when it comes to building up your defenses. These superstars include green tea, turmeric, berries, soy, ginger, cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy), cooked tomatoes or tomato sauce, richly coloured vegetables (e.g., carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, squash, and beets), and alliums (e.g., onions and garlic). Green tea (especially high quality Japanese Gyokuru) works by preventing the formation of new blood vessels by cancer cells – without adequate blood supply, cancerous tumors cannot survive. Turmeric, the Indian spice used in yellow curry, contains curcumin which can prevent the growth and spread of cancer by causing cancer cell death. Basically, we have the power to defend our bodies against cancer by choosing protective foods at every meal. In the words of Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine thy food.” For more information on the foods that fight cancer, there is a book I highly recommend: “Anti-Cancer” by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber.
4. Move your Body
I know, you’ve heard it before – exercise is good for you! But did you know that it can significantly reduce your risk of cancer? According to the National Cancer Institute, exercise reduces risk of colon cancer by 30-40% and breast cancer by 20-80%. Research proves that physical exercise helps the body to fight cancer through several mechanisms. First, it reduces inflammatory stress hormones which contribute to the growth and spread of tumors. Second, it reduces excess fat which tends to store cancer-causing toxins. Third, it boosts immune function and stimulates Natural Killer (NK) cells in the body – NK cells are powerful weapons that destroy cancer cells. So, to protect yourself against cancer, find a physical activity that you enjoy and do it regularly (i.e., for 20-30 minutes at least 3 times per week).