Cancer is a disease caused by an abnormal and uncontrollable growth of cells that can spread to other parts of the body. Many factors such as genetics and lifestyle habits (e.g., smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise) can affect the chances of someone developing cancer. So it can be said that following a certain diet can decrease your chances of getting cancer if consuming bad foods can increase your chances.
What are antioxidants? As the name suggests, antioxidants work to get rid of oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress is the presence of excessive free radicals in the body, which has been known to cause cancer. Antioxidants work by contributing an electron to the uneven free radicals to create balance within the body. Foods high in antioxidants include:
- Cherries and berries, including blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries
- Citrus fruits: lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, etc.
- Dark, leafy greens such as spinach and kale
- Green tea
Vitamins, along with minerals, are micronutrients that are essential to the proper functioning of the body. There are thirteen different vitamins: the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and the water-soluble vitamins (C and the eight B vitamins). Each has necessary functions, but two, in particular, may help aid in cancer prevention.
Vitamin E can also be considered an antioxidant since it helps protect the body against free radicals. A lack of Vitamin E can put you at risk for more infections, essentially weakening your immune system. Vitamin E sources include:
- Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and peanuts (which are actually legumes).
- Raw red peppers
- Turnip greens
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and supports immune health, which is important when it comes to cancer. In addition to citrus fruits, Vitamin C-rich foods include:
- Chili peppers
- Brussel sprouts
Cancer and the Immune System
Our immune system is what protects us from illnesses. It also helps us to heal from illnesses. Research has shown that it is equipped with the ability to get rid of cancer cells and even prevent some cancer cells from forming. This is a very good reason to take care of your immune system! Cancer researchers are even working to develop immunotherapy treatments to help fight cancer.
Another Possibility: Alkaline Foods
On the pH scale, alkaline is the opposite of acidic. A highly acidic diet has been linked to insulin resistance, and insulin resistance can promote cancer development. However, it has not been determined whether or not an alkaline-rich diet can prevent cancer. Also, some of the foods mentioned above can fall on the acidic side, while others fall on the alkaline side. Until more research is conducted, it is best to have a balance of the healthiest foods of the two categories.
Examples of acidic foods that are beneficial include kombucha (a fermented drink that contains probiotics), eggs, peanuts, and some fruits that are moderately acidic. Probiotics are beneficial to our immune system, eggs and peanuts are good protein sources, and fruits are filled with vitamins and antioxidants essential to our health. So while foods with a high alkalinity content are extremely beneficial, we should pair them with foods that don’t have as high an alkaline content to make sure we get all the nutrients these foods have to offer.
These days it seems like we’re finding out about more and more products linked to the development of cancer — everything from the products we put on our bodies to the substances we use outside on our lawns and gardens. It is essential that we take care of our health, whether we believe that we have been exposed to harmful chemicals, or if we’re currently living a natural and green lifestyle.
Although many of these foods are linked to a decreased risk of developing cancer, it’s still important to get recommended cancer screenings. Doing this, eating a balanced diet, and living an active lifestyle are all essential for a decrease in the risk of all health issues.